Who doesn’t love shopping for clothes? You go out with a full(ish) wallet, but empty hands. And come home with an empty wallet and wonderfully full hands. That’s right no pizza money left for the month, but plenty of pretty new shoes, and tops, and bottoms, and jewellery, and even more shoes. Of course it’s all fun and games until your bank manager contacts you and utters those horrible words designed to bring you back to Earth with a coccyx shattering bump.
“Miss Harper, I’m very disappointed to see that you find yourself overdrawn.”
Okay, admittedly that phrase was only used once with me, and it was 12 years ago, a time when very occasionally in the smaller bank branches the manager deigned to endure contact with the merely mortal. But the point remains. A day of clothes shopping can very quickly go out of control when you see that “must have” item, even though your bank balance only stretches to very gently allowing your shadow to briefly play with its shadow. And even then only if no-one catches you.
But do you know what? There is light at the end of the tunnel. Over the next three weeks, starting today we are going to outfit ourselves with some basic skills which allow shopping to still be fun, and a whole lot thriftier.
Next week we will cover High Street Shopping.
The following Thrift Store/Car Boot Sale Shopping.
But this week, we will cover 5 points which are universal to all forms of clothes shopping. Enjoy.
So, what dress/chest measurement are you? What’s your waist measurement? How long are your legs? Oh I know, what’s your real bust size? A lot of you, perhaps even most of you know the answers to those right off the top of your head. But many of you won’t. many of you will hum, haw, and then eventually pop out a vague guess based on your measurements back when you were 17. Not good enough Madam, not good enough Sir.
Your actual physical measurements are your first line of defence against unfortunate, and possibly expensive accidental purchases. Because, let’s face it, if it doesn’t fit, you probably won’t wear it, and if you do you may well look ridiculous in it.
Knowing your size is not a guarantee of a proper fit, but it massively increases the likelihood of an outfit you’ll treasure, rather than one you’ll wear once, and never wear again.
How does this save money? You won’t waste time, or money having to return the damn thing.
2: What do you want? Really should be only what you need:
Let’s be honest here. We all want lots of things that we don’t really need. But the vast majority of those wants are things we would use once, and then promptly forget we have. Humans are like that, magpies, always looking for the next pretty shiny thing.
So the first thing to do when considering a piece of clothing is to put it on a list. That list is broken down in to “Need”, “Useful Want”,” Greed”.
“Need” is obviously essentials things like undies, bra’s that fit, comfortable jeans for day-today wearing, a few good “mix and match” outfits for going out.
“Useful Want” are those things which catch our magpie eyes, but which are genuinely useful. Like that delicious skirt suit, that would be perfect for interviews, or picking up pretty girls in the bar, (note to self don’t spill anything sticky on it.) They nay be expensive but they are the things which repay the investment over time. My own personal example are high quality gothboots.
“Greed” items are just plain luxuries. You don’t need them, they probably won’t be very useful, but by the Goddesses you sure as hell want them. They’re almost always expensive, usually rather non-functional, but they can be good for the soul. My ankle length black leather evening gown is one of these. Hardly the thing to wear shopping, or walking the dog, but when worn makes me feel like the living breathing avatar of some random Goddess.
The point here is not that you don’t have luxuries, useful or not. Simply that usefulness should usually take priority. Moderation is the key here.
3: Dead Man’s fabulous shoes:
New shoes are a joy, but you already have a wardrobe floor filled with them, the overflow from the wardrobe is of course stored underneath your bed, and the overflow from there under the stairs. How many of them have you worn more than once? How many have you not worn at all?
I was like that, though admittedly not nearly that bad. Then I decided on the Dead Man’s Shoes rule. To allow myself a new pair of shoes I had to go through those I already owned, make sure I didn’t already have essentially the same shoes, and if not then choose a pair to kill. Thus making space in my life for the new pair.
After all shoes are like the immortals in Highlander. In the end there can be only one, pair on your feet at a time. And too many lead to comparisons to the wives of certain Cold War era dictators.
I would also point out that this rule can be applied to anything you own, but work particularly well with larger items which you have fewer of, like dresses.
4: Mix and Match:
I mentioned this earlier in passing. But mix and match is a really great way to avoid wasting money. You’re in town one day, and see the most divine black silk blouse. But you really need a black skirt to match it, and the right riding crop (Only me on the last part huh? Alright.). Damn it that blouse is getting sort of expensive to own isn’t it?
So how many black skirts do you own? And do you have one which will look right with that blouse? Oh you do, mix and match for the win! Oh sorry I misheard, you don’t…hmmmmm I wonder would somewhere else, somewhere that isn’t so expensive that the staff are trained to see through their nostrils have something that would work?
The simple fact is that once you have an established wardrobe it becomes instantly much, much cheaper to build a new outfit. All you need is one new item, match it to some older items, a good make up theme and bish, bash, bosh new outfit.
If you have nothing that works, there are plenty of budgetish shops out there which make their money from providing a cheaper alternative, which will still usually look damned good.
For the girl, guy, or miscellaneous on a budget, mix and match is one of your best friends when it comes to stretching your money.
5: The Kava Principal:
This is my number one shopping tool for deciding if something is really worth the price. If this item were side by side with a delicious bottle of lovely, sparkling Rosé, all glistening, and carbonated, and beguiling in it’s alcholicy yumness, would I buy it?
If I would skip the clothes for the wine, then I obviously didn’t really want them as badly as I thought I did. On the other hand if I find that the wine has no draw for me, then I should probably buy that lovely kindergoth dress, go home, redo my make-up, go out and start looking for someone to bend over my knee, who should then call me “Mommy Amanda” while I spank her silly.
The Kava Principal could just as easily be renamed the chicken Wing Principal, or the Pizza Principal. And sometimes should be. The trick to using it is to tailor it to the value of the item you want to buy. Kava is about 20 quid a bottle so is ideal for items between 15 and 20 Euro in value.
On the other hand a Terry Pratchett novel in paperback form is about 8 Euro, So we would apply the Pratchett Principal to items priced between 5 and 10 Euro.
And it’s as simple as that.
Next week we’ll cover some of the tricks which I’ve tailored over the years to shopping on the High Street.