Buying new clothes can be exciting. It can also be a taunting experience, never mind stressful; especially with the big fat dent that’s left in your wallet. New season means new clothes right?
Over the years, I’ve learnt to shop smarter. I was just tired of having a cupboard full of clothes, and still faced with the common dilemma that is I have nothing to wear!
I think as you get older, you develop into your own style, so making smart clothing choices once you’ve had a chance to experiment a little, makes it easier, but none the less you can still shop smarter with these handy tips.
So let’s get into them shall we?
1. Identify Your Closet Situation
It’s important to know what pieces you already have in your wardrobe. I don’t mean just looking at what you have, I mean really, really looking at what you have!
Take a long, hard, cold and calculated stare at what’s hanging in your closet – even those items shoved right into the back.
Separate clothes that fit you with those you’ve out grown. It happens to the best of us, so don’t feel bad. The sooner you get this over and done with, the sooner you’re ready to start!
Try everything on and see if you still like an item or if it’s time to retire it.
I know, I’ve had pieces in my wardrobe which I held on for dear life, thinking, one day I’ll wear it. Two years down the line and it’s still hanging, same spot, just with new crease marks.
2. Know What You Want & More Importantly, What You Need
Now that your closet has been stripped down to the bare bones of what I actually do have to wear, you’ll have a much better understanding of what you need to add to your collection.
Do you have a classic white shirt? A pair of good quality trousers, jeans that fit you well? How about a nice versatile jacket? While there are a ton of “key items” every woman should own to build a great wardrobe, today I’m speaking to your style!
Does your closet represent your style?
Do you have wearable clothes for right now? Let’s say you had to go to a smart event tonight, are you style-prepared with the items you have in your closet? How about your shoes? Are they still wearable or has it been so long that your wore that loved pair of boots, that they are starting to look sad?
Once you’ve established this you’ll know what you want and as the headline says, what you need.
Now it’s time to start looking!
3. Do Your Research
Oftentimes, when you go into a shop, looking for something in particular you come out empty. Right? The best way to avoid this is to always know what you want, rather than trying finding an item in a rush.
If you’re always on the look out for what you want – and not expecting to get it right away – you have a better chance of finding that perfect piece. It is out there!
It took me months, actual months to find the perfect white shirt. I’m hardcore about sticking to my guns these days and I won’t part with my cash that easily. I want perfection, and I won’t settle for anything less.
Having thrown out and given away a ton of stuff that I bought on a whim was a big reality shock as to how much money I’ve wasted on pure and utter c-rap! I remember looking down at the pile of junk, thinking who the hell needs yellow shoes? – and feeling a little disappointed that I couldn’t stop myself from wanting them at the time.
Guess what! I never wore them. But I thought one day I will need them.
Get that thought out of your head! If you’re not going to wear something right now, the chances of you wearing it in a couple of months are very slim!
Which brings me to my point. Do your research. If you’ve identified that you need a specific item, look for it everywhere! Look online, look in shops and don’t be tempted to settle unless you are 100% in love.
I’ll even take a 70% love reading, but nothing lower than that, or it will just end up stuffed in your closet, never seeing the light of day.
Save photos of items you like to your camera roll, bookmark style websites and keep coming back to them to see if you still want an item.
If you’re unsure of an item, but you know you need it, try find inspiration on how to wear it online. There are tons of style bloggers from whom you can draw inspiration. Pinterest and Instagram are great sources of inspiration so use them well.
I love the new Save feature on Instagram (that little bookmark icon on your profile) which allows you to save other users’ photos for inspiration. You can even set up galleries, so you have quick and easy reference guide.
4. Don’t Be Tempted By Trends
Trends come and go. This is true and we’ve all probably experienced it to some extent. But just because something is trendy and in-style, it doesn’t mean that it’s your style!
The best part about fashion of today, is that it’s subjective. While certain trends will always stand out more than others, no one is going to look down on you if you’re wearing last years fashions! As long as you try to update your look to make it more current.
But most importantly keep your clothes, you. Wear your clothes rather than letting them wear you. I think you’d look far more stylish in an outfit that suits your style, rather than a stylish outfit that looks out of place.
When it comes to trendy pieces that you know you are only going to wear once or twice’ but you still want it, don’t go blowing your entire paycheck on that one item. Keep that cash for the classics which will become your investment pieces.
5. Work Out Your Cost Per Wear
This little formula really works, especially for those bigger purchases.
Its pretty simple CPW (Cost Per Wear)= Item Cost / (divided by) Number of Times You’ll Wear It.
Let’s say you live in jeans and your closet desperately needs a new pair. Instead of going for another cheap pair you know will last a month, look at more quality styles. Too expensive? Then use the CPW formula and see how much it would cost you (roughly) each day you wear them.
Pretty simple and effective, which brings me to my next tip…
6. Find The Best Quality You Can Afford
Sure we all want to wear head-to-toe designer – or at least, I do and I’ll admit it – my reality is that its not a reality at all. But that doesn’t stop me from buying the best quality that I can afford.
I’m not talking brand names here. I’m talking quality.
I always look at fabric composition labels to see if an item is good quality. If its made from natural fibers such as; cotton, wool, rayon/viscose or silk, I’m sold. If something is 100% pollyester or acrylic, with a not so pretty price tag, I often re-think the purchase. If I still love and need the item, I’ll buy it anyway – because I am human after all – and some of the polyester stuff isn’t bad, but as a rule, I like to stick to good quality raw materials.
For me, buying quality items means they’ll look newer for longer and quite honestly, very few people can pull of head-to-toe cheap items and still look stylish. I’m unfortunate not one of them.
7. Look Out For Special Offers and Sales
If you’ve got your eye on a specific item, and you’ve determined the cost but you’re not quite ready to take the plunge, keep an eye on it for a couple of weeks and see if it goes on sale.
In my May Wishlist, I mentioned that I wanted a gorgeous green military vest. It wasn’t expensive to start with, R799 – but I was in a rush when I looked at it, and wanted to make an informed decision before I splurged.
Now the retailer has a 25% off discount offer for Mother’s Day, so guess what! The vest is now less R199, and R599 is a great deal. I just better hurry on up and bag it before the 14th May when the offer ends.
8. Look After Your Clothes
Looking after your clothes is important. Especially when you see your clothes as investments, rather than plain old purchases. Read the wash care labels and follow them properly. If something says “Dry Clean Only” don’t stick it in the wash with your regular clothes, you will likely ruin it.
The internet is full of tips and tricks on how to look after your clothes. Jersey’s for instance require special care – and if you’ve spent over R1K on a beautiful jersey for winter, you want to look after it!
9. Be Patient
As I mentioned above, don’t wait until the last minute to determine that your closet is seriously lacking an important style staple.
Don’t be tempted to satisfy your urge with a quick substitute.
Cash is hard to come by these days, so make sure you spend it well. If you are not in love with something you’ve seen in store, don’t buy it straight away. Keep it on your radar, go back and look at it again with a fresh new mindset and then determine if it’s a winner or not.
Hopefully these 9 tips will help you make more informed shopping decisions. If you have any other tips to share, please comment below, I’d love to hear them.