What will I do when I no longer need the corporate business clothes?
So you have left the corporate business world, and are perhaps working from home in a micro business or perhaps fully retired. Suddenly you find that you might wear the same top two days in a row, or a couple of times during the week, you walk around the house barefoot, or if it’s cold, maybe in your slippers!
Rummaging in my wardrobes – yes my clothes are spread out over a couple of wardrobes! I found it difficult to find something to wear.
Yes I know astounding that I could find nothing much to wear – not so much astounding that I took up some much space with my clothes. I am sure many females would identify with the following; fat clothes, slim clothes and the clothes that currently fit. So, the thinking goes, well I will keep these as I am going to lose weight, oh I will keep these as they are so comfortable when I have put on a little weight (mind you this category is not very large, as really, I am never going to put on weight again).
Then there are the clothes that actually fit – and they are sub divided into; summer, winter and in between weather type clothing – and I store them accordingly in their own drawers, shelves most in Bedroom 2. At the start of each season – well mostly warm or cold here in Queensland, I will move clothes from the 2nd Bedroom, into my bedroom. I have read about placing the clothes hangers one way with the clothes that you wear, and this helps to identify the extra clothes, that you love, but somehow never get around to wearing. I have about 6 different types of light black tops to wear over a sleeveless dress or top – you know to cover the wobbly upper arm area!.
There I am, now working from home and struggling to not only find something to wear, but when I go out and purchase a top, struggle to squeeze it into the wardrobe.
So reality began to hit me. All those lovely varied clothes, suitable for wearing in a corporate boardroom, no longer had a use for me, as I padded around the house without going out further than the letterbox or the shop down the road. Sometimes I would be housebound – no reason to go out – other than for a walk – and somehow a bling top and stiletto shoes just weren’t suitable!
Culling the corporate wardrobe. WOW – this is a really difficult one. I think it might be like when you go to clear out an elderly mum’s wardrobe after she has died (thankfully my mum is still here, but I am thinking it must be similar). It is so hard. In fact, it took me four attempts to make a huge impact on my clothes – over a timeframe of 12 months!!!
The first attempt was more the corporate/business clothes that I didn’t really like or no longer fitted me. There was one top I remember had a matching long skirt. Very sophisticated – I felt so in charge, powerful and attractive when I wore this. However I only had the top, the long skirt was no longer in fashion to wear during the day – but I hesitated, will I keep it or give it away? Did you get that! Keep it or GIVE it away!
Oh………..yes, these were the two alternatives. Keep or give it away to an op shop. I just don’t have time, to take photos and sit and list the clothing on Ebay or some social media for sale site. Besides I would check and monitor some of these sites for a time and I could see that 2nd hand clothing, there were very few people actually purchasing or typing eagerly nil (that is next in line).
I went to a local up market 2nd hand shop but the proprietor told me that most of her clients were similar to me. They no longer wanted the corporate clothes – they were wanting attractive casual clothes – that could take them from lunch with the girls, off to the movies, holidays on a cruise boat or even just a walk along the beach.
I could suggest to you to get up now and go and have a peep in your WARDROBES – but then I know what happens, along the way you see things that you need to do around the house, oh I will pick that up and put that way, and oh I must pay that bill, and an hour or more…. Later – you might return to the computer thinking now where was I up to, oh I haven’t time to read this blog post and anyway, I’m not ready to cull my wardrobe of my lovely corporate business clothes….you never know….I might go back to work full time!
Yes I thought that, as I missed my busy corporate life – oh I would love to go back and work part time in project management, business consultant again……but it ain’t going to happen!
So the culling proceeded. Not to many clothes the first time around. Besides, with my micro businesses as a business consultant and work as a celebrant, I still did need some good clothes as I was still attending many business networking functions. Clothes for a celebrant are a bit of a specialized area, and I mostly wear some perfect celebrant jackets that I purchased and a pair of black pants with floating chiffon – wonderful for covering up the curves when I was between fat and slim. You know when I am what I always am…a bit over weight – wearing clothes size 12 – but with elastic waists to hoodwink me to believe that I am actually a size 12.
The second culling attempt took place around a year and a half, after I had left my government position! This cull was the real first cull of some lovely clothes and when I went to the 2nd hand shop only to be turned away. I took a few bags down to St Vinnies –dumped them into the clothes bin and quickly drove away – and bought a mocca cappuccino and chocolate brownie – comfort food.
But I still had more clothes including some absolutely beautiful wool jackets and coats. In immaculate condition – even though most were nearly 20 years old from when I lived in Victoria (Australia) and some I bought to wear for the occasional very cold snap here in Queensland. Not that I wore them often as I observed all the younger women would rock up in their beautiful evening attire with perhaps a light shawl, but not a wool coat/jacket – preferring to look glamorous and pretend not to be cold.
So over two days in the one week – I was ruthless in my culling. Oh my goodness, ruthless but oh…so many outfits bought back memories. There was one lovely pale gold one, I wore and wore and it was still in excellent condition. It was when I was slim and felt young, very attractive and knew that I attracted the odd male stare. Hmmm that reminds me, gosh it is decades since I was regularly the recipient of a wolf whistle – oh dear and a bit of a feminist at that time, I would be indignant and pretend not to hear or acknowledge the whistler, but now….oh a wolf whistle – how cool would that be! Ha ha!
I stuffed bag after bag, filled my little car to the brim and set off. Both times I choose local organisations that raised money for women with breast cancer. I would often visit these shops in nannie mode, seeking clothes or toys for my grand daughter. However after donating so much of my clothing, I determined not to go there for fear of buying back some of my most favourite outfits – and I just couldn’t bear to see them on sale.
So there you have it. Yet one issues to confront when you transition to semi or full retirement that you honestly just don’t think about. To me although I was very busy in my new life as an unretired retiree – I found the culling very hard. I have learnt that in Brisbane and maybe other capital cities you can donate clothing to an organisation who then passes it to women seeking employment and needing interview and working clothes. I did think of starting one here on the Sunshine Coast, but I am squished with time and frankly, I know then I would never have moved the clothes on and more than likely be squashing donations from other retiring businesswomen into hmmm well the gararge is the only space left with a little bit of space for storage.
In fact the indoor garage ie tiled and leads directly off the kitchen, is a daily reminder that I still have a huge stash of fashion beads and everything you need to make fashion jewellery – all still in their boxes, or colour sorted and stored. It is about 8 years since I was making and selling my beautifully wire created designs, but somehow, I just haven’t gotten around to part with all of this yet. My thinking is well, maybe I might offer jewellery making classes and I still do make the odd matching earrings, or fix a broken piece for a friend.
The transition to semi or full retirement – letting go – letting go of your clothes, of your business card, redefining yourself, who you are, what you do, your new life. So many issues beyond just financial issues. Maybe easy for some, but for me very challenging, and yes I even sought counselling to help me through the transition. And now, using my decades of mentoring and coaching, I am offering assistance for women facing similar transition issues.
Until the next blog post…..I promised my elderly mum I would take her out for lunch today. Oh and guess what – at 85 she will from time to time cull (to make it easier for me when she flutter off with the butterflies, she says) and offers me, some of her clothing (mum is sized 18 – fair dinkum – she must need glasses – can’t she see I am a svelte size 12)!!!