Forgive me for I may be about to sin in regard to political correctness, but it seems many women require significantly more wardrobe space than your average bloke.

Much of this extra capacity is needed for the various size options that come and go like the tides. There are the big jackets, jumpers and jeans – then those rather neat tops, trousers and the slinky dresses that must be retained for aspirational targets such as summer holidays or a big wedding.

And there’s the third wardrobe: a mixture of utility and practical stuff that is middle-sized comfort stuff – neither small nor large or desperately flattering or worrying either.

For all my adult life (until very recently) I have needed only one wardrobe.

Eighteen months ago that began to change. I initially thought it was quite nice to see some weight loss – I thought it was because I walking more and drinking less alcohol.

But when the pounds kept falling off, I suspected something wasn’t right. Cancer was diagnosed. I lost nearly three stones in as many months and I wasn’t big to start with.

My clothes fitted like those on a scarecrow.

New holes were made in my trouser belt. I was like a child wearing his older brother’s hand-me-downs that I’d eventually grow into.

Laura started to buy me some new T-shirts, in bright colours – and significantly smaller sizes – to lift both my spirits and the mood music of my attire. I got reduced waist trousers and even smaller pants that didn’t hang like the sails of a giant yacht on a dead calm day.

Suddenly I had a “wee wardrobe” and a “medium” wardrobe.

I was going to give the medium stuff to a charity shop but wanted to remain positive. Yes, it was a terminal diagnosis but treatments could still work in the interim and I might I regain weight again – maybe just one more time?

Then a few months ago I developed brain tumours and was prescribed heavy doses of steroids – this puffed me up me up and gave me the appetite of a horse. Not only has the skinny wardrobe gone into mothballs, my medium-sized stuff is now unable to fasten.

Baggy jogging bottoms and a pair of elasticated waist utility trousers come to hand most days and my T-shirts are suddenly lumpy.

Laura might surprise me with a few new items in the days ahead – and so the third wardrobe of “big” stuff will come into being complete with extra-large T-shirts and pants that don’t dig in.

I have heard many women say: “I’m determined to get back to the small wardrobe one day – or die trying.” In my case, to use the very small stuff again will mean something very much less aspirational.

Ally McLaws is a freelance specialist in writing, business marketing and reputation management. Find out more and read previous columns at