I attempted, as we are urged to by many a lifestyle magazine and TV programme, to declutter my wardrobe this week but only succeeded in getting rid of one tired shirt. As I took down the hangers and looked at each item of clothing they stubbornly refused to “spark joy” as recommended by the Japanese neat freak Marie Kondo. I couldn’t get rid of them all so put everything back and shut the door.

The exercise hadn’t been completely futile, though, as it made me reflect on more ruthless clear-outs I’d carried out in the past and why I’d fallen out of love with once treasured items – some of them quite expensive – and unceremoniously dumped them.

There was the tailored leopard print jacket I bought on a business trip to Madrid and adored until I wore it with leather trousers (it was the 1990s). My new boyfriend – now husband – quipped that I looked like Rod Stewart. One glance in the mirror at my do-ya-think-I’m-sexy outfit and my short hair with blonde highlights, and I never wore it again.

Then there was the gorgeous red velvet jacket with silver faux-fur cuffs and collar that I wore for the first time to visit my parents in Edinburgh for Christmas. My dad opened the door and laughed, “Hello Santa!” It was its only outing. Every time I tried it on, I’d hear dad’s voice and put it back in the coat cupboard, finally giving it to my niece some 15 years after I bought it. She loved it.

My prized over-the-knee black leather boots with a cuff – the height of fashion at the time – bit the dust after I wore them into the city centre one winter day, and a Glasgow wag called out, “Haw, Puss in Boots! Where’s the panto?”

A black Armani trouser suit I’d saved up for (okay, bunged on my credit card) was my wardrobe hero, until I wore it to a wedding on the shores of Loch Lomond. Three other women in the wedding photo also wore dark, mannish suits and we looked like a bunch of bank managers on a bonding weekend. My brother-in-law looked at the picture with me and sadly pointed at me and his wife and said, “I hate seeing women in suits.” He had a point. It was so expensive I couldn’t bear to give it away for years, but finally let it go when I put on some weight.

I don’t know if it’s a male/female thing, but I’ve noticed that the men in my life don’t seem affected by sarcastic comments about their attire. My husband tells me he once wore a checked suit to the newspaper office where we both met, and the crime reporter said he looked like a bookie. “Since he wore a stained anorak over his suit, I didn’t pay any attention,” he said.

He also remembers an executive, vain about his looks, who notoriously kept a hairbrush in his desk drawer, wearing a green suit to the office, running the gauntlet of mostly unreconstructed male reporters who called out: “Where are the rest of the Four Tops?” Did he care? Not a jot.

When my older brother left boarding school and joined the family in Venezuela in the early 1980s, he sported a pink boiler suit with his punky, spiky, blonde hair, much to the amusement of his rather more traditional Latino friends. Did he consign it to the back of the wardrobe? He did not.

I was thinking it must be wonderful to be so oblivious to other people’s views on your appearance, when it occurred to me that I no longer care either. The proof came recently when I was going out in a new, over-sized white blouse from Cos and my 15-year-old son volunteered, “You look like an Evangelical Christian mother about to attend the baptism of her child.” I told him good-naturedly to shove it and went out, unruffled.

Black tie events used to fill me with dread – I always felt either over or under-dressed – but I found the perfect solution a few years ago, a black jersey jumpsuit with a subtle silver sparkle through it, with long sleeves, a deep V-neck and gathered flatteringly at the waist. Running out to attend an awards ceremony earlier this year I popped into my son’s room to use his full-length mirror. “You look like a classroom assistant at a school disco” was the reply when I asked his opinion, expecting a compliment. Did I care? Not a jot.

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