Thursday, 22 November 2012

20%, 80% of the time (or: how many clothes do I actually need?)

I thought that I didn't have many clothes (3/4 of a wardrobe and two small drawers), and so when one of my friends started this blog earlier this year about her wardrobe and clothes buying habits, I smugly thought to myself 'I'll count my clothes, I bet I have about fifty items.' I was SO wrong. I had 118 clothes/bags/pairs of shoes etc, 80 of which were clothing, 11 bags and 27 pairs of shoes. I may have forgotten to count dressing gown and coats. I've got rid of some stuff and added some stuff since then, but it's probably a pretty good estimate. Anyway, lest this descends into a weird counting game (which, as this this blog post points out, is a somewhat pointless obsession in some parts of the internet), I'm going to move on from the numbers...to, err, percentages.

Apparently, 80% of effects come from 20% of causes (the Pareto principle). This has been applied to many things, not least clothes- you will wear 20% of your clothes 80% of the time. You can test this by putting clothes to one end of the wardrobe once they have been worn and washed, and after a month, six months, a year, see what you have actually worn. I've never actually bothered, because it is pretty obvious that I wear about ten items of (outer) clothing. Jodhpurs, t-shirt, leggings, dresses. Pyjamas.

So, I've been thinking about the idea of a uniform. Not quite like my old school uniform (thankfully I quite like purple) but expanding on the fact that I already wear one dress to work most of the time (a hand-me-across from my friend at work- too big, but that can be sorted with a belt). It strikes me as being much more simple*, and would eliminate any remaining 'what shall I wear' staring at the wardrobe time. Plus, I just hate having excess stuff and a wardrobe that involves fighting with hangers. Bleurgh.

So- aside from what I shall loosely term 'sports clothing' (yoga, horse riding, 'running', swimming), I can't think of a situation where I would need anything other than leggings and a dress. (And underwear, of course).

I'm not planning on being quite as extreme as this, although the idea is tempting.

So, after the removal of one big ol' sack of clothes, the wardrobe looks like this:
Big ol' sack of clothes, with Tinkerbell for scale














Everything from left (other than naval uniform which snuck in) to the gap is 'sports clothing' and pyjamas, i.e. where my nice clothes go to die. The stuff from the right to the gap is everything else, which consists of:

The 'work' collection. Hand-me-across dress on left, summer dress in middle (this may prove unnecessary, as we no longer have summer) and black dress for work or smart ish black dress occasions.


'Party' dresses. Blue on left is pretty multipurpose. Don't totally love the others...

Stuff that does not entirely fit into the 'dress and leggings uniform' thing. But would fit into 'trousers and jumper uniform'.

More jumpers. The brown and cream one is invaluable as I work in a very cold house
Err...collection of *totally necessary* formal dresses. Unfortunately the black one and the blue/green one are too short for military functions as I might show my knees (gasp!) so the ballgown must stay.
And finally...clothes which will be hibernating before being rehomed. Jeggings. Yuck. But I am not totally confident that my leggings (which I didn't bother to photograph) won't all get holes in them within about a month.

I feel some sort of challenge coming on...I think I might be inspired by Cat's idea for her blog (ok, I will just steal it) of not buying anything clothes related until my birthday (April) and getting rid of anything that I don't wear between now and then. (Other than the 'just in case' ball gown and 'going to weddings' blue and green dress). Because my wardrobe still looks full to me...

I'm not promising to post an outfit every day though, as she did, as a) that might get boring to read and b) I'm pretty good at procrastinating as it is...(which is definitely not obvious from the fact I have spent an evening photographing most of my clothes...)

My mum once made a New Years Resolution not to buy any clothes- and succeeded. Have you ever made clothes-based resolutions/taken clothes-based challenges?



*Any of you who know anyone in the military will know that uniform can also be made HORRENDOUSLY complicated. OK, you have little/no choice about what you wear, but I am fairly sure a week or two of basic training must be devoted to knowing the subtle differences between Number Ones, Number Twos (which can also come in Alpha, Brava, Delta, Gamma Ray flavour), Number Threes.. numbers 1-3 Tropical..camouflage in case you are in the jungle..oh, and civvies. Which is not technically a uniform, but appears to be chinos and NO JEANS.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Infinite growth in a finite world?

I really don't understand economics. If I try and think about it for any length of time my brain starts to hurt. (Despite watching Stephanie Flanders' series on Marx, Keynes and...erm...the other one).

But what I really, really don't get is why everyone seems to expect growth to continue forever. Given that we live in a finite world with finite resources (other than the sun's energy, which whilst technically finite, is probably beyond the power of humans to use up. Probably.) it doens't make sense that everything can continue upward, if growth relies on us consumers consuming more.
Apparently, we are already using 1.5 Earths worth of resources- using resources faster than they can be  replaced. (http://www.footprintnetwork.org/en/index.php/GFN/page/world_footprint/  )How is this sustainable?!

And 'the news' tells me that people might have a to face the fact that their standard of living is not better than the standard of living of their parents. I'm pretty sure that I can cope with having the same standard of living as my parents- house, food, water, healthcare, enough spare money for some leisure activities. Why do we have to feel that we can afford more or better stuff than the previous  generation?! Or is this just the noooos telling me things that people are not really thinking?


In case this is getting too serious, here is a gratuitous cat picture:

This is the Merl. He is both serious and solemn. He probably understands economics too.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Hello- and what do you think? (Snappy title, eh?)

On a whim I'm jumping on the blogging bandwagon...so this may be the only post that ever gets written. I have no plan and no theme...so this may degenerate into photos of the menagerie doing 'cute stuff'.

Anyhow, I was watching Sky News paper review this morning, and one of the guests (whose name I  can't remember) picked this story to talk about: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2225987/Angela-Epsteins-furious-attack-Government-My-family-losing-child-benefit-just-earning-100k.html
 The guest was very unsympathetic to the view in this article- which I am too. Not so much because as a non-child owning person I resent paying for other people's children (which was the view of lady on t'telly) but because I am flabbergasted that you could perceive that you need an extra £1,700 per year when you earn £100K. I'm not sure I could manage to spend £100,000 per year! (Ok, that is a lie- I would have a horse and a great big shiny horse box).
If we accept the premise that we as a country need to spend less on benefits (which I am sure not everyone does), a cut like this seems like a reasonable way to do it- providing that make it means tested does not cost more in admin than it saves. Also- it would possible be fairer if it was done on household income, rather than there being a cut if one parent earns over a certain amount.

I may be totally alone in this- if Eamon Holmes is to be believed- as he seemed to think that 'the nation' would agree with Jackie the sports presenter who had 'some sympathy' with the author of the article. (Although said sports presenter thought that having a MacDonalds in the athletes village at the Olympics was not at all weird, so I reckon I'm not going to agree with her very often!)

Is my idea of a resonable income completely off? Or should I just stop watching Sky News...?