You Wear It Well

Gail was beautiful. This isn’t a husband just speaking fondly of his dead wife or something now up for debate, she just was and everybody knew it. I told her frequently and, if she was feeling a certain way, she’d do the self-deprecating thing or, if she was feeling good enough herself, just thank me. The basic fact remains though I’d had years of people – men and women – quite literally stopping us in the street and telling her she looked fabulous.

I joked about it in her eulogy but Gail had always had to fend off attention from both sexes throughout the time we’d been together (and it was certainly the case before we met too). This didn’t bother me – rather I actually enjoyed it – but her attraction didn’t just come from her own looks and personality. Gail had a style of her own; she could co-ordinate clothes and make them look more than they were. I can’t recount the number of times Gail was stopped and asked where she’d got a specific item of clothing and had to convince an astonished person when she simply answered ‘Primark’. Gail made good clothes look good, of course, but her trick was in making cheaper clothes look great too.

On our last holiday together in Marmaris just weeks before she went into hospital for the last time, I was approached by a woman in the hotel we were staying in. “Can I just say how much my friends and I keep commenting on how glamorous your wife is? We can see she’s extremely ill but she has so much poise and style. We’re all saying if only we could look like her…” I thanked the woman profusely – I knew it would mean a lot to Gail (although I knew how ill she was when she could barely take the compliment) – but, seeing how painfully gaunt Gail was, I could only wonder at what they would have said had they seen her just a year previously.

The woman was right though; feeling terrible and in pain, Gail would dress for dinner as if she was going out to the Ritz (I won’t bore you with how stunning she looked when we did go the Ritz!). She had difficulty wearing the clothes she wanted as they hung on her rather than fitted her as they had previously, but that didn’t stop her from mixing and matching to look her best.

Gail always looked as if she had her own personal spotlight. She had her issues – and I wouldn’t want to pretend otherwise to anyone coming at this site who didn’t know her – but none of those precluded her from the way she presented herself; always looking fantastic and dressing with style, grace and panache. She was pretty good at raunchy and slutty too 😉

Now, with her gone, the question of what to do with her wardrobes – and there’s a lot of stuff – raised its stylish head. My immediate thought post-July 2018 was I needed to move from the house we shared. A three-bedroom town house is too big for one man and four cats but also we lived where we did because we were together; alone I had no reason to be where I was and, in fact, with elderly parents and a daughter living 50-60 odd miles away, it made sense to move closer to them. But a quick look at some properties in an area I’d want to move to made me realise I’d have to downsize the wardrobe space drastically to even think about moving.

At least, that’s what I tell myself. The fact is though I never had any issues about Gail’s clothes. Following a blog online about coping with grief , I was vaguely astonished to find someone getting his in-laws round to help sort his wife’s clothes out a year after she passed away. A year? Getting help?

I started listing things on eBay within a couple of weeks of Gail’s passing. I didn’t need help; wouldn’t have appreciated help. Not only didn’t I find this odd or hard I actually found it cathartic. Gail’s gorgeous clothes that she loved and looked great in could be enjoyed by others. That was important to me; that someone saw something, wanted it and would enjoy it for themselves. It was as if her life would be continuing elsewhere.

A cynic could say the same would be true if I’d just bundled the lot up and taken them to a nearby charity shop – and there have been charitable donations made too – and my altruistic reasons actually meant I made a good deal of money from some items I hadn’t originally paid for myself (although a lot I had actually bought).

There’s not a great deal I can say in defence to that other than I really don’t care. I’m comfortable with it, I’m the one left and I’ll do what I want. In fact, I love seeing the comments on eBay from people who’ve bought something, love it and say it looks fabulous on them because I adore the fact that Gail’s clothes have a life with someone who appreciates them.

The ‘everyone handles grief differently’ mantra will crop up here regularly – you may already have seen it – and all I can say the clothes issue simply wasn’t a problem for me. The photography, listing, selling, packaging and posting gave me a purpose that helped me a lot during the first year and, with barely half the stuff sold, I think it may serve me well into old age.

Am I overstating things about Gail’s clothes though? Were they that special? Well, how many people do you know could design and then carry off this hat? Then tell me I’m going over the top. So spectacular, so ‘Gail’ was this, I placed It was on her coffin at her funeral and it sits proudly – as an ornament no less – in my lounge.

Having said all this, I still have about 70 pairs of glasses and 50 bags available…

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