What’s important when you buy clothes? Is it a well thought out purchase or an impulse buy? Do you love it or will it just ‘do’? I hope this will show you how to make the best decisions when buying your clothes.

When choosing what to buy, we all make lots of both concious and sub-concious decisions. Here are some you should be thinking about:

  1. does the style suit you..
  2. are the details…
  3. does the colour…
  4. is the fabric…

Does the style suit you?

You see something, in a shop or in a magazine and you really like the look of it. You try it on. Now think through this quick check list. Does it make you look wonderful, is it really too old or too young for you and most importantly, is it suitable for your lifestyle? If you don’t trust your own judgement then take a friend. Let me give you a glimpse into my world. My dream is for long pale blond suede boots, with white jeans and a brown belt…you know where I’m going. I live in the country, opposite a farm, with 3 dogs, cats and a horse. The chances of me even making it as far as the car with any hope of staying clean are somewhere near nil. Beautiful image, disastrous practicality. Change your ideas to fit your current lifestyle or move to the south of France!

Are the details…

Are the details in your scale, are they interesting but not fussy, or are they understated and  clean or over the top and fussy? How often do you really look at what you’re buying? The details on a garment are what sets it apart from something else. If you are petite then a large pattern and big buttons may overpower your frame. If you are a larger build, then little flowers and pearl buttons may get lost.

Is the look you’re wanting to achieve sleek and elegant or are you looking for a multi layered effect? Both images are simple to pull together as long as you’ve bought thoughtfully and consistently. Understated doesn’t easily become ‘over the top’ and it’s difficult to pare down an eccentric outfit. Be consistent in your choices and it’ll be a lot easier.

Does the colour…

When you wear this colour does it make you come alive, or does it make you look ill? Does the colour fit your personality? If you feel really comfortable in pale pastel colours, then a bright orange jacket may wear you rather than the other way around. The colours that you already have in your wardrobe will be a big influence on any future purchases. A functioning wardrobe has many items that can be worn together, colours and styles that work in harmony. A new addition needs to work with what exists already to be the best value. Read another of my journal posts, Colour: A quick guide to making colour work in your wardrobe.

Is the fabric…

Is the fabric interesting, is it wearable, washable, practical or frivolous? Most importantly, do you love it or are you compromising? There are fabrics for everything, in many colours and at many prices. Look at your lifestyle. Can you afford the time and money that dry cleaning a silk shirt will incur. However, a special silk dress that you wear for weddings and other occasions will not need cleaning as often, so makes more sense. There are many many options out there, so take the time to buy the right one for you.

The Art of Shopping

So you go off to town (or off to the computer) with a plan. However, like the supermarkets, retailers have all sorts of tricks up their sleeves to encourage the impulse buy. The most obvious (and therefore the most manipulated) device that you have to face is the ‘hanger appeal’, or now more frequently, the ‘web site’ appeal. Ever wondered why they put certain pieces in the shop window, quite literally, or on the cover of a magazine, or in the fashion section of a newspaper? The answer is that it works on many visual levels, and let’s just not go to whether they’ve been paid to do so! It will look good static, in a photo, on a model, on a hanger, in newsprint…you get the picture..but beyond all of that, the style, the details, the colour and the fabric all work together. But will it work on you?

Making it work for you

The carefully crafted image, whether authentic, photo-shopped or pinned and tweaked, is there to draw your attention, to encourage the impulse purchase.  How many items have you bought for these sort of reasons? You are not alone, it works for retailers so they will keep doing it. It’s not all bad, how else would you be exposed to new ideas and trends if you only look for replicas of things you already have.

Time for your carefully thought out plan. Look beyond the obvious, and find your must have piece, something that is really you and something that makes you happy.  Look at your check list, style, details, colour and fabric and act accordingly. No more just settling for mediocrity!