Monday, 30 April 2012

Who feels like going shopping?


Ignore every magazine article that tells you to streamline your wardrobe and chuck out anything you haven't worn in the last year. They're just trying to get you to get rid of your shit so that you'll go out and buy more. It's a massive conspiracy. A capsule wardrobe is only useful if you have zero interest in fashion (fair enough) or are going on holiday. Your clothes are not out of date, they probably just need re-contextualising.

I learned this the hard way. I still regret things I let go. I know now that I was wrong.

My favourite pair of trousers lived in a screwed up ball at the back of my wardrobe for ten years. They were a charity shop gamble, a brocade mistake. Never did I think they'd be stylish, and I thought I'd wasted my £5 (at 17, when most things in charity shops were £2.50, this was upsetting). Now they come out every summer. They would make Lana del Rey weep. She'll never have a pair of trousers like these. They are super high-waisted in soft silk copper and black brocade, slim-cut and cropped at the ankle, and they look phenomenal with wedge sandals. They didn't stay up well at the waist, so I made belt-loops out of an old black dress lining (a new challenge; easy, it turns out. Just cut the length, then fold in to hide the edges and get your needle & thread out) and I wear them with skinny belts.

Every time my boyfriend suggests I throw some clothes out, I retrieve the trousers, hold them up and make this face:

He hates those fucking trousers now.

Store your stuff better. Keep frequently worn clothes in one place. Keep things you haven't worn in ages somewhere else, rolled up very tightly, to save space. (Mothballs and clothes bags are useful.) When you get bored of your clothes, rummage through these things. Treat your wardrobe as a treasure trove. Keep a good sewing kit to hand.

You don't have to be a pro to make changes and update things in small ways. Mend your clothes when they break. It's easy to raise or repair a hem (turn inside out, fold along a straight line, pin, try on to make sure it doesn't look wack, then sew it with a machine or needle & thread). New buttons are a doddle and take a few minutes. You can take an open necked shirt and add a new buttonhole at the top so it buttons all the way to the top (buttonholes don't need a fancy sewing machine; mark where you want the button, make a slit in the right place, check it's not too big/small, and make tiny looped stitches around the raw edges to secure it). Buy different collars to add to shirts, rather than buying a new shirt. You can remove or shorten sleeves, change belts, dye clothes in the washing machine, or sew parallel seams down the sides of skirts to change the fit slightly.

Cheap secondhand clothes are awesome for risking DIY on; spend yr money something oversized and just see what you can do with it (I made a prom dress out of a mumsy old C&A dress, and I lack the sewing skillz. I just put it on inside out, pinned a new outline around myself, and then used the pins as a guide to draw and sew new seams down the sides - a smaller waist, keeping the fullness of the skirt, and a lower-cut neckline). It's not too tricky, just set aside an afternoon to do it. If nothing else, the fabric might be useful for other things. If you find a good cheap basic that fits amazingly, note it and buy two or three; better to have a standby (or something to alter later) than rue the unhappy day when it wears out and you waste money fruitlessly trying to find a perfect replacement.

Ditch your things if you truly decide you hate them, or if they'll never ever fit you again and are totally unsalvageable, or if someone vomited on them at a party and the smell haunts you. Otherwise there's a good chance they'll save you money later on.

Every time you feel the need for something new, ask yourself if you could make it out of something you already have.

If you decide you really hate your old clothes and want new stuff, try swapping them at clothes swaps, either with friends or at proper events. I surrendered a Miu Miu shirt that I finally accepted wasn't meant for the likes of me, and got a free pair of plum and gold heels instead. Or sell them on eBay/car boot sales etc, and then use the proceeds to buy something new.

Don't buy things you know you'll throw out three months from now! PLEASE.

It's fuelling the fast-fashion industry at the expense of independent stores and it's encouraging magazines to keep selling us more tat, momentarily satisfying the mustbuysomethingNOW itch but not actually making us feel like the elegant, put-together mavens they promise we'll become. And it's a huge waste of money. Find shops you can trust, shop second-hand, sniff out bargains that you'll keep for years. Try things on before paying for them.

Also, car boot sales are king. You know those clothes you're offloading because they'll never work for you? Everyone else here is doing the same, and they're not putting a £50 tag on it and calling it 'vintage'.

And stop buying magazines that tell you you're not thin or cool enough or having good enough sex. They're A4-sized Mean Girls and it's ludicrous to pay £4.00 a month to hang out with them. Unless they come with a free gift - I love those free makeup bags they give away.


Lasca Sartoris said...

the last two sentences are everything!

Charponnaise said...

Thank you!