To buy or not to buy? How to Choose Clothes…

Maggie Cox

Choice nowadays is mind-boggling.  We’ve never had so many brands of this and that to decide on…and, as for fashion, well! So, to buy or not to buy? Here are a few tips on how to choose clothes…

There’s a surfeit of just about every garment you could desire. If you want a pink top (or whatever colour under the sun) they will be popping up everywhere.  Sleeved, sleeveless, ruffled, smooth, patterned, plain, stretchy, starchy, fitted, baggy. Except of course if you are looking for something totally specific for a very special occasion, and then it is never to be found.  But that’s a story for another time!

Gone are the days of Sunday Best (apologies to those of you may not know what this was) where we had one treasured garment for special occasions and had to be satisfied with one new thing every year.  Now, we have the manufacturers’ dream – overflowing consumer choice.

You may say ‘How wonderful! Bring it on – the more clothes the better.’  Or you may think it’s just too hard to keep up with all this newness.

But love it or lump it, oodles of choice is what we have!  So make the most of it. It was never like this in our mothers’ and grandmothers’ days.  

We can select, or resist and save money, by using this amazing array of fashion to our advantage.  Here’s how:

Make a List

Now I know this is sooo boring – unless you are a list person.  But it will pay dividends.  Before your shopping trip, or encounters with the website, write down exactly what sort of  garment fits your need.   Colour, style, material, maximum price, when you want to wear it. If you need to match a colour, have a sample of the same shade to hand.  Colour is rarely exactly how you remember it. Your brain can’t hold a specific colour, and the lighting in the shop, or on an online page, can make a huge different in tone and depth of colour. 

The list, of course, can be tucked away in your head.  You don’t necessarily have to have a hard copy!  This is also useful for when you have made a list, and then forget it.  Do we ever?!!

Never miss a Sale

We may have become a bit blasé about sales. They have become so every day.  But there are still many money saving bargains to be had. Keep an eye on  the early Spring/Summer collections – and if you see something you love, wait!! If it doesn’t appear in the sale, you’ve saved money, and if it does – you’ve saved money. I agree this takes nerve because you may have lost something but remember there’ll be plenty of other options around. See above!

Stop and think hard (sing happy birthday to yourself, quietly, several times) about anything you are going to buy

This is the very opposite of compulsive shopping. And can be very hard on the willpower. A compulsion can feel so right at the time – and so wrong when you get home.  If you are out and about, go and have a coffee or talk to a friend to delay the final decision.  Or if you are at home on your laptop, wait till the next day, or two, before ordering. If you have left something in the shopping cart some brands get in touch to prompt you to buy by offering you a discount of some sort.

Think: ‘Is this similar, or the same, as something I already have?’

We really are creatures of habit.  Have you ever bought something and then, when you check it out at home, it’s very similar, to what you already have?  We all have a tendency to go for what we’ve always loved.  And while this is inevitable to an extent, we need to have an open mind to keep our, slightly, older brains up to scratch and fashion savvy.

So, if you think you need something, have a really good look in your cupboards and drawers.  And likely as not you will find, shrinking like a violet between other clothes, just what you thought you needed to buy.  It’s so easy to get into a ‘style’ rut.

Think:  is this age appropriate?

Now, I don’t usually go here.  But it is, just about, a good thing to ask, since most of us actually think in our heads that we are only 16.  Or at most 36, or 46. nWe have to embrace the new fashion ideas, but not necessarily full on.  Cut-outs on the shoulders, maybe, but not multiple tears in the jeans.  Delicate splatterings of sequins, but not perhaps top-to-toe glitter. So you know what I mean. Keep just a modicum of decorum in mind.

But best of alI – if a dress or top makes you smile immediately – buy it

Usually, if you put on something new, and straightaway you smile, it’s a good guide to what suits you.  And it’s what clothes are all about.  If we enjoy wearing something, it gives us a lift.  I almost wrote a ‘life’ –  and that’s an even better way of putting it!  We all need a lift and a new spark of life from time to time. 

For all the reasons we shouldn’t buy, this is one big reason for patiently sorting through the huge choice, and coming up with a purchase that really makes us feel HAPPY.

More style articles by the irrepressible Maggie can be read here