Monday, 16 June 2014

Thrifty Fashion Habits

Some things I have found useful when it comes to dealing with my wardrobe and shopping for clothing.

1) Develop a style - possibly the most important tip ever.
  • what shapes do you feel look best on you? 
  • what fabrics do you feel best in?
  • what colours do you like to wear the most?
  • what items do you feel most comfortable in (skirts/jeans/dresses/leggings etc.)
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  • make a scrapbook (pinterest is good for this) of styles you like - only those that you would wear and fit the answers to the questions above. It is no good pinning pictures of tight leather skirts just because you like them on other people, if you feel uncomfortable in them and do not feel they suit you or if you don't have the confidence to actually wear it. 
  • go through your wardrobe and remove everything that is not 'your style' 
  • go through what is left and remove what doesn't fit (keep it in storage if your weight fluctuates and it is honestly likely to fit again)
  • only buy what is your style.
Having a good clear idea of your style can really help prevent bad purchases - clothes you realise you will never wear (you were just 'feeling like you needed more yellow' on that day), clothes that don't look right (it doesn't matter how good they look on other people, low rise jeans will NEVER suit me. They may even fit me in the changing room just fine, but once I start walking around, I just know I'm going to reveal far too much due to my high hips preventing them from staying up) and clothes that go with nothing else you own. Instead, you will have a wardrobe filled with things you love, feel comfortable in and hopefully match at least one other thing in your wardrobe. Getting dressed will be easier. Shopping will be easier. You won't end up with a bunch of mis-matched stuff, regret purchases or bin bags full of clothes waiting to find a new home (for a fraction of the cost you paid for them). 
If you think you have a style but still struggle to find something to wear, try developing it some more..

2) Try it on before you buy (unless you are buying online or buying a duplicate of something you know fits - i.e. if you live in leggings like I do and buy the exact same style, or you are buying jeans to replace worn out ones)

3) Keep it simple. Having a simpler wardrobe makes it easier to mix and match clothing and you can jazz it up with accessories to achieve the look you desire.

4) Learn how to care for your clothing
  • wear the right clothes for the job (i.e. housework, sports, diy etc.)
  • protect your clothes appropriately (always use an apron when doing messy work, use a napkin when eating) - this saves clothes from so many stains. prevention is always better!
  • wash your clothing according to the label (although cool washes are usually better than hot or warm for both fabric and wallet, unless there are stain/smell reasons to choose otherwise)
  • treat stains immediately (cold processed bar soap {even hand soap}, cold water and scrubbing {if the material is not delicate} can do most stains. for more specific stains/fabrics, refer to a book like this one, or search the net). always rinse blood stains in pure cold water and just scrub lightly - using hot water/products will set the stain.
  • hang clothes to dry instead of using a dryer.
  • only wash clothes when necessary - i.e. if they smell or have gotten dirty. airing, especially in the sun/fresh air, can help extend the wearing period (rather than leaving in a heap on the floor).
  • use washing bags for delicate items - these net bags can stop long stretchy t-shirts from getting wrapped around the other washing and stretching out, it can stop bras from being caught up, silk from getting snagged etc. a pillowcase can also work, if you do not want to buy a net bag. old tights are useful for smaller items.
  • hand wash very delicate items
  • use less soap. unless very dirty. strong detergent can reduce the life of fabrics, even if just a little.
  • repair clothes quickly. sew buttons/holes back on asap to avoid further damage or looking scruffy. small nicks in tights/mesh materials can be 'sealed' with a small dab of clear nail polish.
  • store clothes properly. I used to think it was silly to store winter clothes, but actually, folding up my unneeded winter coats, packing them carefully with lavender bags in a storage bag and putting them under the bed helps keep them in better condition than them sitting out gathering dust on the hanger, waiting for the colder months. keep out some lighter warm gear for cooler summer nights, and put the rest away (and vice versa for winter).
  • use a de-bobbler on jumpers to keep them looking good. if you have a lot of jumpers, an electric one which shaves the bobbles off will probably be a wise investment, as it pulls the fabric less than the manual shavers 
  • use the right hangers - too long hangers will create odd bumps in the shoulders of your tops/dresses
  • unbutton buttons to wash, but fasten zips - this puts the least strain on the button/zip and the fabric/stitching.
  • keep lavender bags or cedar wood amongst wool and silk items to prevent moth damage - even if you think you don't need it.
  • don't overfill your washing machine - this causes higher wear and tear for both clothes and machine.
  • wash colours and whites separate and keep pales out of dark washes to avoid colours leaking or fading.
  • learn how to darn socks, fix holes, attach buttons.
  • if you have the sewing skills, learn how to adjust clothing so it fits/hangs better.
  • reuse fabric when clothing is done
  • learn how to unshrink clothing (although it will never quite be the same again, so best to do your best to avoid it in the first place by washing cooler/gentler if you are unsure)
  • dye faded or horrible coloured clothing to suit your style, if possible.
  • keep shoes that are not worn often in boxes or shoe bags to protect them from the atmosphere (use those little silica gel pouches to keep them free from moisture, and place lavender bags in the box to keep them smelling nicer).
  • polish leather shoes often, wash trainers occasionally and waterproof shoes as necessary.
  • visit a cobbler for any shoe-related repairs as soon as they start to need it, to prevent needing to replace the shoe entirely. 
5) Keep a few of the essentials - if you live in jeans, owning just one pair (or one pair you love) will see that pair being worn and washed over and over and over. Having a few, or even just a couple, will double the lifespan of both pairs. And you won't have to panic about finding the same style/fit if it wears out the next season.

6) Find the cheapest way to get what you want.

  • Out of season ebay for wool clothing in the summer and summer clothing in the winter is even cheaper, although there is less choice. It is difficult to buy without trying on, but if you know which shapes and styles suit you, browse in and around your size and ask for measurements before bidding, if you can. 
  • Car boot sales, charity shops and jumble sales are also good. 
  • Cheapo shops are good for some things but not others. I buy basic tank tops from Primark (after trying on - all their clothing varies in size-fit) for a few pounds and I buy leggings from ebay - M&S seconds that I can see no problem with, are a fraction of the RRP, feel and fit comfortably and last well. 
  • If you have a specific ebay search term that doesn't draw too many results (after being narrowed by your size range etc.) - save that search and ask it to notify you whenever there are new results (only if you need that item/can afford to buy, otherwise it's just unnecessary temptation).
  • Use cashback sites and loyalty schemes. Ebay can now be linked up to your nectar card to earn points on your purchases - points which can be used to buy clothing or food from Sainsburys. Many high street retailers offer cashback through sites like Quidco when shopping online. Some, like Debenhams, even offer cashback through Quidco when you use a registered payment card to purchase items in their bricks and mortar stores. 
  • If you are not at risk of impulsiveness and debt, use a cashback credit card and always pay back in full. 
  • Go to clothes swaps with the clothes you discarded as not your style.
  • Only shop in places you can afford at the time of shopping. Unless you have really good will power. 
  • Keep a list of things to look out for. Whenever you have more money to spend on clothes, go searching in the places that suit your price range for the items you need. Only detour from the list if you find something you really love for a really good price.
  • If you're browsing on ebay, or a clothing site which has the function, refine your search results by price to avoid over-spending.
7) Keep only a small selection of clothing. If you don't go out in the evening that often, keep only one outfit for that purpose or, even better, have an outfit that can be worn during the day or 'jazzed up' with heels and accessories for the evening. Have clothes that are practical to your climate and lifestyle. If you really need a dress for a one-off party or a similar situation - buy cheap, buy second hand, buy wisely and then sell on. Don't hold on to what you don't need.

8) Put off purchases. Make sure you really want/need it and can afford it and avoid impulse buying.

9) If you are not too restricted by budget (or have minimised your spending by refining your style) - do not feel bad about spending a little more for quality. But only if it fits your style and is worn often. Use the 'cost per wear' formula to work out how much it will really cost you - a £90 evening dress worn once will cost you £90 per wear, or worn twice it will cost you £45 per wear. So evening wear is not worth splashing out on if you have a budget to think of, unless you are certain you can get the money back from reselling (and you know you would make the effort to do so).
If you spend £15 on a pair of boots that last a month and a half (45 days of wear), the cost per wear would be around 33p.
If you spend £90 on a pair of boots that last you a year (365 days of wear), the CPW would be 24p.

11) Don't focus on brands/labels/shops. Not if you're on a budget. There's no point. You can get nice, good quality clothing from a whole host of places. I got some cheapo pj bottoms from Primark for £3 for winter and they lasted much much better (still going) in comparison to a similar set that I got for Christmas which had come from John Lewis for £40 - which are now bobbled and wearing very thin. Some stuff I have gotten from Primark has been useless. Some brand names have been useless. Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be any consistency in clothing quality (or, a lot of the time, clothing size).

For inspiration, my style board is here.

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