How to become a better shopper (a New Year's resolution)31 Dec 2014
Chances are you might intend to improve your shopping habits in the coming year. So here are a few tips on how you can achieve your goal without too much hassle, beginning with sorting out your wardrobe of course...
P.S. La versión en español se puede encontrar en el directorio de Slow Fashion Spain modasostenible.org.
Should I stay or should I go?
The "pile" system surely works best, divide your wardrobe into the following piles:
Keep:You know a piece is a "keeper" when the following can be answered with an immediate "YES":
- Do I wear it often?
- or: Have I got occasions to wear it to?
- Do I actually like it?
- Do I feel comfortable in it?
- Does it suit/bring the best out in me?
Not sure:It's good to be honest with yourself and not give away clothes that you either aren't ready to let go off, or that don't quite fulfil ALL the requirements listed above. Here we have to ask ourselves whether they could be improved by e.g.: altering, adjusting or mending them, or whether perhaps you should look for other ways of combining them - more of that later.
Have a careful think about this... you might get some money back if you sell some of your clothes on e.g. eBay, others might be appreciated by family members or friends - although please be cautious and don't force your old Christmas jumper on your poor goth niece. You might be better off donating said jumper to your local charity shop.
Before giving your old clothes away, you might want to do the following exercise. Have a good look at the pieces that were "bad purchases" and analyse what exactly went wrong there, this has certainly helped me becoming more careful!
For those of you who suffer the aforementioned condition, how about just creating a "Not sure" and a "Keep" pile and separate the two, either within the same or over two different wardrobes? Hopefully time will tell you what you do or don't need. You could even keep a chart to have statistical proof.
Now that you're left with the "keepers" and the newly improved "not surers", fancy a little styling session? Put some nice music on and try to make as many suitable combinations as possible with your decluttered wardrobe. Perhaps take some "selfies" in order to create a collage you can hang up inside your wardrobe as a reminder. If you don't trust your inner stylist, why not ask one of your more fashion-savvy friends to give you a hand? Other people often come up with ideas you've never even entertained before!
Need more inspiration? Check out these websites:
- Project 333 (How to live with 33 wardrobe items for 3 months)
- Team Wiking (The Minimalist Wardrobe)
The Shopping List
One of the great advantages of doing the "Style me" exercise is that it helps you identify what your wardrobe is lacking. So take good note of what you feel was missing when you put your looks together.
In the same way, be really honest with yourself and make a list of things you're lacking of in your daily life, anything from fluffy bunny slippers to "big pants", rest assured it can all be bought in style (if you put your mind to it!)
After this "brainstorm", write a final priority list. Think about where to best get the top five items first, otherwise you're likely to get distracted and forget your priorities. A (secret) Pinterest board might be quite helpful here, as well as asking the expert shoppers amongst your friends for tips.
Get the look (from YOUR wardrobe)
These kind of editorials, as nicely presented as they often are, should be taken with caution. How about figuring out first whether you could, perhaps not in quite the same way, but similarly, recreate such a look with your own wardrobe. This is where trying to crate a wardrobe rich in good basics turns into a treasure! I highly recommend:
- Into Mind
Avoiding the shopping traps
Now that we're finally getting to the fun part of it, I'd like to list a few traps we frequently fall into when shopping and how to best avoid them:
Filling the void in your wardrobe
No, no, no and no again! We didn't go through the entire ordeal above in order to run off and fill the poor thing again with other misfits. Remind yourself that building up a good wardrobe takes time, and there's clearly no deadline to adhere to, unless you're Anna Wintour!
Think of yourself as a designer and your wardrobe as your collection. First and foremost think your purchases through in depth, ask yourself the same questions as you did when you sorted your wardrobe out and don't buy anything which won't tick all the boxes!
Buy less, spend more (throw less)
One way of making sure you're curating a great wardrobe is definitely the "buy less and spend more" approach, why? Not only due to better quality, but simply spending more = thinking more, or at least that's hopefully how it works for most people. AND... the hurdles of giving away/replacing something expensive are also higher. I've followed this system this year and it has worked wonders, plus I seem to somehow like my more expensive clothes much better! To me they feel almost a little bit like a treat and so I look after them much better too.
Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Pre-Sales & Co.
1) Set a budget, if you go out shopping, perhaps take a cash amount with you and leave your credit cards at home.
2) Check first of all whether the items you had your eyes on before are now on sale. A (secret) Pinterest board might be a good idea here!
3) Only buy items that are on your "need" list.
4) If you're not sure about something, this also goes for potential "impulse purchases", ask yourself whether you'd buy it at the full price...
5) If you tend to buy too much, or you're indecisive by nature, take a critical shopping buddy with you who's not your mother (to be explained shortly).
6) Don't feel frustrated if everyone else (seems to have) bagged tonnes of bargains you're about to go home empty handed, think of what else the money you've just saved could get you, e.g. a nice massage at a SPA and also, pat yourself on the shoulder for not having given into all the temptations!
A few words on some Sales Assistants
Ranging from the totally indifferent, who are clearly to cool for
Another no no! Yes, you might get special deals or a 10% off here and there, but if you want to lose control over your spending, this is a sure way to do so. I haven't got a single one, which was a conscious decision after having seen people around me getting into quite a lot of debts thanks to them, and I can honestly say, I don't regret it.
Sorry, but Mum's not the word
In the same way our mothers secretly, or perhaps not so secretly, fantasise about other aspects of our lives, they sure won't draw the line at our wardrobes. Having overheard many unhelpful mother/daughter conversations in changing rooms, I'm a firm believer of shopping without Mama - however close you are. I love my Mum dearly, but it was thanks to her that I didn't touch a single shade of green for over a decade - enough said!
Yep, they're almost everywhere, like a pandemic plague they're invading our phone's and whatever else's screens, in the same way promotional emails clutter our inboxes. Try to leave your details with as few shops as possible and unsubscribe from as many of your existing subscriptions as possible. Limit the temptations and focus on your "need" list - without wanting to sound too biblical.
Happy 2015 & clever shopping!
All pictures by Anne Duthie