4c natural hair Thursday, August 25, 2016
Yesterday we looked at the cons of being a shopaholic. If you did not see the post, you can view it here. The whole point of this post was to get you thinking about what it is you have in your closet that you do not wear nor need. As I mentioned yesterday, it is so important to start practising better shopping habits so as to prevent yourself from overspending. It can be a shocking situation when you finally assess your closet to see just how much you have wasted on items you wore once or twice in the last three years or items you never wore. It is not only a waste of money but it is also a waste of closet space. It makes it so difficult to clean when you have a massive load of unused clothes in your closet. It also makes it very difficult to quickly identify good clothes to wear everyday. As a result we find ourselves with a massive closet full of clothes and absolutely nothing to wear. The minute you have those words in your mouth, it means you need to rethink how you shop and your approach/strategy towards shopping. Many may say having a strategy for shopping should be left to people who are passionate about fashion or work in the fashion industry and the rest should not take it seriously, but I believe that whether you like fashion or not, are good at it or not, if you are spending money on clothes every year, you need to have a strategy in place.
So in this post I will be talking about my strategy for clearing out my closet and making sure that I only have what I need, use and love and most importantly what makes me feel good at all times.
Open your closet and select items you have not worn in the last two months/items you haven't worn at all/items you just keep for the sake of keeping/items that do not fit/those that do not make you look and feel good/ uncomfortable items.
To start this journey to a clutter-free life, that includes only items that make you look and feel attractive, have a place near your closet that you will start your pile of clothes that fit #1's title description.
I have had items that I just keep for the sake of keeping. Sometimes there is a sentimental value to the item. For example, I found that a lot of the things I bought on my first trip to Europe had a lot of sentimental value so even though I found that I had purchased most on impulse, I kept them because of that sentimental value. I also have gifts that I still have in my closet up to now because when I was growing up I was taught that it is so offensive to give away a gift. So at times, especially if you are very particular, you may find yourself with a stash of gifts in the back of your closet that have never seen the light of day since they were given to you. You know when you get a gift and you force a smile of absolute joy and happiness so you can please the person who gave it to you (reasons why my parents just give me money instead of gifts now lol)? I have done that a lot. I am learning to let all these things go. Why? Because it all becomes clutter. 20 years from now you cannot be still holding onto that necklace from your high school friend that you actually never wore. It just does not make sense.
It also does not make sense to keep items in your closet that no longer fit. If you are planning to lose weight and have a lot of now very small clothes, you may want to keep them if they still suit your style and if you will be serious about the weight loss. If you are planning to gain weight or are in the process of doing so, as you gain, you can take out some of the clothes you no longer fit and make space for those that will fit.
Also select items that do not make you feel good about yourself. Many of us have those over-sized gym clothes or pyjamas or house/cleaning clothes that are beyond unattractive. You know those items you are embarrassed to be seen in if you have an unexpected guest? Yes those should be on the 'out of the closet' pile. And not only the ones that you wear indoors but also the unattractive items you wear outside where everybody can see you. The items you wear grocery shopping or when you are having a bad day and could not be bothered. The stained track pants that have a hole where track pants should not have holes...Those items should also be put on the pile. If you have not bothered to sew the hole and have no plans to then why keep wearing it? Every item in your closet should make you feel like a goddess. You should feel attractive even in your grocery shopping clothes. You should still look attractive even on days when you could not be bothered to pick something good to wear. Your closet should be designed in such a way that it does not allow you to ever look terrible even on your worst days (I say this as if I did not just go jogging in the biggest, most unflattering sweater in the world)!
Also include in the pile uncomfortable shoes, skirts that ride up when you walk, trousers that are a bit too tight etc. If you have anything uncomfortable you should not have it in your closet. Add it to the pile!
So look through your closet and pull out all of these items and get ready for the next step.
Donate or sell the items you have selected.
So now the next step is to donate or sell the items you put in your pile. This obviously also depends on the state and condition of the items you have put out. Sometimes you have kept an item that is torn or can no longer be used for anything other than to clean the bathroom floor (I am Zimbabwean and we literally recycle everything!). Such items should not be sold or donated because it just would not be right to do so.
Select items in good condition that you can sell or donate. Your decision to sell or donate should be personal and I do not believe anyone should be judged for choosing to sell rather than to donate. I have always been very big on donating but when I needed to revamp my entire closet, it would have been more expensive for me to do so without selling my items. So in that situation I chose to sell.
If you decide to sell there are several platforms available for resale of items. If you are in South Africa, you can sell on Gumtree, OLX and Facebook, to name a few. There is also the Skip fashion swap for swapping clothes. Internationally there are also pages on Facebook to sell secondhand items. Other international sites include Depop, Tradesy, eBay and Asos. You just need to find a site that is suitable to your needs. I sold my items on Facebook as it was the easiest platform to use. I shall have a YouTube video soon explaining how I sold my items on Facebook.
So this part is all up to you.
If you have sold clothes, you may have a bit of money to buy things you want. So here is the formula.
Understand your personality and style.
This seems a little obvious but a lot of us do not actually understand what our styles are. I for one have always been honest about the fact that my style is something that I have struggled with for so long. Finding it has been so hard so I have been embracing the development of it. In order to find some inspiration for the style I like, I look through my closet and identify the items that I wear more often that make me feel good. I also look through Instagram and blogs a lot to seek inspiration for outfits. I have found a few bloggers that definitely have mastered the type of style I am going for.
You need to dig deeper for that one because it will be the heart and foundation of your closet and the main thing that will stop you from making impulse purchases for items that do not suit your style. Are you more of a modest dresser? Do you like bold colours? Are you fun and quirky with your style? Are you more keen on structure and neutrals? These are some questions you should be asking yourself.
So take a moment on Instagram, magazines and blogs and take note of the individual outfits you are most attracted to. You could even have a vision board for your style if you want. Once you begin to see a theme in your selection, you will be a little closer to understanding your style.
I am very much into neutral colours. I love quirky fashion. I am also aiming to look like I am on my way to fashion week everyday. I love unique pieces and those are the ones I am aiming to bring to my closet. I know I am still far from that goal but I am a lot more confident knowing that I have discovered it.
So here it is not about what your friends or family think should be your style or you should be wearing, it is about what you feel you should be wearing.
Understand your body type and what you believe suits it.
There is always a type of style of skirt, or dress or cut that will make you feel so beautiful and just compliment every inch of your body. For me, I think midi skirts and pants are my go-to pieces for absolutely everything. I love how they compliment me and how they compliment every body type. I am also pear-shaped so pencil skirts are also my favourite but when I am feeling a little bloated I run for the A-line skirt! My upper body is very small in comparison to my lower body so I mostly prefer to wear tighter tops and looser bottoms depending on the cut of items. I also like to layer or wear loose items when I want to achieve a more even look.
There are so many Instagrammers and bloggers for all body types and it makes it so much easier to have an idea of what items to look out for when you have such sources of inspiration.
So understand what works with you. It is so important as this further allows you to stop looking/ purchasing the items that don't.
Make a list.
Once you have figured out your style and what types of items you feel would work with your body, make a shopping list. This list does not need to be the list of items you are buying tomorrow but it can be a list of items you will purchase throughout the year whenever you go shopping. It gives you a focus. So whenever I see a sale, I look at my list to see if the item on sale is there. If it is not there, I take a bit of time to deliberate. One of the ways to easily discover whether it would be a good idea to put something on your list or to purchase it, is to envision yourself wearing it and how many wears you can get out of it. If it is a versatile piece that fits well with a lot of the items already in your closet or items you intend to purchase that are already on your list, you may proceed to buy it. If it is not, then rather step away from making that purchase. Also Google outfit ideas with the items, if you are not certain about them, so you can see how easily you could wear them.
I keep my list on my phone and update it constantly. I also keep an Excel spreadsheet with the same list but with estimated prices for the items and stores I can expect to find the items I need. Sometimes I find that I listed an item and as my style evolves and I discover more things about myself, I realise that it actually does not fit in with my closet, so I remove it from the list. Feel free to do the same. Constantly updating means that you are beginning to have a clear understanding of your style. It also gives you a lot of time to rethink your list and further avoid impulse buying.
To begin my list, I like to write down the essentials to my closet. These are the items in my closet that go with almost anything. I can get several wears from them. I am able to mix and match them for both formal and casual settings. I am also able to add trend pieces to bring a little more character to my essential pieces. The essentials are the foundation of my closet. These are items I see myself still needing years from now. Some of the essentials I have on my list are:
- A white button down shirt.
- A black long-line blazer.
-Black high-waist formal trousers (midi-length).
- A plain white t-shirt.
- Black courts.
-Black midi A-line skirt.
-Black midi pencil skirt.
- A black tote.
-Black polo neck.
You already know I am very keen on neutrals and black and white are my wardrobe staples. If you are into colour, you can tailor your list to that, as long as you are certain you will be able to wear these with a number of items you already have.
Once you have your list of essentials, you can also make a list of trend pieces. These are pieces that you are bound to not like in a few years but you just love and enjoy the trend. My biggest trend piece is the platform sneakers. I literally just need to have a pair like yesterday! Another trend piece is this red skirt I am wearing in the pictures.
The pricing strategies for the trend and essential pieces differs for your Excel spreadsheet and we will discuss more about that in the points below.
Have a budget.
So now that you have a list, the process of shopping begins. When you go shopping or plan to go shopping always have a budget and stick to it. Do not use your credit cards to buy clothes. Do not buy clothes on credit. I do not believe it is a good idea to ever have such credit. Rather stick to your budget and make cash payments. 'Live within your means' is a phrase I grew up hearing my Mum say all the time.Learning how to have a strict budget also prevents you from overspending and from impulse buying.
However, while you have a budget, remember you can expand it through the selling that we discussed earlier. There is a systematic way in which I do this. Once I have figured what items I would like to buy on my list, I sell the old in order to buy new ones. So at the moment, I already have a black tote but I do not love it as much anymore. Before I purchase the new one, I will sell the one I have. Before I purchase a new top, I will sell the ones I have and am not so fond of. It makes the process of bringing in new items simpler as well and less stressful because you are not doing an entire closet clearance at once. Which would be so expensive.
Sometimes I find that I will sell two or three lower quality bags that I have in my closet in order to buy one higher quality, probably more expensive bag. It all works to reducing the clutter and bringing in less items that will be used more.
Quality versus Quantity
I remember speaking to some fellow students a while back about this. They argued that it is better to buy several items for a lower price, in order to have variety than it is to buy one expensive but high quality item for the total price of all the lower priced ones. Now I understood the argument especially from a student's perspective but as I got more settled in my understanding of how much is wasted on buying lower priced, lower quality items, I realised that this is a mentality that many of us have shared before and this is a mentality that gets us stuck with nothing to wear or with 2 month old torn shoes that need to be replaced.
I used to be such a budget fanatic that I believed affordability was all about the price and nothing else. My Father always always tried to explain to me that I should rather purchase one thing for the total price of the five I had bought. I used to brush it off thinking he just did not understand fashion, but he was right! He was absolutely right. My Father is very smart when it comes to purchasing items. He doesn't need to buy a new pair of the same colour jeans every year because he has identified that jeans are a staple for his closet, so he purchases high quality jeans that last years!
So as you have a budget, rethink your approach to shopping. Are you attracted to the sale that gets you to pay a low price for a low quality product? Are you more keen on buying more items for the price of one? If you are, this is not a very good approach to shopping as it further contributes to the waste in your closet. Can you remember all the low quality shoes you have had to throw out because they got torn a month after purchasing? If every month you have to constantly replace a pair of shoes that costs, for example R30, it means at the end of the year you have spent a total of R360. So why not pay that R360 at once and forget about purchasing a new pair of shoes for the rest of the year? Calculate the cost per wear (Cost of item/estimated number of wears). For example, if that pair of shoes that cost R360 is estimated to be worn at least twice a week, that is 8 times in a month. In a year you would have worn the item: 8 (times a month) x 12 (months in year)= 96 wears a year. R360/96 wears = R3.75. It will only cost you R3.75 each time you wear those shoes. That is not too bad, considering that they will last longer. This is mathematics for fashion. I don't even know if my calculations are correct but you get the point and the formula LOL!
But do note that a lower priced item is not automatically of low quality. Sometimes you have really good stores and brands that stock high quality merchandise at affordable prices.
The general formula for knowing how much to spend on an item is to distinguish whether it is a trend piece or an essential piece. Trends come and go, so these you can spend less on. Essential pieces should stay in your closet for years, so investing in those is essential.
Remember that affordability is subjective. You should not take this section of the guide to mean that it is okay to purchase a t-shirt for R3000 when the highest quality you can afford is R300. Work within your budget. Only get the highest quality products that suit your budget.
But whatever the circumstance always remember to pick quality over quantity. It pays off in the long run.
Always be open to trying things on.
I have learned that, in order to build a good closet, one needs to be open-minded. Sometimes we see items on clothing racks and decide not to even look at them twice. Always just try things on. You may shock yourself when you realise how good the items look. You may also shock yourself when you realise that the items you liked do not suit you. So never cut corners with your shopping. I do that a lot though. I am giving advice I should be using for myself too.
Do not shy away from returning items.
I used to shy away from returning items. I do not know why. I felt the more I returned, the more suspicious it would be, like I would be like one of those women who wear things with the tags on with the intention of returning them after. If you spent money on it, you have every right, within the stipulated time for returns to return items. In these days of online shopping, it is okay to return items especially because sometimes they come and do not look the way they did in the picture or the fabric is not good, if you are like me, don't feel shy to do this. It saves you money at the end of the day.
Only purchase comfortable items.
It seems obvious but many of us have purchased something that was not comfortable. When shopping for a high quality, versatile closet you need to be certain that everything fits the way it should and everything is comfortable. Heels should be comfortable to walk in all day, not comfortable for only 30 minutes a day. I now mainly purchase block heels and this saves me so much!
Be open to exploring different stores.
Finally be open to shopping from different stores. I know when I was more of a 'quantity vs. quality' person, I avoided stores that I felt were too expensive. As my shopping strategy changed, I realised that some of the stores I avoided were actually not so bad. I am more open to experiencing new stores and shopping online and aiming to rebuild my closet but this time to build one that makes me feel proud and good about myself.
Remember a good closet is versatile, affordable, clutter-free, has no wastage and is designed to make you constantly look and feel good.
I will leave it here for now. Let me know if there is anything else I should expand on.