QUESTIONS TO ASK WHEN BUYING NEW CLOTHES (BTWYL#3)
As I look towards having a better quality, minimal and more ethical wardrobe I have come up with some questions to ask myself for the occasions where I do find myself at a charity shop, vintage market or high street sale. If you love fashion, like me, these questions have really let me check myself and my intentions before buying an item. Not to be dramatic but you need this post right now. It’s a game-changer, if I do say so myself.
You’re walking into a clothes shop and stumble across an item within your price range - Here’s what you need to ask yourself between the clothes rack and the check out.
1) Does it fit?
Right now I’m having war flashbacks to the amount of clothes I have bought without trying on. You come home and try it on only for it to not fit, you rant in your group chat about it, you put it on again hoping that this time your boobs have magically downsized so you don’t look like a parachute, then you ignore it for the next 28 days and waste your time and precious money.
You keep the item thinking that you’ll ‘make it work’ only for you to never wear it again.
Please stop this. Commit to your shopping trip and go to the changing room.
2) Does it match my other clothes?
If you’re hoping to streamline your wardrobe, it’s super important that any new item you buy is in-keeping with what you already own. There’s no point buying a new item that doesn’t quite work with anything - you’ll just find yourself back at the shop buying new clothes. You’re trying to avoid that remember?
My exception to the rule - dresses. I have a couple of fantastic maxi dresses which are an outfit in themselves, meaning I don’t have to think so much about what they go with. If you’re trying to develop an easy but cool style, it may be worth looking for dresses or jumpsuits rather than multi-piece items. This has really worked for me in the Summer especially.
3) Will it last?
For the past couple of years I have done my best to learn more about materials and how well they last. You’d be surprised what you notice about quality when you get used to understanding the look and feel of materials. I went into a high street shop recently and most of the stuff on the racks was already fraying at the seams. Shopping for clothes that are terribly produced is always a negative. It means you’ll have to shop more often to replace damaged items, contributing to the unethical fast fashion industry, environmental damage, and the loss of a lot of coin in your bank account.
When I like an item, I usually check the inner label to see it’s material make-up. At the moment I’m trying to avoid polyester/viscose materials, in favour of more natural and less plastic-y ones. (At the moment, though, I do have a lots of items made from polyester blend materials that have lasted me years, due to taking good care of my clothes. However, I hope to be able to phase in some even better quality replacements when those pieces eventually break down).
Charity and vintage shops are very good for good quality clothing made from good materials, as older clothes were often better made. Once you start looking properly you’ll definitely see a lot of wool, cashmere and cotton pieces and you’ll also get used to knowing how they look and feel. This is partly why I am not shopping fast fashion this year; all of my best made pieces are thrifted! Give your bank account and the environment a break!
4) Is it easy to care for?
I’m about to call you out. Stop buying items that you wear once and then never again because they’re too much effort to wash. If you’re not the type to get down to hand-washing or paying for stuff to be dry-cleaned, don’t buy items that require that level of care. I’m a big fan of delicate items, but I know that I am the type who is also down to hand-wash.
Sequins? Feathers? Glitter? Leave those in 2019. There’s no point in having a complicated or unwearable wardrobe. This leads into my next point.
5) Am I dressing for my reality?
Stop buying clothes for hypothetical events. Yes, we all want to go to Met Gala, but sadly I don’t see our invitations coming in the post. (Anna Wintour, if you’re reading this, please let me come!)
I’ve bought so many clothes thinking up scenarios like, “When I go on my holiday to Bali in 3 years with a team of photographers I will wear this for the ‘gram,” when really I could have saved my money and bought a great quality winter coat for my suburban British reality. Sometimes I think about the stupid stuff my teenage self bought to MAYBE wear and I just have to lie on the floor. Don’t be like me.
6) Would I want it at its full price?
This is a tricky one, especially at charity shops. I have often come across items and been so shook at how cheap they were and thought that meant that I had to own them. Sometimes, for example, I find myself snatching up a £2 jumper from a high street shop that I never would have looked at twice if it had been full price in the original shop.
A bargain can be fantastic for things you need, but a bargain is not a bargain if it isn’t something you’d wear to death.
I hope this helps those of you out there that are trying to become more of a conscious spender, or are making some steps towards a slower, minimal or more sustainable wardrobe. If you’d like to know more about how to find and develop your personal style, make sure to check out my previous BTWYL post here.