The First Day: Nature or Nurture?

On the first morning, a Monday, my mum rings me at 9.30am. I haven’t told her that I’ve decided to start this experiment.

‘You know how I have so many clothes? How many of them are slumped on their rails and I can’t remember what I have?’

This is my mum speaking.

I hmm, thinking she’s about to tell me that she’s doing the same thing as me.

‘I’ve found exactly what I need, in a magazine,’ she says.

It must be some sort of ingenious wardrobe, a bit like wall to wall bookshelves.

‘It’s a chainmail neck-tie.’

My mum won’t be buying it, it’s far too expensive, but she does love the idea. She tells me she has a theory that Florence + The Machine has ‘unleashed something’ – we can all wear what we want now.

My mum and I were taking a break from shopping (a twenty minute one) about four years ago, when I came up with the idea for this experiment. We were sitting in Garcia’s Spanish deli on Portobello Market, drinking strong, sugary espresso. The thought of being so restricted in what I could wear was too unrealistic at the time, as I had several roles where I had to dress either smartly or modestly, and would have run out of options appropriate for those jobs. At the same time, we couldn’t imagine how long it would take to get through my entire wardrobe – months? Half a year? Longer? I decided I wouldn’t ever be able to bear having to exclude some of my clothes, even for a temporary amount of time. Four years later, I have a lot more clothes, to the point of absurdity, and have realised it’s time to find out why I have quite so many and why I can’t get bring myself to get rid of them. Why so many clothes?


By Sara Nesbitt Gibbons