Wardrobe Magic in the Broken City

Christchurch earthquake victims are learning the importance of regularly upgrading their wardrobes.

Terrified residents grabbed what clothes they could from their broken homes – some were pleased with their efforts, while others were left disappointed.

Wardrobe Magic consultant Pauline Watson says people who were disappointed with their snatch and grab technique would have been happier with the results if their wardrobes were full of clothes they still wore.

“Having a wardrobe full of clothes which makes you feel confidence and comfortable in all areas of your life is what we all need. Unfortunately, not every woman’s wardrobe is like this.”

People were given just minutes to pack what belongings they could before evacuating their homes, many of which were red stickered, meaning they were too unsafe to be in.

Christchurch resident Pip, who is disabled following a road traffic accident had welcomed Pauline into her home about two years ago to get some professional wardrobe advice.

Pip said the service had made a “big difference” to her life and had planned on asking Pauline for further wardrobe assistance, however her home was destroyed in the February 22 earthquake.

“Fortunately Pip escaped unharmed, but her house was left munted. Friends were given a few minutes only in her house to pack her a few clothes. She was to live in these clothes out of her suitcase in the homes of family and friends for an unknown length of time. The clothes which were taken from her wardrobe, were ones which she states she would never wear. So “why were they there”, I asked her a few weeks later?,” Pauline said.

Debs, who has also been forced to leave her red stickered home, was given 20 minutes to grab what her family needed.

“It was very hard to make a decision about what to take, in fact it was difficult to put my thoughts in order at all. I grabbed all of my husband’s clothes out of the wardrobe and drawers, following that we had no suitcase/bags to put my clothes in, so I just grabbed a change of clothes – jeans and t-shirt, nothing else.”

She said she was very specific about what clothes she packed for her children, which she selected based on the cooler days and nights that were approaching.

Pauline says if we are out of our familiar surroundings of our home, office, family and friends we need our clothes to give us the comfort and security of who we are. “Being displaced presents with different emotions as well as being out of our comfort zones. Hence, having a wardrobe with only the clothes that you love and make you feel great can be a great asset to you.”

Brigid Kelly was also forced to grab what clothes she could before evacuating her home in Christchurch’s CBD after the February 22 earthquake.

The dance teacher was expecting a student at her home at the time of the quake, which meant she wasn’t particularly well-dressed for the situation that was about to unfold.

“A friend was due round at lunchtime for a dance lesson, and had cancelled at the last minute, so I was still in leggings and bra top when the earthquake struck. Being used to this by now, I pulled on socks, flat boots, a longish black knit button-through top that can double as a jacket and my black leather jacket, grabbed electronic necessities and heading into The Square to touch base with colleagues. When it became apparent that we all had to get out of the CBD, I returned to my flat and put the contents of my dryer into a duffel bag. I wasn’t aware at that stage that within a couple of hours I’d be leaving town.”

Brigid moved to Timaru temporarily and on arrival realised she had a good supply of clean underpants and tights, a slip and sloppy old t-shirt, but only one bra and no trousers or skirts.

“As is generally the case with me, all garments were black, so they mixed and matched well enough. They were just lacking.”

The day after she arrived in Timaru Brigid went shopping for an “emergency wardrobe”.

“First stop, a second hand shop. I found nothing at all that I liked, bar a red satin dressing gown which cost the princely sum of $4. Next, Classic Clothing, where I found a black mesh shirt dress with a long flowered slip dress to wear underneath reduced to $39. Two dresses for the price of half a dress! The price was so good I bought a blue set as well, but haven’t ever worn that one. Finally, I spotted a pair of medium-heeled black and grey Mary Janes in my size at Stompz, massively reduced to $45 as they were the last pair in the shop. This gave me quite a workable wardrobe. I’d had most makeup basics in my handbag but needed toiletries and foundation.”

She was able to visit Christchurch four days later to retrieve more clothes.

“I was surprised by how little I chose to take; another bra, more underpants, a nightie, a black skirt, a grey skirt, a black wrap dress, top, merino wrap cardigan, pair of plain pants, jersey jacket, three more pairs of shoes, a brown tweed dress, a red stretch dress, a couple of scarves, a few brooches and necklaces, and my retro winter coat. Everything else seemed unnecessary, though I did also bring a few costume items I didn’t want to leave in my house while I was away. So many things I had were really worn out. I wondered why I’d been keeping them.

I’ve subsequently bought socks, another pair of shoes and a pair of jeans. I intend to  cull my wardrobe massively when I get home.”

Since the central city, with many of the fashion boutiques munted, shopping is restricted to few suburban malls and shopping centres. Many aren’t even thinking about the new season’s clothing as it doesn’t seem a priority with having no house or job to go to.

Pauline Watson of Wardrobe Magic works with individuals and groups to discover your own personal style, and to advise on how to manage your appearance so that it is appropriate for you in every occasion – socially or in a business context. Pauline’s work ranges from one-on-one, small group consultations, presentations, seminars and practical workshops for all groups of people. Call Pauline today to find out what she can do for you, phone 03 352 4521 or 021 121 3015.

April 2011.