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Our bedroom lost its socks appeal

Wardrobe wars break out at home when couples tackle throwing out clothes.


We all look great at first. Couples turn up for those early dates clean-shaven and made-up and wearing the latest designer gear. There's not a laddered pair of tights in sight, or an awful Christmas jumper to give our intended a nasty fright. In those heady days, the last thing you'd think would ever come between you would be clothes. Right?

Wrong. Fast forward 10 or 15 years and you'll see a familiar sight: a woman – probably me – standing outside a changing room while a hunted-looking man – probably my husband Stewart – lifts aside the curtain to hiss: "Does this look all right?"

He'll have no interest in whether it does or not. Zilch. So long as the thing fits, then it's grand. He might wear it once we get it home. But more than likely, it'll go into the back of the wardrobe and he'll put on his favourite stripey shirt that he's had for eight years now, and which still looks 'great'.



Another familiar sight: a man, probably my husband, standing outside a changing room, glassy eyed and pleading: "Honestly, it's lovely on you. Really, there's no need to try on that other dress again. Look, the kids are starving out here."

Once the purchase has finally been made, the item will be brought home, and tried on again in the privacy of my own bedroom.

After I've finishing giving out about sneaky changing room mirrors and lying assistants, then guess what?

Yes. I will change my mind completely and take it back to exchange it for something else. I suppose I should take comfort from the fact that we're like most other long-term couples. According to statistics, the majority of husbands have clothes bought for them by their wives, and the majority of wives, well, no statistics are going to nail us down, thank you very much.

You can try, but you'd better include the receipt so we can wreck your head by promptly changing them.

Many an ugly spat has broken out in our bedroom and it's never over whether we should act out bits of Fifty Shades of Grey.

It almost always involves threadbare socks which I throw into the bin, only for them to mysteriously reappear in Stewart's sock drawer, because they have "plenty of mileage in them yet".

Another regular flashpoint is the recycling. I love recycling, but usually not my own stuff.

Well, you never know when you might have an urgent need for a pair of leopard-skin leggings, even if it's just for a fancy dress party, right? .

On the other hand, Stewart has a wide and varied selection of jumpers, many dating back to prehistoric times. I used to just dump them into a charity recycling bag with a note of apology. But then I recycled a particular favourite of his.

It was a furry, muddy-coloured thing that could easily have been mistaken for a wild animal. When he discovered that it was now someone else's problem, he went a little wild himself. It had memories, apparently. Fond memories. I felt very bad. But as I'd just made room for more of my own stuff, it passed quickly enough.

But who's having the last laugh? Him, apparently. It generally takes him less than 10 minutes to get dressed for a night out.

Whatever the occasion – a pint in the local or an upmarket dinner in town – a striped shirt and pair of jeans will take you far.

And there's plenty of time to enjoy a nice cold beer as he watches me drag out every stitch I've ever owned and try it all on.



Picture the scene. The mound on the bed gets higher and higher as the language gets more colourful. Then, the predicable cry: "I have nothing to bleeping wear!"

He maintains, smugly, that you'll never find a man in such an unseemly predicament.

There's always a stripey shirt that can be dug out and dusted off and which still looks 'great' after all these years. Then, the final insult. "But you look good in anything, love."

All of this carry-on is starting to take its toll on the wardrobe. The actual wardrobe, that is, a built-in job that looked massive when we first had it installed.

There was acres of space, we'd thought at the time. We'd never fill it all.

But now there are accusations of 'hoarding' and 'encroachment'. Hangers have been robbed, the good ones. They turn up two days later in his side of the wardrobe.

Stuff that should have been thrown in the bin years ago takes up valuable space. There's a smell of mothballs in certain, darker sections of the wardrobe.

And as for that pair of appalling runners lurking at the bottom ... the owner still won't come forward.

So what's the answer to all this sartorial stress? Two wardrobes? Or maybe we just accept that we have (wildly) different approaches to fashion, and decide that the wardrobe really is big enough for both of us.

And never, ever go on shopping trips with the other. Or else, of course, we could just break up, and take a scissors to each other's clothes. It'd nearly be worth it just to get at those stripey shirts.

Can't Take My Eyes Off You, by Clare Dowling, is published by Headline, price €13.99