I admit it, I was actually going to skip this week because I was feeling tired and didn’t have a post lined up ready to go. However at ten to midnight I decided that a short one-picture post was better than no post at all.
In the past two weeks I have been on the prowl for a cheap plain black dress. I had some parameters of course – it had to be above the knee but not too high, have a high neckline, short sleeves, be figure-hugging and look good. I browsed some stores online (Sportsgirl, Supre, Cotton On) and visited a lot of them in person. Supre’s website looked most promising but when I went to the store I found while the items were cheap, so was the fabric. $15 for a nasty rayon/viscose dress? No thanks.
A couple of days ago I went into Myer with my mum and found this awesome black dress by Cue on sale for $60. It cost four times more, but the dress was at the very least five times better than the one in Supre. (More like 13 times better if you compared it to the original price.)
I do have a couple of super-cheap items in my wardrobe, but for the most part my wardrobe is thrifted, mid-range basics, sale items and super-expensive luxury stuff (that were probably also on sale). At this point in my life money is still an issue as a student, and I can’t afford the quality items I’d like at full price. Price is only one consideration, most of the time I try to shop by value:
- Price – can I afford it?
- Source – second hand, mass manufactured, independent label, handmade.
- Materials and Workmanship.
- Versatility – how many different looks can I get out of this?
- Durability – how long will the item last or how long will it be “fashionable”?
- Alternatives – can I get better value elsewhere?
When buying new items durability is probably one of the biggest factors for me. I hate the capitalist culture of disposability because it creates demand for more of our scant resources while simultaneously creating waste. I tend to go thrifted when I can, or save up for items that will last me a lifetime, not just a season. I believe this is the most sustainable way to shop.
CONNIE’S GUIDE TO SUSTAINABLE SHOPPING AND ACQUISITION
1. Browse often, buy occasionally
This applies mostly to thrift stores, but you can probably extend it shopping in general. I indulge in impulsive purchases very rarely – in most cases I let the decision ferment like a fine wine. 😉
It helps if you have a thrift store you pass regularly; because item turnover is so high it’s worth going back every week to see what’s new instore (if you do this weekly it should take only 5-10 minutes to scope out the new items). Finding the right item is a matter of luck, but you can increase your luck by going often. I buy something maybe 1 of 5 times I go thrifting.
2. Save your money
My USD$150 Skingraft skirt was one of the best things I’ve bought and it was worth every penny. Similarly my $100 Tony Bianco boots are going super strong (reheeled once). Even if you don’t have a particular thing you’re after it’s worth saving money for that day you come across the perfect whatever, at which point you can buy it and still eat for the rest of the month.
3. Take care of the things you own
Enough said, right?
4. Learn to DIY
Knowing how to sew is really useful if you find an item with a small hole, missing buttons, broken zipper or a weird fit either in a thrift store or on sale. I’ve altered a couple of new items that had a strange cut and I don’t regret using the scissors and thread.
On the flipside it’s also great for clothing that’s outlived its purpose. I’ve turned old pants into a pair of spats, t-shirts into skirts and Gibbous Fashions makes a living out of it.
5. Try on everything
So many times I’ve seen something on the rack and hated it only to have it look freggin awesome on. A lot of times something on the rack will look awesome and be a fashion disaster when I wear it.
If I’m looking for a specific thing I try on as many different styles as possible. If I’m just browsing I tend to try on the weirdest, most complex-looking thing on the rack, but that might just be the type of clothing I gravitate towards.
6. Know when to leave it
If something doesn’t fit (DIY opportunities aside), then leave it. Seriously. If it doesn’t fit you now there’s no guarantee it will ever fit you in the future. It’ll probably just sit at the back of your wardrobe making you feel sad because a) you can’t wear it and b) you wasted money on clothing you can’t wear.
7. Sharing is caring
Sell or donate clothing you don’t wear. Or better yet – have a clothing swap with some friends. Your old loved items will go to people who’ll appreciate it, and you’ll get some funky new items as well.
I will be attending an 80’s theme party next week so my upcoming post should be fun…