In Guilt Is So Not A Good Look I described my shopping habits and described my three-point plan for ethical shopping. The last point was the most important: Buy as little as possible. I am an advocate of slow fashion. I believe that we should strive towards a sense of personal style rather than attempting to keep up with trends. Unless you are rich, it is impossible to keep up with the fast-moving fashion world. Most people cannot afford to buy something from every current trend – even in our era of low-priced fashion on the high street. For example, leather dresses are extremely fashionable right now, but I have yet to see many of them in any normal, low-priced stores. Some trends are so extravagant that anyone with an average salary or lower is completely excluded from wearing them, and there are so many different ideas within the themes of a season that even the hardcore fashionistas only choose a few to adopt.
Trying to maintain an individual style can be difficult and at times rather dull. Sometimes it is tempting to take the easy way out and pop to Primark and H&M for quick-fix new looks, but I think that greater enjoyment and satisfaction comes from taking the time to think about what you wear, what you own but don’t wear, and what new looks you can create from existing clothes.
I have several tips to share, all ideas that I use to keep myself dressing in interesting ways without having to go shopping every week.
Seek out classic icons who dress close to the way you do or aspire to, and look for normal people who dress in a similar style to you.
The chances are that if you admire them, you may already own some items that remind you of their style, or which can be adapted to new purposes. When looking at people who dress similarly to you, watch out for the little differences, their innovations within the style. It’s good to have aspirations which are closer to home and which fit in with what you are naturally drawn to already. You shouldn’t have to start from scratch in order to build your perfect wardrobe – basics may have already been accumulated without you paying much attention to the process.
Try to develop your own personal touches, your trademarks.
Small things are the best for this, I think. My grandmother loves earrings and has a massive, wonderfully eccentric collection. She has everything from crocodiles to strawberries, and from traffic lights to classic pearls. You could also have an burgeoning obsession with one particular image or group of images, for example, fruit.
Watch and re- fashion, and make your wardrobe follow you.
Don’t follow fashion and change your clothes every season. Watch the trends with a critical eye, gather inspiration, and remember that a lot of clothes can be altered, or worked into and through changing trends. Things actually come around a lot faster than you think. Every couple of years, bright colours are in again, then the next season, black will be back. This is true for this year – it was all about the brights this summer, but apparently black is fashionable again for the winter. Sometimes you can alter clothes to reflect the current cuts, and conversely, if you have clothes that fit a trend that has passed, you can try altering them to make them more classic. When the big skinny jeans revival began, there were almost none actually available in shops, so the people who started it all turned straight leg jeans inside out and sewed on the inside of the leg seams to make them tighter. Some people have been doing this for years – they adore skinnies and have made them part of their personal style.
Go quirky, classic, or pretty.
Most people don’t have much of a clue about fashion specifics, but will notice things that are quirky, classic, or really pretty. I have a pair of black formal sandals that always attract positive attention, which is hilarious because I got them to wear for my grandparents’ millennium party. Yes. Millennium. The year 2000. I was twelve, they were from Clarks and there is nothing weird about them, or attention-grabbing – but they are simple, classic and comfortable.
Don’t fall into habits.
Wearing one particular bag with one particular pair of shoes all the times, for example. It’s a slipperly slope from there down to wearing the same outfits over and over and never imagining anything different. It is good to have a backup outfit or two for when you’re hurried, uninspired or going incognito, but try not to rely on selections you’ve worn together before. Think outside the confines of the colour wheel – wear colours to highlight each other, not just to match. Vary the jewellery you wear everyday, I try to avoid putting on the same colour rings, bracelet and necklace but this is difficult, especially when it all gets tangled together. I advocate storing jewellery on a mug tree!
Do you have any related advice to share? Has any of the above worked for you? This is pretty much my personal style development plan, and I’d love to hear what yours is.