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The Great British Wardrobe Dilemma

Apr 10, 2023 | The Grand Adventure | 12 comments

It’s mid-April 2023 and we’re well into Spring. The weather has yet to catch up, but we live in hope. In the meantime, I’ve fallen victim to a particularly British ailment, which I’ve dubbed ‘Wardrobaphobia’. To suffers like myself, it can be a debilitating condition, and I’m thinking of starting a support group. 

My Far North Queensland friends will be relieved to hear it’s unheard of in the tropics. In fact, I’d go so far as to say it’s unlikely to be experienced anywhere in the southern hemisphere.

Let me explain.

There are four seasons in the UK. Their starting dates (and even times of day) are based around equinoxes and solstices and they’re set in stone.

But no-one tells the weather.

So here we are in mid-Spring, but it feels more like Autumn with undertones of early winter, although the sun is forecast to come out this afternoon.

What to wear? T-shirts, layered with a long-sleeved shirt, topped with a light jumper. Jeans, possibly socks? Perhaps it’s warm enough for linen pants. But then I’ll definitely need socks. Or maybe woollen tights?

Don’t misunderstand me. My dilemma is not about what to wear, but what I’ve got available to wear. You see, none of this would be a problem if I had a wardrobe the size of a house that holds enough clothes for every (daily) seasonal eventuality.

I don’t.

I have a house the size of a postage stamp and just enough wardrobe space for one season’s worth of clothes at a time. My ‘off-season’ clothes are bundled into big plastic tubs and get shoved up into the loft, ready for next time. But, for pity’s sake, WHEN IS NEXT TIME?

I first felt the chilling effects of Wardrobaphobia a couple of weeks ago as I wrestled with one of the plastic tubs in the loft to retrieve my summer clothes for our upcoming trip to Sicily. I was going to swap them with my winter clothes to free up space. But what if it turns cold again?

It’s all very well to keep one jumper back, but which one? I like the cream-coloured one best, and sometimes the pink, but the blue one goes better with my favourite trousers, and the black one is a bit dressier.  So, I could keep all four back, but then obviously I’m going to need a selection of trousers, skirts, and jackets to go with each jumper.  And if it gets even colder, I’m going to need at least six different coloured scarves, of varying lengths. And don’t get me started on socks and tights.

That means I’m going to have to be even more selective about the summer clothes I bring down from the loft because it’s a military exercise I don’t wish to repeat more than a couple of times a year.

So, do I focus on what I’ll need in Sicily for two weeks where it’s going to be 26 degrees, or should I plan longer-term for an English summer, which definitely requires more layering, ergo more clothes, which I don’t have space for in my wardrobe if I hang on to my winter woollies, which no doubt I’m going to need at some stage during summer.

And we’re back to square one.

Wardrobaphobia. Noun.


Definition: A pathological fear of being forced to wear whatever’s in your wardrobe however much of a goose you might feel, because the item/s of clothing you really need for [insert appropriate eventuality, ie the unseasonal English weather, an unexpected social occasion, colour coordination with your favourite boots, the beach] is in the frigging loft!


  1. Yes, but where do you keep them all, Susan? In the loft?

  2. Definitely a similar problem in Vancouver. Layers work but only to certain extent. The weather can change so quickly in one day so you can start out in winter and end up in summer or vice versa. And then because of the rain you need several raincoats, rain pants, shoes, umbrellas. One set doesn’t dry out fast enough for the next wearing.

  3. Thanks, Thommo. Unfortunately girls don’t know how to cull their wardrobe 😆

  4. Well Mel, being that I live in a tiny little flat with no storage I can sort of understand your situation.
    My storage problem is solved now by culling my clothing down to 6 pairs of shorts 8 tee shirts 4 button up shirts 2 pair of runners and 1 pair of thongs (flip flops for our pommy mates)
    BUT!!!!!I am a bloke and I live in tropical North Queensland.
    I am loving your British missives, please alert Russell to “The Gentlemen “ the latest from Guy Ritchie
    Cheers Ian.

  5. Layers! That’s half the battle won! Thanks, Shelagh

  6. Ah, yes, Gayleen, every traveller’s nightmare. Several different weather scenarios and only one suitcase. A tricky one. Good luck and make sure you sign up for my support group!

  7. And all of that makes perfect sense… Happens every time I travel from Cairns.. I only travel with carry-on (since Qantas lost my luggage in 2016). I am good at “layering” and content my self with 3 scarves to demonstrate variety. It really is a problem…

  8. I had no idea how easy I had it in Cairns. One set of clothes for 12 months of the year. It’s a bloody luxury!

  9. so, I’m having the same condition what to pack 6 weeks mid Apri to End June Europe.
    Start London, then Athens then a 12-day cruise (weather plus can’t wear same outfit every day ??)Greece, Italy, Turkey, trip to Gallipoli then Paris 6 days? Help !! this is definitely a modern day condition

  10. Oh no!! Couldn’t stop laughing here! The only decision we have to make nearly year round in North Queensland … shall I wear underwear today? This is only a priority if going out!

  11. Ha ha, Trina. You can be the first guest speaker at my support group meetings!

  12. You’re not alone Mel.

    I’ve suffered this condition since apartment living, and still unable to relieve myself of symptoms.

    Culling doesn’t help because you forget you’ve thrown items out only to realise after a days pulling out all the plastic containers you sent it to the OpShop.

    Join our club, thank you for giving it a name 😊👍 😂

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