How many clothes do you really need? If you were allowed to wear only 10 items for a year, excluding shoes and underclothes, would you be appalled or secretly rather relieved?
It's a question that maybe should be taken seriously as the "minimalist wardrobe" movement, which started as a tiny esoteric fad, is fast burgeoning into a world-wide campaign.
Let's admit it, most of us have clothes that we never wear but hesitate to get rid of because we've spent money on them — and there's always the chance that we might wear them one day...
So ask yourself: Does it fit? Does it look good on me? When was the last time I wore it? If you can't answer "yes", "yes" and "within the last year", then surely it's time the stuff has to go? One friend who is now an avid minimalist has now got rid of nearly half the stuff in her once-crammed wardrobe — and feels all the better for it..."Having fewer clothes can actually allow you more freedom. Instead of spending time sorting and searching for something you might or might not wear, you can spend more time doing things you actually want to be doing."
If you are interested in becoming a minimalist, there's even a Facebook page - Project 333 - to help you, which currently has over 12,000 likes.
It advises: "Don't get rid of anything at first. Hold on to everything and gradually get rid of things that you don't wear and aren't likely to. "Everyone has different reasons for paring down their wardrobe. For some it's to reduce stress and clutter.
"For others it's to focus on quality rather than quantity and to return to high-quality items that will stand the test of time." If you really want to join the minimalist movement, it helps to invest in quality pieces that do double, triple or even quadruple duty.
For instance, think about a crisp white blouse, a black blazer and a perfectly-fitting pair of jeans accompanied by shoes and accessories to keep you on trend. Our friend says that cutting back on clothes is changing her life. "After three months, I found I didn't miss any of the stuff I had taken to the charity store. I still buy, but only the very best I can afford — and things that they really need."Ironically only the other day someone said how much better dressed I had become lately!"
• Wear colour loud and proud and in big contrasting blocks from zingy orange to not-so-mellow yellow. It's the clash that counts. It's a crazy trend, but it's really taken off.
• Jumpsuits are going from strength to strength. Against all expectations they have been the soar-away success of the season. If your figure is not quite what it was, go for a fairly loose jumpsuit in supple plain fabric and wear with stilettos, big bangles and tons of kohl.
• Karl Lagerfeld made the headlines by putting his models in boyish retro suede "brothel-creepers" and now celebs like Rihanna virtually live in theirs. In fact creepers have been around a long time —WWII soldiers were allowed to wear them off-duty.
• Talking about shoes, look out for "flatforms" — sandal-style footwear raised up on platforms. To stop them looking too dumpy, team flatforms with tailored trousers and jackets.
• Give a denim dress retro-appeal with a pin-up style cinched-in waist and cherry-red platforms. You can also keep a denim dress in fashion by wearing it ultra-short or loose and smock-like.
Time was when "matchy-matchy" was a term of derision — implying that wearing matching prints was playing safe to the point of dowdiness.
Not any more.
The latest collections by designers like Mulberry and Valentino have put complete co-ordinates (wearing carbon-copy prints top and bottom) back on the fashion front-line. Now well-fitting matching separates are suddenly everywhere, ranging from all-black (smart, simple and very flattering) to sophisticated checks in subtle prints, and "pyjama suits" in snazzy designs.
So to the question: Can matching prints ever be stylish? The answer is a resounding "yes".