You may have come across Jenny Joseph’s poem ‘Warning’, and if not, you probably know the first line: “When I am an old woman I shall wear purple…”
Well I don’t know whether at 60 I am now an old woman. I certainly don’t feel it, but what does it feel like? will I know? Or am I still at the stage where I’m just practicing a little?
Whichever, I feel satisfied that I am indeed now licensed to wear purple, and indeed I do. Rather a lot, it turns out.
This month I had a good old sort out of my clothes, long overdue as at 60 I have accumulated a lifetime’s collection of assorted garments. Some of which I love, some of which I loathe (why on earth have I hung onto them so long?), some of which I feel I ought to love but have to accept they don’t love me back.
So, a grand clear out, two large bags of clothes liberated to new owners via a couple of local charity shops (whence some of them came in the first place). Now I can see the wood for the trees, and am having great fun putting together new combinations consisting only of things I really enjoy wearing.
In the mix is a lot (really, a LOT) of purple. Including a beautiful soft new cardigan given to me as a birthday present by my sister, my nephews and their partners. It goes beautifully with a range of different outfits I can put together (blacks, greys, purples, oranges), and feels gorgeous to wear. Plus I enjoy some colour clashes as well, so scope there to play around some more.
Out of the mix are all sorts of things that no longer fit me, or never really suited me, or are no longer fit for purpose.
I’m enjoying having a less cluttered wardrobe, letting go of ‘stuff” I don’t need or use, and being able to experiment with making more of less.
Which ties in rather well with Traid’s Secondhand First Week, which apparently is this week – encouraging people to buy and use second hand rather than new as much as possible as a way of reducing the amount of new resources we use (you know – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle). I first heard of Secondhand First Week by chance yesterday via Kathryn’s fascinating blog (after I’d finished my Big Sort).
Quite a few of my favourite clothes are hand-ons or from charity shops. Others are things I bought new and have had for years and mended and loved a lot. Most were bought new, but maybe I should think about redressing the balance in future.
I may try out some of the other ideas set out in the poem for good measure (yes, I already do some of them and I’m not telling which. But I will just say I’m not in favour of spitting. Anywhere).
The notion of making up for the sobriety of my youth certainly appeals. I think I shall start with that one.
Warning, by Jenny Joseph
When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we’ve no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I’m tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick flowers in other people’s gardens
And learn to spit.
You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.
But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.
But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.