Jewellery – lost and found

This weekend I wanted a distraction from being cooped up in lockdown alone, so I asked followers of my Instagram page to send me their stories of lost jewellery (everyone has one). I was surprised by how many lost jewels actually turned up, and in the most random places – sometimes 10 years or more later. So often it’s the sentimental attachment that makes losing jewellery difficult, above the monetary value. A ring inherited from Grandma, a 21st Birthday watch – jewellery inherited or given as a gift can be the only tangible attachment we have with loved ones no longer with us, or symbolic of family bonds and milestones, so it is often irreplaceable. My favourite story was a lady whose husband lost his wedding band whilst preparing a cannon to fire during a military ceremony!

Another favourite was a lady retrieving a ring, lost for 15 years, on her gardening fork while digging up veg! It reminded me of this news story where a lady dug up a carrot and miraculously her diamond ring, lost for 10 years, was stuck around it.  I think sometimes the jewellery wants to be found and eventually you’re drawn to it. 

There were also lots of stories of children “playing postman” with Mama’s precious jewels and dropping them down floorboard cracks. I like hearing the random places where jewels turn up – biscuit tins, candle sticks, flower pots – and so many years later. Diamonds really are forever, even if they’re not with you! 

I rarely travel with anything too valuable or sentimental these days after I lost a St. Christopher pendant I bought on the Ponte Vecchio in Florence to bring me luck when I travel. The pendant wasn’t so lucky, sadly, as I lost it in Paris along with my watch. The watch turned up randomly in the bottom of a garment bag (it must have fallen off whilst I was packing), but I never found the necklace. Maybe one day it will re-surface like in your stories 🙂 

I’ve also been entrusted with extremely valuable jewellery with my work, so my focus is often on my employer’s jewellery rather than mine. I once worked for a lady who lost a yellow diamond earring when we were travelling in Japan (very rare and scarily expensive). We were travelling with a photographer, so I got his camera and looked through all the photos until I found one where she was wearing only one earring. The photo was taken in a clothing store where she was trying on scarves, so we called the store and they had found it! It was such a relief – and I got extra brownie points for my detective work 😉 I’ve also often had to retrieve a chain from a drain – blue tack on the end of a skewer works well for this! 

So remember – never wear precious rings when gardening or washing up! And never put your jewellery in a tissue or anywhere temporarily that isn’t a container – you will always forget it’s there!

With jewellery safe places and storage in mind – here are some ideas for trinket trays to keep near sinks, dressing tables and bedside tables, and portable travel jewellery organisers to keep your jewels safe and prevent future diamond dramas!

(some affiliate links used).

To secure earrings these lock backs are good – regular butterfly backs often come loose when changing clothes – probably the most common way of losing an earring.

Seasonal Storage – Spring

Summer days may be a little further around the corner, but as we are now officially in British Summer Time, it is a good time to start thinking about a wardrobe rotation and packing away those chunky winter knits (you might want to wait until after Easter, actually, as the Beast from the East’s extended family looks set to return for more unseasonal snow!) But with today marking the start of longer daylight hours, I thought it an appropriate time to share some tips on spring seasonal storage.

As the weather warms up you won’t be needing the chunky jumpers, blanket scarfs and winter woollens that have kept you cosy during the winter months, so it is a good idea to pack some of these garments away to free up space in your wardrobe for your spring and summer wear. Winter knitwear takes up a lot of space, so even packing away a few jumpers will free up a shelf or drawer for garments that you are more likely to wear in the coming months.

Clothes are at the greatest risk of damage when in storage if they are not protected properly, so ensure that you take the correct steps to protect your garments – especially woollen knitwear, which is prone to the scourge of the moth. Moths attack only natural protein fibres (cashmere, wool), so your winter wear is more susceptible than summer wear when in storage. If you have ever been the victim of a moth attack you will know the despair that comes with losing your favourite woollen jumper! And they never munch a hole in a discreet area like the cuff or underarm – somewhere that won’t be too visible; it’s always bang in the middle of the chest, ensuring there is no hope for hiding or fixing it, even if you are the most skilled of seamstresses! So, if you want your favourite luxury knits to embrace you next winter after their summer in hibernation, then follow my top tips for spring storage.

  • First, ensure that everything going into storage is washed, clean and thoroughly dry. Dirty clothes will attract bugs – any natural protein fibre clothing with old food stains or perspiration will attract moths and carpet beetles which cause damage to the clothing fibres. Some stains are colourless, so even if the clothes aren’t visibly dirty it is best to wash/dry-clean them first before storing.
  • Never store clothing in polythene bags or plastic garment bags, especially if the garments are made of natural fibres, which need to breathe. Condensation will form inside plastic bags and could cause mould or yellowing of fabrics, leading to permanent staining.
  • Garment bags should be made of a breathable material, like calico, and large enough to hold each garment.

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  • Garment bags and boxes can be bought from department stores and specialist storage companies such as The Holding Company  Remember to check the measurements of boxes before purchasing. I once bought 2 under-bed storage boxes only to realise on delivery that they were too tall to fit under my bed. So of course my solution was to buy a new bed! (My old one was on its last legs so it was about time anyway!)

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  • For added protection you could separate precious knitwear from other clothing and place it in special breathable jumper storage bags such as these from Hangerworld.

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  • Place an anti-moth lavender sachet at the top of each storage box, or hanging on the garment bag, to protect from moths and other pests.

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  • Place the storage containers in a cool damp-free area away from direct sunlight and heat. Above wardrobes or under beds are the most obvious places. Attics are not the best place for storing clothes as they are likely to become quite hot in summer and possibly damp in winter. They are also likely to be very dusty places as, unless you are the most devoted of housekeepers, it is unlikely that you regularly dust your attic!

If you are selecting clothes for storage, now is also a good time to have a wardrobe detox and get rid of things you don’t wear anymore – freeing up even more space for pretty summer clothes! See my post on detoxing your wardrobe for more tips on how to organise and clear out your clothes.





New Year, New Wardrobe

Hang on to your Christmas spirit a little longer and cleanse your closet instead.

If you are anything like The Lady’s Maid, the last thing you want to do in the midst of January is adopt the customary New Year post-Christmas detox, diet or that strange phenomenon of recent years: “dry January” (why make the bleakest month of the year any worse by depriving yourself of a warming tipple). As the first month of the year, it is natural that the arrival of January prompts people to assess their lifestyles and want to improve, in an effort to “start as you mean to go on”. Still, The Lady’s Maid prefers to bask in the glory of Christmas until at least Candlemas. So, instead of depriving yourself of food and drink’s winter-warming sustenance, The Lady’s Maid suggests you turn your attention to a “wardrobe detox” instead.

If you have had a January Sales splurge and need to free up space for your new winter additions, then January is a perfect time to de-clutter your closet and release your inner “Marie Kondo”. Most ladies, at one time or another, have uttered the panic-stricken words “I have nothing to wear”. It is never usually true and often a result of clothing clutter – it is hard to create an outfit if you can’t easily locate one. Clearing out clothing clutter will also help you to identify what gaps you may have in your wardrobe – garments that you may need to purchase to get the full potential out of the clothes you currently have, enabling you to create outfits with ease and take the stress out of dressing.

A YouGov survey in 2012 revealed that there are around 2.4 billion pieces of clothing lying unworn per year in the UK, cluttering up wardrobes across the land; this equates to approx 46% of the national wardrobe. A similar survey in 2017 by Weight Watchers estimated the figure of wasted expenditure on clothing to be £10 billion, or £200 per adult, with only 55% of the clothes women own actually being worn. Clothing clutter is clearly an ongoing problem. Whilst some people may be hanging on to things for posterity, or “just in case” they may need it/fit in to it one day, there is undoubtedly a hoarding of unworn or unnecessary clothing going on.

With this in mind, when you go through your wardrobe, be realistic about the clothes that you wear day to day; hanging on to garments that you no longer wear takes up space unnecessarily, so try to adopt a ruthless sorting process. Divide into the following groups:

  1. Keep, wear regularly
  2. Keep, but need to supplement with new purchases in order to wear
  3. eBay/re-sell
  4. Charity
  5. Storage (out of season)
  6. Discard/recycle

If garments no longer fit or you haven’t worn them in a while, try selling them on eBay first or donate to a charity shop. Popular designer and high-street labels and occasion outfits/dresses tend to sell better than casual clothes on eBay, so consider sending casual clothes straight to the charity shop, if they are in good condition, or to a clothing recycling bank. High-end designer labels will also sell well on designer second-hand clothing websites, such or

 Keeping organised

To keep your clothing collection at a manageable level with a wardrobe that is accessible and wearable, try to resist purchasing any unnecessary items; focus instead on filling the gaps in your wardrobe that were revealed after the clear-out. Group 2 (things that you are keeping but need to supplement with new purchases in order to wear) is likely to be full of separates which only work if they have something to work with. Make a list of things you think your existing wardrobe would benefit from and focus on acquiring these items the next time you go clothes shopping. Your goal is for a versatile and manageable wardrobe to fit in with your space and lifestyle. Resist the temptation to purchase new one-off garments unless you think they will complement what you already own.

Once the detox is complete, your remaining wardrobe needs to be efficiently organised so that you can easily locate specific garments. It will be much easier to avoid clutter creeping back in if everything is suitable stored.

Here are The Lady’s Maid’s Top Tips for Organising your Wardrobe:

  • The best way to organise your clothing in your wardrobe is to divide it into sections, such as: work wear, casual wear, evening wear, sportswear. Within these sections organise garments by type (skirts/trousers/tops), and then by colour, darks to lights.
  • If you want your wardrobe to look neat and streamlined, discard shop hangers that came with your garments as these will vary in size and add bulk to the wardrobe space. If you adopt slim velour-covered plastic hangers, or slim rubber hangers throughout the rail you will keep the clothes hanging at an even level and achieve a streamlined visual effect as well as saving space.

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  • Keep woollen knitwear folded to protect the natural fibres which will stretch if hung on a clothes hanger. Box-folding and arranging by colour is the best way of organising knitwear – keep different types together i.e. high-necks, V-necks, crew-necks etc for ease of location and then organise each type by colour, darks to lights. You can use a shirt-folding template to help achieve a uniform shape, or a plastic chopping board works just as well!

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  • Hanging shoe organisers are a great space saver for flat footwear. These can be hung over a hanging rail to allow you to store multiple pairs of shoes. You can also store other small accessories here, such as scarfs, belts and gloves.

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  • Out-of-season clothing can be stored on top of the wardrobe or under the bed, to free up space for clothing in wear during the current season. Be sure that any storage boxes and bags that you use are appropriate for clothing – they should be made of breathable cotton or canvas material, not plastic. And if woollen knitwear is present, add a lavender sachet to ward off the pesky moth. Delicate garments should be folded with acid-free tissue paper to protect them from creasing.

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  • Drawer organisers are useful for keeping different types of underwear separate, and preventing you from having a top drawer full of jumbled smalls. If you don’t have drawers, then you could arrange underwear in open shoeboxes on shelves, or in similar shaped boxes.

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  • Acrylic drawers and stackable trays are a good way of storing costume jewellery and sunglasses to protect them from dust; the transparent plastic makes it easy to view the contents.

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This article also features on The Lady magazine website:





Pack like a Pro

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© Punch Limited, 1895


“I get ideas about what’s essential when packing my suitcase.”

– Diane von Furstenberg.

The Lady’s Maid is a seasoned pro when it comes to packing – she has been known to pack 10 suitcases in the time it takes for her Ladyship to have breakfast, whilst also being afflicted with jet lag and recovering from the after effects of a mild electric shock in Bangkok. But if the thought of packing sends you into a cold sweat, worry not: follow the Lady’s Maid’s practical packing advice below to ease pre-travel stress and ensure that your clothes are kept in tip-top condition in transit and on arrival at your destination.

  • Don’t overpack. You might be going on holiday, going away for the weekend, or on a business trip – you’re not moving home, so be selective when packing clothing for trips. Think about what you’re going to be doing on the trip and what the weather will be like and pack accordingly. Plan outfits in advance – bring a selection of clothing out of your wardrobe and think about what will work together for the trip. Separates that can be mixed and matched are a good idea in order to maximise outfit opportunities. Avoid too many brightly coloured or patterned “statement” pieces that will be harder to wear multiple times.
  • If you are packing delicate, beaded or crease-prone garments, use acid-free tissue paper (available from Hangerworld) to protect the fabric and minimise the risk of creasing. Pack heavier items at the bottom of the case (shoes, bags) and lighter clothing items at the top.

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  • Try to fold garments along natural seam lines as much as possible to minimise creasing. Avoid vertical folds as these do not fall out as naturally.
  • Pack trousers by folding the trouser leg half in the case and half out and then continue to pack clothing before folding the outer part of the trouser in once the case is full. This will prevent you from having to fold the trouser leg on itself which would create a crease.
  • Lingerie/laundry bags are a good way of keeping underwear together in the suitcase.

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  • Dustbags for shoes and bags are also worth using to protect the contents and the surrounding clothes. More expensive shoes usually come with a dust bag but you can buy them separately like this one from Cath Kidston or you could even make your own.

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  • If you travel regularly, it is well worth keeping a travel toiletry bag separate from your main home toiletries so that you don’t have the extra bother of having to constantly pack these every time you travel. Pack liquids in zip-lock bags before placing in toiletry bags for added security – if there is any leakage your clothing will be protected. Travel hanging toiletry bags with transparent pockets for makeup are also great for travel as you can hang them straight up and easily locate their contents.

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  • Try to streamline your skincare and beauty routine when on holiday as toiletries will really weigh down your suitcase. Most chemists and skincare brands offer a large range of mini toiletries these days, or you can decant your favourite products into empty plastic bottles – Muji has a good range of mini pumpable, sprayable and squeezable empty bottles.

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  • Portable steamers are great for quickly eliminating any creasing in your clothing when travelling – they’re really easy to use on dresses and blouses and will save you the effort of having to get out the ironing board or fork out a fortune for hotel laundry services.


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  • Even The Lady’s Maid has been caught out with a hefty fee for an overweight suitcase. Check the weight of your bag before leaving for the airport with a hand held weighing scale – find out the weight limits of your airline to ensure that you won’t be lumbered with an excess baggage fee when you get to the airport.

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See Styling a Holiday Wardrobe for more tips on packing the perfect suitcase.

Bon Voyage!