Throwing away clothes is an occasionally painful, sometimes cleansing, part of our lives. If you're Vanessa Feltz, your rejected cerise size 22 dresses end up on special racks in selected Oxfams. If you're Madonna, you hold a huge "yard giveaway" of last season's outdated outfits to make room in your wardrobe for your new designer collections. But some of us just can't bring ourselves to part with unworn, and unwearable, old garments.
Whether we hoard or constantly pare down our wardrobes gives an insight into our characters. A subject that academics Ali Guy, Eileen Green and Maura Banim have examined in Through the Wardrobe: Women's Relationships with Their Clothes. The authors suggest that it is a peculiarly female characteristic to keep clothes. According to them, women do this because of the memories they associate with clothes, not because they think they'll wear them again. However, ladies with an impeccable capsule wardrobe may find the woolly sentimentality of clothes-keeping an insult to their minimalist credentials. And what of men who can't bear to ditch last season's Evisu jeans (pace Nicky Haslam)?
One couple that doesn't fit the stereotype opens the closet door.
35, is a classical music journalist
If this article were divided along the same ratio as our hanging space, my contribution would be this: I am a woman but I do not hoard clothes. And there it would end. I know women who don't keep old clothes and men who do (though few to the extent that Iain does). So does a strange relationship with clothes have anything to do with gender? If so, I'm a man and Iain is my ditzy girlfriend.
I, on the other hand, could win the Olympic gold medal for wardrobe pruning. When pushed, I can remember a pair of yellow drainpipes, a turquoise denim ra-ra skirt and a phalanx of frilly pirate shirts. But why would I want daily reminders of these things? Revivals be damned! The place for vintage fashion is in the V&A, not my wardrobe.
I'm a ruthless neatness freak. But that neatness has been learnt from bitter experience (thankfully, there is no surviving photographic evidence of the fashion disasters above). And with a shelf, a clothes rail and two shoe hangers as storage space I have no room for sartorial sentimentality. But that's fine. Ever since I bought my first Vogue, capsule dressing has been my ideal; a suitcase-sized row of perfectly cut, coordinated black and white separates. Timeless. Pristine. Monochrome.
Despite being seduced by the cunning gift of a scarlet mock-croc leather coat, I have largely managed to resist Iain's colourful influence. Barring a couple of excursions into vinyl irony or kitsch wit, which, I now realise, should be restricted to head and feet only, I have stuck to my monochrome guns. …