Vintage coffee set

Now that I’m back in London after three weeks away (France, Stockholm Fashion Week, Yorkshire & my mother’s insane house move), I am starting to organise LLG HQ after the disastrous house move at the beginning of the month. Along with all my stuff,  including several packing cartons still unsorted from the move back from America in December, are a new wave of boxes, bags and pieces of furniture, all salvaged from the ex-family home, which was finally sold last Friday.

The mammoth sorting out, donating, and throwing away of stuff upon which I embarked yesterday, reminded me of a post I wrote back in 2009 on the importance of living for the moment, not saving the lovely things you own for some mythical concept of ‘best’. Now that I am finally in a home I intend to call my own for at least a year, and hopefully more, I intend to adopt William Morris’ edict, ‘Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful’.

And here is that post I wrote about living in the present:

India wrote in The Sunday Times last week: “How nice it is that the concept of “for best” should since have become extinct”. She was referring to dinner parties, but it’s a conversation that my sister and I have been having for a few years now.

When I moved to America I had to pack up my London flat. Eight years of living there whilst working in fashion and beauty journalism meant that every cupboard, shelf and cubby hole was crammed with lovely stuff. Not that I ever used any of it. No, I was saving it all for best.

Those lovely Wolfords? Nah, I’ll wear the scratchy cheapo ones instead in case I ladder them. That delicious Ormonde Jayne bath oil? Oh no, that’s for dates & special parties. Silk lingerie? For boyfriends only. The linen sheets I inherited from my great aunt? I can’t even think why I didn’t use them. It’s not like I was saving them for my trousseau.

Lil’sis really takes the biscuit on this front: her bathroom cupboards and shelves are packed four deep with expensive goodies: largesse handed over by my mother and me. But every time I stay with her, I see the Herbal Essences in the shower rack and the supermarket hand lotion by the basin. She got cross when I told her I was writing this piece: “Nooo, please don’t. Everyone laughs at me about those shelves.”

I pointed out that if this encouraged her to actually use the lovely products daily instead of waiting for a mythical event to make it worthwhile, it could only be A Good Thing.

Our reluctance to use the beautiful things we have stashed away stems from our growing up years when my parents spent every available cent on school fees & on mortgage payments. There wasn’t any cash for luxuries and we eeked out anything wonderful that we were given, keeping it as a bulwark against the quotidian grind. That habit has stayed with us both, although it’s no longer necessary.

When I packed up the flat I was horrified at the amount of unused loveliness gathering dust whilst I spent money on the cheap stuff, and vowed that I would start using everything I had been given. After all, I could see no prospect of getting through it in this decade.

I quickly realised how much nicer daily life can be when you are using a jasmine scented hand cream rather than Atrixo, that I felt so much better wearing a cashmere sweater or a frock to walk the dog instead of schlumpfing up to the Heath in holey leggings (they’ll only get muddy, I used to reason).

After all, what on earth were we waiting for? Why can’t today be made just as wonderful as the prospect of tomorrow?

Photo: A coffee set inherited from my great-grandparents, which was clearly used frequently. The coffee pot has a chipped spout, and the cups are a little stained inside. I love that they have been both cherished and used, and have no desire to get the pot mended. It’s a daily reminder to me to use my things.

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27 comments

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i was wondering what state of mind packing up your family home would put you in. thanks for this post 🙂

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…”yesterday is a history, tomorrow is a mistery, but today is a gift. That is why it’s called the PRESENT!”… 🙂

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I just adored this post. I have recently spent some time cleaning out drawers, boxes, jewelry cabinets, and closets to come to the same conclusion. What is the point of stashing away the expesive lotion for a ‘rainy’ day? Why am I hiding this pile of scarves when I should be using them or passing them along to someone who will? Great blog post!

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So very true!

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Totally, totally agree. It took me a while to wrap my head around the concept of luxury now, rather than luxury later when you felt you’d ‘earned’ it. And you are right, you do inherit it from your parents. I remember this gorgeous size 10/12 coat my mum got me as a teenager that I was desperate to wear but she said it was too special for everyday wear! I NEVER got to wear it in the end, all I got to do was try it on and stroke the furry collar. No one foresaw my bust would explode to be a D cup when I was 17, so the coat stopped fitting. That memory still bums me out to be honest as the coat was the prettiest thing she’d ever bought me. Now I’m a grown up, I’m trying VERY hard to enjoy the good stuff and enjoy it now, but those ingrained habits even now, can sometimes be hard to shake when you grew up with little. x x

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I think it was Lagerfeld who said something along the lines of you should buy luxury goods only if you can afford to wear them like everyday items. He may live in another world where luxury is everyday, but I totally agree!
Use your most beautiful of everything everyday, enjoy it to its full, create a story behind it so it’s full of memories. If you’re careful with it it’ll survive to be passed on and when you do pass on the treasured possession it’ll be much more interesting to the new owner.
We should spoil ourselves a little everyday, there are enough things in the world trying to do the opposite.

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A wonderful piece and I agree with you wholeheartedly. So many people do it and rarely get to enjoy life’s little everyday luxuries – myself included. Here’s to indulgence! xxx

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This is a post with almost perfect timing for me, having just discovered an almost-full tub of painfully expensive body moisturiser has grown mouldy as I had kept it for too long without using it up. I am reminded that every day should be a ‘best’ day, as we will never get it back and we have no idea what the future brings.

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Great post! When I was vistiing my grandparents back home last Christmas I opened up their ‘best’ cupboard and found it to be full of fabulous china that they never use. I asked them if I could take some of it when I move home next year as I plan to use that fabulous Wedgewood on a daily basis. My mother also spent years after her wedding collecting a full set of china only to have it on display in our dining room. I never once saw her use it – such a waste! De x

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Yes yes yes I do so agree! Love that quote and totally live by it. When its so true that you never know when your time is up, live as if you will die tomorrow, shower the people you love with love, ignore and pity the haters etc.
(and no i’m not skipping through a meadow with butterflies and friendly woodland creatures, neither am I drunk)
Wear your best clothes, while they still fit you , your high heels while you can still walk in them , and flirt and smile your way through life in your best frock and lippy.
J x

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