I’ve been following the conversations following the recent documentary, Stacey Dooley Investigates Fashion’s Dirty Secrets. I wanted time to reflect on what I thought about it all rather than just wade in. Now I have some thoughts of my own that I want to share.
This really stopped me in my tracks,
“One in 10 throw an outfit away after 3 photos wearing it”
I have to confess this is such an alien concept to me that I hadn’t even know it was a “thing”. I am horrified to think that as a personal stylist I would contribute to this awful waste but more importantly to driving the desire and eternal chase to keep up with the very latest because that will somehow make you happy. Here’s a clue, it won’t.
One of the key things I talk to clients about is how it’s not about buying a whole new wardrobe and filling it with all the latest trends. It’s about looking at what you have with new eyes and finding new ways to wear it. The shopping comes in to fill genuine gaps, items you don’t have that would make your other clothes work harder, a key trend (or 2) to update what you already have and the occasional just love it piece.
Chiming with this one of the most positive outcomes I have seen is the way “influencers’ have brought “re-styling” to the fore of what they are talking about. Showing different ways to wear things or alternatives that may already be in your wardrobe that would achieve the same effect. I think us personal stylists have a duty to take our own advice and show how we do this, social media posts about styling items really help towards this.
As with everything it’s all about balance and I am equally concerned about the way that some of the more knee jerk reactions have focussed on declaring shopping an evil pastime that must stop. Let’s not forget we are losing our high street, beloved established brands are diminishing or disappearing and if they are struggling, what hope for the independents? My thoughts on this are rather than embracing the alarmist stop shopping route, think about a more measured considered approach to shopping. Focus rather than on the fast fashion fix of buying 10 OK items (equivalent to that fast food hit that then leaves you with a crashing low) buying one thing you really love, that compliments items you already have, fits and suits you. You will wear and wear these things.
What can help with this is to try buying from actual shops, at least from time to time. Nothing beats seeing how something feels and hangs. Yes I know there is a long way to go in high street fitting rooms to beat your own home but what you very rarely experience online is service. That human connection and the experience of being valued customer receiving tailored advice and help can be a powerful one. Invariably I feel better about in store purchases because I have considered them more. It’s so easy to click “add to basket” often on things we aren’t sure about but think we will try out, often filling baskets to the brim to avoid paying delivery charges (guilty!).
One thing I advocate to clients when they are solo shopping is if they see something they like is to leave it and think about it and if you come back to it at least it 3 times only then purchase. Once things are saved into the virtual basket the act of taking it out of the basket is a lot harder. What about once those deliveries arrive? It feels like such an effort to return, and they are kind of OK or you love them but no idea where or how to wear them but keep them just in case. I’m not saying this doesn’t reflect what happens in shops and changing rooms, haven’t we all purchased something we later regret? I do think the effort it takes to actually go to the shops and lug that stuff into changing room in itself makes purchasing more considered. Plus returning is done for you. How much of the fashion that arrives on our doorsteps that should be returned doesn’t because of the effort involved.
I am not suggesting that there is no place for online shopping either, just again that there is balance. I know online is easy, convenient and often cheaper. I also know for some people it’s a necessity and can help with sizing and stock availability. I’m just saying that once in a while making the effort to go an interact with the items you want to buy rather than a midnight virtual trolley dash on a Thursday evening might be a way to make your shopping more mindful. Bringing it back to the stat at the top though, I think without online shopping this may never have become a thing or certainly the numbers would be lower if people had to squeeze in the time in lunch hours or after work to go and get the throwaway outfit for themselves.
Retaining your individuality and spending time getting an idea of what you like as a base is also helpful. That’s not to say you shouldn’t occasionally shake up your style, it can be liberating. But do so in the knowledge of what makes you tick rather than simply hastening after that latest item. Time and time again I see people in things where they could be wearing something far more flattering but it’s the latest instamust have everyone is wearing so they have gone for it. If they love it then good for them but I do wonder how many aren’t so sure but do it anyway. Remember you are not less if you decide that the latest must have is not for you. Curating your social media feed can really help with this. Look at what accounts you are following, ask yourself are they still bringing you joy, interesting images, information and opinions that align with your values? If not cull them and get some that are.
There is no easy, one size fits all solution (a bit like there isn’t for our wardrobes either). It’s about a more considered multi-layered and balanced approach. So follow the tips out there,
make more of your existing wardrobe,
make yourself look at something at least 3 times before you buy it to make sure you really want it (if it’s gone then it wasn’t meant to be),
don’t shop in a panic,
buy less but better quality,
engage a personal stylist to help you (sorry couldn’t resist the plug),
think about going into actual shops every now and then,
don’t be sucked into the latest instafamous item (unless you love it and it suits you)
After all who wants to be in a world where we all dress the same? Wouldn’t that be boring? (more…)