Now, let’s get it said first, because it’s expected, my husband, my children, my friends, my cats…
Oh, that’s four, isn’t it? And let’s be honest, is there any wife and mother out there who wouldn’t quite cheerfully be without her husband and children, just for a day or so?
Actually, last time they were all away for some reason (it was the first time too), I had a wonderful self-indulgent evening all planned, with a facepack, bottle of wine (well, not the whole bottle you understand), good book, early night. I ended up wandering around the house like a lost soul and had hardly slept at all. So I guess that maybe I really wouldn’t be without them.
But these are musings on clothes and style and the numerous ways that we are all completely beautiful, whatever physicalities we have been given by Mother Nature, not musings on the delight of hearth and home. I will leave those to my good friend Bonnie, who does it so much better than I and is even saintly enough to home-school her children!
So, what are the three things I wouldn’t be without and will, furthermore wax poetical about for the next few hundred words?
My Jewellery Stand, Shoe Trees and Lint Shaver. Oh and my Make-Up Caddy. Ah, that’s four things again and I will stop there as I am reminded of Monty Python’s Spanish Inquisition sketch (and you can be reminded too if you click here)
My Lint Shaver First.We all have favourite sweaters (and cardigans) and those favourite sweaters and cardigans inevitably start to pill and go bobbly after a few wearings, especially under the arms and over the boobs. Most unattractive. You can buy little battery operated lint shavers with heads the size of a ten pence piece (or dime, if you’re reading elsewhere in the world), but c’mon, if you’ve ever tried to use one you will know it feels very much like trying to ironing your best linen table-cloth with a Barbie-doll shoe! You need one that’s up to the job, and here is mine. Electric Lint Shaver from Scotts of Stow
As you can see it’s big enough for the job. What you can’t see is that it’s mains powered. The trick with it is to pass it lightly over the garment; don’t press and just keep running it over and over the bobbled area. It doesn’t take off all the bobbling first time round, but when you think it’s not doing anything just look underneath in that clear compartment and you will see lots and lots of little bobbles of wool – it’s a bit like a Dyson vacuum cleaner with the clear collection bin. It’s rather fun really and your sweaters and tweed will thank you no end.
What’s next? Ah, My Make Up Caddy. Lakeland are a wonderful company for storage and I’ve mentioned this lovely little thing before. Only problem is, for all you Winters and Summers out there – it only comes in cream. Sorry. But this make up caddy sits on my bathroom windowsill and keeps everything neat and tidy. Mine is a lot tidier than this picture!
the third thing is my necklace lady. My own lady is a rather gorgeous gold and many-sequinned glamour-puss, but for all of you out there who might be ready to move on from a mug tree (very useful for necklace storage – don’t knock it) I found this girl on Amazon.
The glory of handing your necklaces on something like this is that you can see them all, and therefore wear them more often and they don’t get all tangled up as they do if you try to store them in a drawer (or shoebox!)
The last thing on my list – which is probably number one in importance to me, because I do love my shoes, is my pair of shoe trees. Now mine came from Harrods, many years ago and I have been trawling the internet to see where you can find a similar pair today. The answer seems that you can’t – at least not in the UK. If you are prepared to negotiate over the pond then I found a couple of American manufacturers… look up Woodlore for the best ones. If they will ship to the UK, remember that American sizes are two larger than your British size, so if you are normally a 5 you will need a 7 from the USA. Church’s in the UK still make the absolutely classic style and this is what a good shoe tree should look like.
The regular use of shoe trees will extend the life of your shoes by (I estimate) a factor of three. It will deodorise them and maintain their shape and comfort, so they don’t go sloppy on you or start to curl up at the toes. It will smooth out creases so your shoes look nicer for longer. Buy your shoe tree in exactly your shoe size. It should be of untreated cedarwood (which absorbs moisture and smells) and have both a shaped front and back with a spring thing in the middle. For optimum effectiveness it should be lightly sanded with fine sandpaper once a year (I have never done this in fifteen years and mine still work perfectly well)
Contrary to what anyone might tell you (the makers of shoe trees in particular) you only need one pair. You insert the shoe tree in your shoe the moment your foot comes out of the shoe. The leather is reshaped and deodorised while it is still warm. Once the shoe is cold, the shoe tree has done its work and can be taken out to put in the next pair. One pair of shoe trees should do flatties and heels as the spring should pivot, enabling the heel bit to go up or down. Because you have a fully shaped heel to it your sling-backs and sandals can be looked after in the same way as your court shoes.
As you can see, I am rather passionate about shoe trees.
So there we are, the four things I wouldn’t be without. Of course, while writing this I have remembered my wonderful scarf hanger from IKEA and my belt hanger, but I think I will save those for another time!