Saturday, 18 April 2015

How to live a clutter free life. Is Marie Kondo the answer?

As with so much else in life, listen to your heart, your gut – whatever you want to call it. It rarely lies.

Marie Kondo is the author of a book called ‘The Life Changing Magic of Tidying up’

Her approach to de-cluttering is based on focusing on what you love and what you want to keep, rather than necessarily what you want to get rid of. Or to put it simply, keeping only those things which ‘spark joy’.

How to find what sparks joy?  You will know, but to follow the Marie Kondo approach, you have to take out everything and pile it up, then take hold of it and see how it makes you feel.

After a few nondescript items sparking not much of anything quite frankly, I suddenly spotted and literally ‘leapt on’ my green bargain Toast cotton coat – a purchase made all the sweeter because it was from Oxfam so was (a) a bargain and (b) supporting a good cause. I will at this point own that I am slightly mad – but reader, I seized this coat, clasped it and jumped up and down and did a little happy dance.  Luckily I was in the privacy of my own home. However, in terms of clothing - this is what joy feels like.

Similar items followed – a beautiful and classic tan mulberry tote bag I’d lusted after for ages and then found at 70% off in an outlet store. More loveable and wearable basics followed – a black Whistles tube skirt (works with anything in any season and just so easy & versatile); an LK Bennett classic tan raincoat;  a ouple of Longchamp le pliage bags;  scarves in colours I just loved.

Things that I looked at which made me happy. Things that reflected how I feel and who I am right now.  Marie says that if you keep something that does not spark joy then you are either holding onto the past or have a fear of the future. How true this was – for me at least. 

Those things that looked so good 5 years ago….whoaa… stop right there – 5 years ago (not now).
Those things that cost a lot and I’m afraid to get rid of because I might want them again (even though I don’t love them) and worry about the waste of money…?   Yup - they have fear of the future written all over them.

Now I am quite a frugal person and did temper some of the decisions with a little practicality. For example, I can’t claim really to love any of my current umbrellas but clearly need at least one. However, what the exercise has done is to highlight that there is a gap in my wardrobe for an umbrella I do love and - when I see one that fits the bill I will get it. 

To free yourself of those things which no longer spark joy, Marie advises saying 'thank you for your service' before then placing them into the bin bag or donate bag. This may sound crazy but for me (disclaimer I AM crazy) it really worked and made the parting / closure better / easier. There was a sense that 'yes you have served me well and I loved you when I got you but it's time to say goodbye...' If like me you struggle with the emotional part of letting things go then I really recommend trying this approach. 

Kondo-ing (a verb Marie’s devotees have coined) also makes you think about what you have in terms of how much you have and how much (or little) you truly need.

I think that even if I reduced my possessions by 50% I would have all I needed and more – both for now and some way into the future. 

The feeling of letting things go brings an amazing lightness and freedom.

Marie Kondo’s approach has really struck a chord with me, and I think I was close to reaching something akin to it after a long puzzling and largely fruitless de-cluttering journey of my own.

But without Marie Kondo, and her legions of fans, I wouldn’t have had the courage to go for it.

In true Marie Kondo style I have not acquired the book (another needless possession) but have gleaned the essence of the approach from googling and from YouTube videos.

Happy Kondo-ing. Try it and let me know how you get on!

Friday, 17 April 2015

Whistles sale shopping

Hi everyone, I've been AWOL a long time for which I apologise.

I found some lovely things the other day in Whistles, all of which were in the sale.

Here they are:

I have the black also and it's a real wardrobe staple, so the grey was a no-brainer :-)

This was a bit random but just one of those odd ball impulse purchases that I tried on and looked good so I went for it.

Just because it's pretty!

I have been busy clearing out my stuff following a radical new no nonsense approach from a lady called Marie Kondo - which (so far) has worked even for me - a hoarder extrordinaire.  

Post on that to follow .......

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Catch up

Oh dear, I've been a bad blogger. So much to do, so little time to document it.

Let's cut to the chase and let you know what I've bought.

  • White Company navy jersey dress (in sale)
  • Toast breton jersey jacket (in sale)
  • Toast orange pumps (not in sale alas but will wear them loads)
  • Gap checked shirts (in sale) - 1 x pink, 1 x blue
  • Ralph Lauren short sleeved cable sweater - white (TK Maxx)
  • LK Bennett Leela checked blanket coat. It may seem mad to buy a coat in the spring but I LOVED this and missed out in the sale a couple of years ago and lo and behold it popped up in an outlet store for - wait for it - £75 :-)

What I have also my eye on:

New Look breton jacket £22.99 - yes I KNOW... but it's a different stripe pattern. And a bargain.



A few recent pics...

Tried this on in TK Maxx - regret not buying it (story of my life!)- Cynthia Rowley white linen jacket

Ralph Lauren sweater from TK Maxx - bought instead of jacket above as figured would wear more...
Navy White Company dress - Tesco white jersey biker jacket
Navy Longchamps bag
Orange Toast pumps

Thursday, 27 March 2014

So in love with TOAST at the moment

And not just the edible kind :-)

They do such lovely timeless basics. I'd been away for a while, pursuing Zara et al. But when I walked into Toast in Bath yesterday it felt like coming home. Maybe the style is just 'more me'. Thinking about it, I do, unhindered, tend to look a bit losse and baggy - which is (or can be) the Toast look.

But I defy anyone not to like these beauties.

Green 'boyfriend' sweater - so so soft. Long, forgiving, cosy. But not sack like. What's not to love? Er, well the price. I am waiting for the sale.

Breton tunic dress. This is lovely. And not a bad price really, especially considering how well Toast stuff lasts.  Nice length - just above knee on me (5ft5).

Merino Waterfall coat. I didn't try this on, but it looked sublime on the mannequin. Another 'snap it up in the sale' item for sure.

Denim coat.  Just love it.

Boxy breton top. Surprisingly the boxiness looked good, and not too boxy, jut not clingy, which is sometimes an issue with stripy tops. Being of a larger bosom, I sometimes struggle with 'wavy' lines not straight stripes.  Not with this one.  Love the elbow patches with contrast direction stripes too!

Last but not least I love this tunic, which has a sweatshirt type consistency. Especially love the neckline. It's on my sale wish list.


I'm afraid I forgot to take changing room photos in Toast, but I did take some in River Island.

I saw this coat there. I liked it apart from the fact that the checks at the seams didn't match up, which looked very odd indeed. A shame as it was a nice coat, a very useful weight for the (hopefully soon to arrive) Spring - and only £40.

Nice coat.....(from the front)

Shame about the non-matching side seams - pet hate.
(You don't get that in Toast....)

By the way, I would urge people to get themselves to Gap. I also got a bit of a haul in there. They have up to 50% off.   I bought:

These dresses - one chambray, one navy - down to £29


This sweater - love the waffle knit  £17.48

The White Company also have a sale on (up to 50%) and I nearly bought this knitted peacoat, as they call it, now sold out online but a few instore, but decided it would not wash well (never have much success with knitted jackets)... I reserve the right to change my mind though!


Thursday, 20 March 2014

The bag of doom

It occurred to me yesterday that the most boring ‘pieces’ (fashion speak alert!) I own are the most useful and the stuff I turn to most often. Like this:


Yes: they will usually be black, unexciting and mundane. But sadly (in terms of my own life and opportunity) that makes them the most wearable.
I suppose it loosely ties in with the whole minimal wardrobe / capsule thing.  I have reached this state of affairs following several grapples with my wardrobe last year which resulted in a pretty neat wardrobe - if I do say so myself – but also in a huge, indeterminate and unwieldy ‘bag of doom’. Like a restless sea, the bag of doom is a constantly shifting creature. The bag of doom contains stuff which, at any moment in time, is out of favour because:

(a) it doesn’t suit my current mood or preferences;
(b) it is say, green, and my capsule is taupe (OCD overload); 
(c) it is more 'individual' / detailed etc - which means more effort is required to contrive an interesting outfit.
And time, sadly, is what I lack.
I dare not ditch the 'bag of doom' entirely, as come the following month (sometimes even the following week), something in it will call to me, or an inner voice of my own will cry out for something red, something purple, and the contents will suddenly go from ‘banished’ to ‘most necessary’.

This does result in a rather large and unsightly storage problem - but, putting that aside, it’s the best compromise I have been able to come up with in my 40-odd years.  Thankfully that’s just what Ikea blue bags, and spare rooms (and wasted hours scurrying between the two) were made for, no?

Putting aside the boring but necessary (and the fact that I actually need a replacement black pair!), let’s look at the unnecessary but attractive. 
I want these:

And these:   
And these:

Or possibly all 3.  (Disclaimer: I don't work for Russell & Bromley, I just have an unhealthy addiction to their wares.)
As well as pondering the likely cost per wear of red, blush and pale blue respectively (likely candidates for the bag of doom if ever I saw any), I am currently evaluating what else I could spend £495 on, should I just happen to have that at my disposal. 
To be continued...
* * * * * * *

Friday, 14 March 2014

Should've bought that crumpled rag

Namely - this (spied in TK Maxx, by Sisley).....
Doesn't look too attractive on the hanger, does it?

It looked better on, I think:

In other news, I bought this (M&S Autograph), but sort of wish I hadn't.  More like a jumper than a dress. Rides ever upwards. :-/  Hence has limited wearage, other than as a tunic, which is pretty inconvenient seeing as the weather is warming up. 

C'est la vie chez ASH.

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Zip code, I think I love you

I went out today to return the awful (with apologies to anyone who actually liked them) 'Guess' sneakers. 

Job done, I wandered over to Russell and Bromley to see if they had recovered from their mysterious fire. Things were even more surreal today. Immaculately coiffed young men kept emerging from the basement wearing blue surgical style dust masks with their hands black from soot. I didn't ask.

Now I don't know about your experiences there, but the staff still doggedly persist in bringing out 'matching' bags every time you try on shoes. It's quite quaint and I normally humour them (while secretly being a bit irritated) by making appropriate noises. This time however, I actually had a proper look (in a fairly desultory way to pass the time) but wow I was glad I did: what a bag!

I give you my new crush: ZIP CODE.  Possibly the cutest and best and most ingenious cross body bag I've seen for many a year.

Reader, I bought it. I came away shoe-less sadly, as my size was out of stock.But I am so happy with this bag.


It is cleverly designed inside (a bit 'a-la-Hindmarch') with self contained card slots and pockets. These are in the centre of the bag between the 2 outer zipped compartments. You wouldn't need a wallet, just a coin purse.  There's another useful open pocket at the back of the bag.  The two halves of the bag snap together even when the top flap is left undone (I loved this bit - am easily impressed!) - as magnets are sewn into each side.

The size is perfect, the strap length is perfect. The leather (lovely textured grainy effect) is perfect. The colour is perfect. I could go on. I simply just fell in love with this bag. It has enough to contain all you need for a night out, or a shopping trip. It's about 20cm wide and 17cm high, so it's not a general everyday bag, it's not large enough, but it's well deigned for what it needs to do. 

I bought the navy, althogh it's available in several other colours and finishes (even glitter to match the sneakers I blogged about the other day! Bit OTT that would be maybe...)

The only snag is that it's a bit pricey at £145 but I was in need of a pick me up and today, this bag was the answer.  I will get so much use and enjoyment from it. :-)

 I bought this bag with my own money and have not been paid to review it. I genuinely love it and wanted to share.


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