Sunday, 18 January 2015

My New Shopping Rules

I can be a bit of a hoarder - a trait I get from Daddy - and while I once dreamed of an overflowing wardrobe, I've now come to realise how little I actually want that! I mean, it's a bit of a nightmare really. You end up having lots of a things you never wear that hide the things you're actually looking for. You forget about half the things you own and you get overwhelmed by how stifling too much choice can be. Most of us have lived the cliche of pulling everything out of a closet and still feeling like you have absolutely nothing to wear.

I've also been becoming less satisfied with the contemporary relationship with clothes, material goods, shopping and wastefulness. Don't get me wrong, I'll still always love the shows and new collections but I can admire without possessing. I basically just want to invest in good, long-wearing pieces I adore from now on instead of amassing an abundance of things I could very much live without. I don't want to weigh myself down with things anymore and I'm rather concerned about my carbon footprint. "Less is more" has been my philosophy for a while when styling and I want to make it apply to obtaining as well.


In accordance with these feelings and going in to a new year, I've had two clearouts of my wardrobe - one before Christmas and one after all the new items received as gifts etc. I donated much of what I took out of there but I plan to sell higher-end pieces in order to create that investment fund for future purchases. I was going to use ebay to do this but Ciara O'Doherty's post on de-cluttering your wardrobe reminded me of Siopaella, a designer consignment store in Dublin that buys pieces to sell on. You could also keep a bag of stuff to one side for a clothes swap event or use an app like Depop. I just like the idea of being able to drop stuff off when it suits me and do a transaction without the muss and fuss of posting. I think selling items makes it much easier to part with them and the combination of donation and earning cleans out your wardrobe while giving your soul a bit of a polish and replenishing your bank account.

I've also set myself some new rules which I'm going to try and enforce from now on when shopping.

1. Replace rather than replicate.

There are certain pieces I love and live in - boyfriend jeans, massive coats, slip-on shoes, ankle boots. And as I rarely go a day without wearing one of these items, it makes me feel justified in having multiples of them. While I think it is actually fair enough to have two maybe three of these types of items, I've gone way overboard with coats and boots. Moving forward, however, I'm only allowing myself to buy these pieces when another has to be thrown out or replaced.

2. Try Things On (or, "If it doesn't look good' get rid of it").

I am atrocious for being too lazy to try things on. Which means I had a lot of things in my closet that didn't fit or look right. If a piece is worth it, I'm all about having things altered but if the basic shape or colour or length doesn't look right on you, chuck it. Wearing these items will only make you anxious or feel bad about yourself and ain't nobody got time for that. And for the love of God, don't buy items for when you lose weight. That one motivation dress is fine but half a wardrobe of things that don't fit will only weigh you down and discourage you - you are worth way more than that kind of nonsense. (This obviously doesn't apply to pregnancy) From now on, I'm trying things on and if they don't work, no matter how cute, I'm not going to waste money, space and energy hoping this will magically change.

3. Alter Your Outlook.

Conversely, I really do believe in alteration. Don't get me started about how ridiculous women's dress sizes are (I mean, at least use standardised measurements rather than numbers that forward the agenda of your brand) but the whole idea of RTW is somewhat preposterous. Yes, off the rack garments are handy but we're all so different that they rarely work. My advice is to have important pieces altered. If you've found the perfect white shirt but it doesn't fit your boobs right or the sleeves or hem are too long - don't leave it behind!

4. Don't Settle.

You've been after a leather jacket or the perfect cropped trousers or satchel or whatever for absolutely ages. You've lost hope that you'll ever find it. I've been there - I'm still hunting for a white shirt I really love. But unless you need the item right away resist accepting second best. I always see pieces vaguely like what I'm after but not quite right and because they're on sale or just because they're right in front of me, I buy them. A few times. And then I have two or three items like what I want but not what I want. If you have to save for a while or wait a little longer, it's worth it.

5. Shop with your eyes, hands, heart and head.

Increasingly, I'm trying to think more about what I'm buying - to use my head and my senses. I've been shopping with my hands for a while because we wear garments, not just appreciate them from afar so I don't want artificial fibres that create static or any materials that don't feel good against the skin. I also attempt to be more aware of where the garment is coming from and check the labels. I try to feel the quality and look at how the piece has been made. In other words, I try not to be blinded by how something looks and think about its origins, use and future.


6. Avoid Sales.

Unless I've been keeping my eye on something, waiting for the price to be a little more reasonable. Otherwise, I'll avoid sales from now on. I know they're tempting but bargains are false economy if they're using up money you could save for something you really want and need.

7. Learn to Shop without buying or Just Don't Shop.

I often accompany friends or family members as their fashion eye for advice when they need an outfit for a occasion or general wardrobe updates - I've been known to do wonders for small budgets. But just because I'm shopping doesn't mean I have to buy something. Same goes for holidays - you may want a memento but can photographs and memories themselves not suffice? These are the moments you buy things you really don't want or need.

8. Want vs. Need vs. Can't Live Without.

Speaking of wants and needs - it's good to start distinguishing between these. I've always had a "standard" to shop by which was to only buy things I couldn't imagine leaving the shop without. However, I'm not always strict enough with myself on this one. From now on, I'm going to stick by all my above rules with the caveat that I can cheat if I absolutely adore something.

9. Go Shopping When the Mood is Right.

This one's important. Just as I try not to buy just because I'm shopping, I try not to buy the wrong things because I'm hungry, too warm, bored, tired or not feeling good about myself. If you're not feeling it, take a break, have a coffee or tea and come back to it or leave it for another day. Try not to get too warm and don't let yourself get hungry. It's easy to just buy something because you're fed up and want to go home. And dressing rooms have some of the least flattering lighting and mirrors that can completely discourage you which can put you off point number two and leave you buying things you haven't tried on that don't fit.

10. Always Have a List In Mind.

Finally, I'm going to allow myself buy at most one item of clothing or an accessory a month but I'm going to keep a list of items in mind that my wardrobe needs - key pieces, basics, replacements, upgrades. This means that if I do have an urge to shop, it'll only be for something I really need and am going to use. Having a plan in mind makes it a lot easier to avoid buying pieces that are too attached to a particular trend or that you don't really want.

Okay! That ended up being a lot of words but I hope they helped some people out....not least of all me. Let me know if you have similar aims and any tips for staying on track!

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