Remember that top you saw while passing a high street store? It was the exact style you’d been reading about, your favourite colour, and it was on sale! What a steal.
Not long after the purchase though, the joy shifts to dismay when you prepare to show off your new purchase, but don’t have something to go with it. Suddenly that single buy requires another 3 purchases to make it work. By the time you’ve found the perfect items to finish the look, the glow of the original buy is starting to fade.
Sound familiar? It’s oh-so easy to be tempted by spontaneous ‘bargain’ purchases, especially when cheap, fast fashion means we can buy dozens of new pieces for the same price as one or two quality items.
But in reality, high street fashion costs so much more than just the price tag. Films like The True Cost and movements like Fashion Revolution have made clear the real damage that fast fashion is doing to people and the planet.
Even from a consumer perspective, fast fashion just doesn’t add up: low quality items don’t last and the speed with which trends change means trying to keep up can become an expensive hobby. Inspired by our founder Safia Minney’s latest book, Slow Fashion, and Fashion Revolution Week, we’ve been working hard to find more pleasure in our clothes and buy less and wear more. Here’s the top tips from what we’ve learnt.
1. Know what you’ve got
It sounds so simple but we’re all guilty of taking shortcuts, especially on an early morning. We so often reach for our tried and tested combos that sit at the front of our wardrobes that we forget about the items pushed to the back of our drawers or buried in storage.
By doing a fashion-fueled inventory, you can:
a) Get rid of the stuff hidden way back there for a reason and send it on to charity shops, or sell it on to someone else who can give it a new lease of life in their wardrobe – online auction sites are a great way to recoup some of the initial cost and put the proceeds towards something you really love.
b) Retrieve the loved but long forgotten items that you will now have made space for. We found this gave us a few clues of what we are really short on. Time to go shopping, with purpose.
2. Know what you’re looking for
With an updated mental list of what you already own, you’re all set to spot any item that’s missing. A beautiful occasion-wear skirt might catch your eye during a sale but if you don’t already own something that can be paired with it, it can cause more problems than it solves.
Purchasing a handful of new, inexpensive items that will have to sit in our wardrobe until we spend more money on something that matches just makes less sense than buying one beautiful Spring dress that will go with the cardigan you already own, take up a fraction of the space and look just as good in a year’s time.
3. Know why you’re buying it
There’s a reason your favourite pair of jeans are your favourite. They fit well, they go with everything in your wardrobe and, if they’re still in one piece, their quality has stood the test of time. If you could go back in time to the day you bought them with the knowledge of how many times you will go on to wear them, would you feel differently about the price you paid?
Cost is an important factor but getting value for your money depends on the quality, the pairing potential and the fit. Getting all those right means you’ll wear an item over and over again, bringing down the cost per wear. This often makes the ‘cheap’ garment you wore just a couple of times a lot more expensive in comparison.
4. When it comes to classic pieces embrace, don’t replace
So you’ve worn that favourite blouse to the office so many times, it deserves its own anniversary. Does that really mean you need to replace it with a new one if it still makes you feel great? Why not pair it with a new accessory to give it a new lease of life? Use a scarf to change the neckline and bring in a new season’s hot colour, or make your top the backdrop to a statement necklace, like our Chevron necklace from Bombolulu.
5. What’s the rush?
If you’ve taken the time to prioritise your clothing pieces into things you love to wear, think carefully whether any new things really should make the cut. Unless you have a wardrobe like Mary Poppins’ bag, you know how precious space can be: each item needs to earn its space in your life. Shop around until you find the perfect item to match you, not the other way around.
Taking a slow fashion approach to your own wardrobe will be a constant work in progress but in the long run it will make getting dressed easy like a Sunday morning (even on a Monday).