Fashion has long been used as a form of self-expression; getting dressed can be wonderfully complex or ridiculously simple depending on an infinite amount of variables on any given day that include but aren’t limited to: the occasion…. our mood… that day’s self-image… the weather.
The complex relationship that a lot of us have with clothes leads us to hoard on a ‘maybe one day‘ basis and buy on a ‘this’ll do for today‘ basis meaning, despite having a heaving wardrobe full of garments we frequently find ourselves proclaiming that we have ‘nothing to wear’.
I used to be in this familiar cycle in my early 20’s- panic-buying something new for every occasion then, loosing interest in it as soon as it was worn once but there’s a fairly simple logic behind that; A) I would’ve panic-bought so much other crap that month that I’d very little money to spend each time I went to grab something new, meaning I’d opt for the cheapest piece on the rack rather than the piece I truly wanted and B) I didn’t consider the item carefully before I bought it in the first place.
I’ve seen articles written around curbing shopping habits previously but, these never really spoke to me as they always seemed to scold fast fashion purchases in favour of ‘investment pieces’ when in reality a lot of us don’t feel like we can avoid shopping altogether for 6 months just to invest in something major or, may not be able to put aside the money for a significant purchase and, may not even know how to choose that one bloody thing when the time comes!!
With that in mind I wanted to write my own piece on what worked for me to reign things in from constantly adding to an overcrowded wardrobe to only adding things I truly like, that suit what I already have and, that I know I’ll get lots of wear out of.
The irony is that I now spend less money on clothes than ever before yet almost never have the sense of ‘having nothing to wear’ but, how did I turn things around?
These are the most prominent tips & tricks I developed to change my mindset:
This is a two-step effort that starts with firstly putting aside an evening to actively plan outfits from what you already own… and don’t even try the time excuse here because if you have time to go shopping and, time to work to earn the money that you need to do that shopping you most certainly have the time to spend outfit planning.
Think about how much you spend on clothes each month (be honest!) then, work out how many hours it takes you to earn that money and how many hours you spend shopping.. I can almost guarantee it’ll be more time than what it’ll take you to do one evening of outfit planning every so often.
Feel like you have nothing to even start with in your wardrobe? That’s where step two come in; Pinterest!
I swear Pinterest is an absolute life-saver when it comes to outfit planning for me, I simply go to my wardrobe & find an item I’m in the mood to wear or at least could consider being in the mood to wear then get started… Say its a red jumper, I type ‘red jumper outfit’ into Pinterest and thousands of images of girls wearing red jumpers in thousands of different looks will come up… within seconds I’m already feeling inspired to style that tired jumper in ways I never would’ve thought of previously.
The satisfaction from creating a new look from pieces you already own is far better than the momentary satisfaction you get from buying yet another item of clothing plus, you’re left with money to spend going out in that fabulous new look you just created; win win.
Two Wildly underutilized tools in the fashion books if you ask me.
Guest at a wedding? Don’t go spending a small fortune on something you’ll likely only wear once, why not ask a friend to borrow that beautiful dress she wore to a wedding last spring instead? Or, ask your sister if you can borrow that stunning little number she wore to an event a few weeks back?
Not only will they likely be delighted (and flattered) to see their pieces get more wear, you’re opening the narrative for them to borrow from you in return meaning you both have an opportunity to wear beautiful outfits for half the money you would’ve spent otherwise.
My friends and I used to meet on a 6-month basis, each bringing a bag full of pre-loved clothes, some wine and a few nibbles and spend the evening swapping; we’d keep it casual by not dictating the amount of clothes anybody wanted to bring, what brand etc (after all, we don’t want the clothes any more so why would we be resentful of offering them to a friend in return for an item of lesser value or for no item at all?).
We’d each take it in turns to pull pieces out of our bag, if someone shouted for it, it was their’s, if more than one person shouted for it it’d go into a ‘fight’ pile and, if nobody shouted for it it’d go into a ‘shite’ pile. The fight pile items would usually be resolved by one of the girls trying it on & deciding it didn’t suit or, someone offering it to the other depending on how much stuff they’d already acquired on the night.
These nights are so much fun… it’s such a laugh to see what people bring, it’s so amazing to see people going home with pieces they love and, you to get loads of fab new bits completely for free! Try it as your next girl’s night in, I promise you’ll have a great time.
Whether its online or, in store apply the 24 hour rule. This is simply waiting 24 hours before purchasing anything at all.
Yes, it might be a hassle but I guarantee half the time you won’t bother purchasing after the 24 hours meaning you didn’t truly love the item or, you were shopping in the moment of distraction/an emotional state. Even if you were looking in-store, you can always go to their online store & purchase after 24 hours rather than going back in again.
Another thing I do to decide if I really like what I’m about to spend my money on is, after the 24 hours I recount everything I have in the virtual shopping basket in my head before I go back to purchase. If I can’t even remember an item I wanted to buy just a few hours ago I can hardly be that interested in it so, I leave it out… simple and effective.
I used to be so bad for just buying anything that caught my eye with no thought given as to whether it’d even go with the pieces I already owned…. I’d then wear it once (with black jeans as it clashed with everything else I owned) then toss it to the back of the wardrobe and repeat.
If I was feeling even more frivolous I’d follow that careless purchase with even more careless purchases buying things to go with the new thing I own… then wear the complete new outfit once, realise the pieces go with absolutely nothing else I already own so, toss them all to the back of the wardrobe.
Sound familiar? If this is you I urge you to stop wasting your hard-earned money like this!!
I curbed this terrible habit with my outfit planning (meaning the craving to panic-buy was a lot less frequent), applying my 24 hour rule and, by challenging myself before purchases to come up with 3 different ways I could wear it with the clothes I already owned… if I couldn’t do it I’d walk away knowing I’d saved myself yet another cycle of ‘wear-toss-repeat’.
These are four habits I adapted to become a happy shopper… they may seem overwhelming now but, I implemented them over time until they’ve become second nature to me. By giving myself cooling off time to avoid wasting money I have more money left over to spend on the items I truly love, none of these tricks should feel like punishment to you, rather really good steps to ensure your money is worth more than some panic-bough lime green top you wore once to an office party.
It’s ok to wear the same thing again and again
Constantly buying new stuff is a waste of money, a waste of time, bad for the environment and, completely counterproductive to honing personal style
It’s ok to wear something ‘plain/safe/boring’
It’s ok to wear the same dress to another event. Trust me, most people wont even notice (we’re not as interesting to other people as we think we are!) and if they do they’ll commend you for not bowing down to bullshit social pressures of only wearing something once.
Regular wardrobe clearouts will actually make you feel like you have more to wear as they remind you of what you really want to keep.
And lastly, styling an item loads of ways is the true sign of good fashion sense so, focus on honing that skill instead of filling that basket!
Implement these tricks, see how they work for you and, be sure to let me know how you get on xx