I've been going through my wardrobes, and have already taken a first batch of discarded stuff to the local charity shop in the village. More will follow.
I do this every now and then. As time passes I become aware that this or that item of clothing, or this or that pair of shoes, has hardly ever (or never) been worn, and won't be. Then it's necessary to give it away, to make room for new things that will suit me better.
I've gradually developed a feeling for what I can wear, and what I can't. It's not based on following other people's inflexible 'rules', and certainly not as simple as 'dressing for my age', nor even 'wearing what the other girls are wearing for this time of day, and this place' - although those are definitely good general maxims. I have regard to subtler things, such as my build, my complexion and hair colour, and of course my personal comfort. I know I won't look great in something if it causes me mental or physical anguish.
This time I concentrated on jackets and boots.
I had built up a goodly collection of jackets, but wasn't wearing some of them very often. What was wrong with them? The common factor was what they did for my shoulders. It might be the cut, or it might be the padding, but all of the jackets that I wasn't wearing made my shoulders look wide and mannish, particularly from behind - a look I definitely didn't want! Even though they were nevertheless fashionable, or had a good label.
So the charity shop got 'em. I threw out the black Tigi jacket from last year, a dusky pink Gerry Weber jacket from 2012, and a light brown leather jacket by Gap from 2010. It was a wrench to part with them, but they all increased the risk of being misgendered. I hadn't forgotten being 'sirred' by a male assistant in Specsavers last year, when I walked in wearing the still-new Tigi jacket. It was its death sentence.
I also discarded three pairs of black leather boots that I wasn't wearing. Two of these pairs, both dating from 2009, had heels. The heels weren't terribly high, just an inch and a half in one case, two in the other, but like all shoes and boots with heels they made me seem taller - something I wanted to avoid like the plague. It's bad enough being five foot eight. That's taller than most other women, but one can get away with it. I did not want to be jacked up by heels to five foot ten.
I do have two even taller friends who are lucky enough to be slender and willowy, and so they look like the typical tall thin girl you see around. And there are some naturally tall and hefty women too, who also cause no special comment because big-and-hefty is just another normal body type. But I'm not like either of those, and have to be careful about gaining extra height. I know high heels make you seem elegant, statuesque and sexy, but I don't necessarily want to be like that.
The third pair of boots had no heel, but the fitting was slightly too narrow and my rather broad feet therefore felt a little confined. I like roomy footwear. This snugness had been a niggle. The boots were nice to look at, but they had been a mistake waiting to be purged. Now their hour had come.
All my remaining boots and shoes are flat, except three never-worn-outside-the-home shoes in brown and black which I have been keeping for 'formal wear'. These have medium heels and go nicely with some of my posher dresses, such as the three numbers by Diane Von Furstenberg I bought in 2009, or a little creation by Jacques Vert bought in 2011. You might say they they are part of my 'cruising collection', and are therefore strictly for evening wear in very special circumstances. My guess is that they will stay unworn in my wardrobe for the next ten years at least!
The first replacements were bought almost immediately. I went down to Eastbourne. I got a short beige raincoat, with a belt that you tie, which makes me look like a Girl Detective. And a pair of soft dark tan leather boat shoes - flat, of course.