AKA – how to buy things without buying too much.
I used to be a terrible impulse shopper but, in recent years, I've found myself becoming a lot more considered with my shopping habits. In fact, I wouldn't say I even enjoy the actual shopping part as much as I used to.. And so, as it's probably about time to start thinking about what to wear for Spring/Summer, I decided to collate my thoughts on the matter.
Below, I'm talking about assessing what you already own, finding inspiration, and my love for Polyvore.
'Shop' your wardrobe
I actually really hate the above term, but the point still stands. Before you begin to think about adding items to your wardrobe, sort through what you already have. I like to take everything out of my wardrobe and go through piece by piece, asking myself the following questions:
- Do I wear it often?
- Does it still fit?
- Am I saving it for an event that's actually going to happen?
- Is it still my style?
If the answer to those questions is a resounding 'no', then it's probably time to get rid. I like to make an Ebay/Depop pile and a charity pile. If the Ebay/Depop pile stays untouched for two weeks, I'll add those things to the charity pile, because if I haven't listed it by now, will I ever? Answer: no.
If you have pieces that are seasonal – the ones that have no business being around for Spring/Summer, but you know you'll wear again come Autumn – then pack these away.
I'm a fan of the vacuum pack storage bags for this, especially when it comes to jumpers and coats. But please, please, please, remember where you've stored them. I recently discovered that the summer dresses I 'packed away' last year have gone missing. I fear they accidentally ended up in a charity pile, and are now being worn by someone who must've been thrilled to get a beautiful Topshop midi dress for next to nothing in their local charity shop.
Whilst it's super easy to spend an hour or so online, filling your basket with new items, sometimes you need to take inspiration from places other than the ASOS new-in section. Below are just a few of the places I like to turn to when I'm having a 'I have nothing to wear!!!' day. Which is far too often given the amount I really do have to wear.
- Pinterest – My Style and Detail boards are the ones I pin to the most. Whenever I'm feeling a little unsure of how I'd wear something, or want to see how other's might style a certain item, I turn to Pinterest for help.
- Instagram – This tends to be my biggest enabler. If someone else is wearing a nice top, I'll want that nice top. And I'm filled with joy when I realise someone has bothered to tag where all their items are from too!
- #OOTD – As well looking at what other's are wearing, I try to keep a record of the outfits I'm wearing. Sometimes I'll upload these to my Instagram stories, but I also keep them in a folder on my laptop. This way I can go back and remind myself how I styled items in the past.
- Real life people – You know, the ones that aren't behind a screen. Colleagues, the girl standing infront of you in the queue, someone sat opposite you on the train. If I see someone wearing something I like, if I'm not feeling too self-conscious, then I'll try and pay the wearer a compliment and find out where it's from. In an 'online world', it can seem slightly unnatural to actually talk to a real life person. But if someone compliments my dress, I'll go out of my way to show them where to buy it, and even try and dig out a discount code or two! Plus I'll remember the compliment all day.
Consider your purchases
Once you've worked out what you already own, it's time to start thinking about what pieces you can add. I used to be guilty of browsing online and adding everything and anything into my basket. However, I like to think I've reigned it in more recently.
If I see something I like, instead of adding it to my basket straight away, I try to see if it meets the following criteria:
- Is it my style? – If no, but it's still an amazing piece, maybe recommend it to a friend who you know would love it.
- Will I get enough wear out if it? – If you've got a special event/occasion coming up, maybe this is ok, but I like to try and buy pieces that I can wear on multiple occasions. I've bought so many pretty dresses in the past that haven't made it past the 'twirling round in front of the mirror at home' stage.
- Can I wear it to work? I realised recently that, as I spend five out of seven days a week at work and don't have a 'work wardrobe', I should be comfortable wearing at least the majority of my clothes into the office. This may not apply to everyone, but substitute this question for a similar one.
- Do I already own (a version of) this? – For me, this applied to Breton tops and light wash jeans. Yes it might be just my style, but I don't need three pairs of light blue, straight leg, high waist jeans. One good quality, comfortable, well fitting pair is enough.
- Can I already picture what I'll wear it with? Polyvore is a godsend for this, but I'll come onto that in due course.
- Can I stop thinking about it? – No? Buy it. Take it home. Try it on. And then ask yourself the above questions again. Sometimes the reality of something doesn't always live up to expectations – we've all seen (500 )Days of Summer – but it's good to get it out of your system and realise it wasn't meant to be. And if it does live up to the hype, then even better!
The longest I've spent deliberating over something is probably this Mango dress (pictured above). I spotted it online back in February, but almost £50 seemed a lot for something I wasn't 100% about. Yet I kept going back to look at it, so I pinned it to Polyvore and put together some outfits, and realised I needed it in my life. I was a little concerned that it wouldn't fit, but I added it to my basket, checked-out and haven't looked back since. I also haven't worn it since, but that's a weather issue.
I've written about Polyvore briefly before – this is definitely not hashtag ad, I just really love it. To me, it's the online equivalent of taking something home and trying it on. For those unfamiliar with it, it's essentially a place to save items you like, browse other items, and put together outfits and collections.
Whenever I'm considering a purchase, I make sure to 'pin' it to my items on Polyvore. I also save items I already own, so that I can put together outfits comprising of potential purchases and things that are already part of my day-today wardrobe. I find it so helpful in working out, realistically, how much wear I'm going to get out of something.
Sometimes I'll use it to 'get things out of my system'. Again, the equivalent of ordering that thing from ASOS that you're never going to wear, but just want to try it on and send it back. I have no reason to wear the pink fluffy coat/cold shoulder dress combo below, and I definitely can't walk in backless mules, but it's nice to look at, right?
Of course, I don't go through this process for absolutely everything I buy, but I find the the above definitely makes me think a little more before buying. I'd much rather my wardrobe be full of things I love and look forward to wearing, you know?