Day 364/366: the bad

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Anna Scholz dress from 2014 worn at The Curve Fashion Festival in September

My posts have been few and far between over the past few months.  2016 has been a horribly difficult year for me both personally and for the world in general which has not helped me to keep to my pledge.

I managed to keep to my promise to myself not to buy any new clothes until mid-August when I discovered Lindy Bop clothes whilst spending a lot of time at home because I was really unwell.  They had a massive sale going on and I just fell into buying huge quantities of their clothes.  I sent most of them back or sold them on, but have ended up with 17 Lindy Bop dresses out of the 40 I purchased (OMG this is sounding terrible).

Since then I have backslid further and purchased new clothes from other online vintage-style retailers such as Lady V and new retailer Joanie Clothing.   All of the clothes I have bought from these retailers have been beautiful, they have been chosen for how amazing they look and their lovely style.  Anything that even vaguely didn’t work on me has been sent back.

I have also bought clothes from Ebay which is something that I said I wouldn’t do and I think this is my biggest let down as I could easily have avoided this.  I did only buy two dresses from bricks and mortar shops though so I think I managed to get myself out of the habit of browsing the shops as a leisure activity.  I did however continue to visit charity shops and find some lovely things, especially wool jumpers and cardigans which I wear lots.

So I have come to the end of the year with more clothes than I started with, despite selling a significant number of dresses and other things online and giving more away to charity shops and friends.  This is disheartening as I started on my pledge with such hope that I could break myself out of the shopping habit.

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At last, an all old outfit.  Skirt Primark 2014, wool jumper Figleaves around 2008

However, I have learnt a few things about myself and my habits this year, and also my style has changed a bit.  I will talk about this more in my next blog.

 

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Day 263/366: Oniomania aka compulsive buying disorder

Falling off the clothes-buying-ban wagon in mid-August has led me to completely losing my self control.  Having discovered Lindy Bop and found that their lovely dresses were on sale it was like the brakes were off and I went careering downhill back into my clothes buying obsession. I would check the website every day for new sale stock and signed up for notifications when stock came back in.  I also joined two Lindy Bop selling pages on Facebook, and took my obsession to Ebay where I broke my Ebay clothes ban too.

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Lindy Bop navy floral Audrey.  She is so pretty!

This spectacular failure was compounded by going to The Curve Fashion Festival in Liverpool ten days ago.  This plus-size fashion show included stands from amazing plus size retailers including some I’ve not come across before like Emmy Designs and Studio 8 as well as finding that Praslin were selling all their sample dresses for £5.

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Yay – plus size bloggers represent!

It’s been an utter disaster for both my bank account and my mental health.  It would seem that I have an obsession.  There is even a medical term for it: Oniomania or compulsive buying disorder.

I love everything I have purchased.  The clothes are beautiful.  I want to wear them all, in fact I think this is part of it, I just want to Wear ALL the Nice Clothes.  It’s not even like I have anywhere to wear them to.

According to Shopaholics Anonymous, there are several different types of compulsive buyers.  I think I fit into at least three of these categories.

  • Compulsive shopaholics who shop when they are feeling emotional distress
  • Trophy shopaholics who are always shopping for the perfect item
  • Shopaholics who want the image of being a big spender and love flashy items
  • Bargain seekers who purchase items they don’t need because they are on sale
  • Bulimic shoppers who get caught in a vicious cycle of buying and returning
  • Collectors who don’t feel complete unless they have one item in each color or every piece of a set

I am definitely a trophy clothes shopper.  It’s always that the next dress will be perfect and will make me look amazing and everyone will love it.  But once it’s been worn once or twice, the excitement disappears and I’m looking for the next perfect dress.

I am also a sucker for a bargain.  Lady V London posted on Facebook today that all their sale dresses are now under £20.  I had one in my basket this afternoon despite the fact that last night I was nearly in tears about how full my wardrobe is.  But the dress was perfect and I must have it.

I saw someone wearing it at The Curve Fashion Festival and I thought it looked wonderful on her.  I want it.  I want to possess it.  I want to wear it because it will make me look beautiful.  I love the fabric.  And here I am, back to finding the Trophy dress.

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I mean, how gorgeous is this dress?  It needs to be in my wardrobe

I shut the browser and went away and didn’t buy it.  But it was beautiful.

And this is where we come to the third compulsive shopping habit I have.  I’m a bulimic shopper.  I buy clothes and then send them back, or sell them on.  In the last month I have purchased 23 dresses 7 tops and a skirt from Lindy Bop or off Ebay.  Add to that 2 Praslin dresses, an Emmy dress (at huge expense), a Studio 8 dress (also at huge expense) and one from TKMaxx which to be fair is the only dress purchase I have made in an actual shop this year.  Not that it’s much consolation.

Emmy Designs make gorgeous reproduction vintage dresses handmade in Sweden and I wanted them all, I seriously, seriously wanted to buy four or five dresses. I really, nearly bought more than one, but the cost made me think “I could get 10 Lindy Bop dresses for the price of this” as if quantity outweighed quality.  My mind is seriously screwed up if that’s the way I’m thinking.

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The utterly gorgeous Emmy dress I didn’t buy (and have non-buyers remorse oh so badly)

Of the Lindy Bop clothes, I have returned 11 and kept 12 dresses, returned 4 tops and kept 3 and returned the skirt.  Looking at this list makes me feel incredibly ashamed of myself. WHY do I feel the need to keep buying and buying.  Why am I not happy with the lovely clothes that I have got.  What on earth is my problem?

 

Above you can see just some of the clothes I bought from Lindy Bop. They are all pretty. I don’t want to part with any of them.

All the good work I have done since January has been undone in one month of completely uncontrolled binge-buying.  When I dieted, I used to be like this, good for weeks and weeks and then all of a sudden would completely lose control.  It’s the reason I stopped dieting because it made me so very unhappy.

How do I start again and get back on an even keel?  How can I train my brain to stop wanting all the pretties because I already have a lot of pretties.  Where does this void that needs to be filled with pretty dresses come from?  I think I need help….

Day 231/366 : Falling off the wagon

Well, it happened.  I totally fell off the new clothes buying ban wagon big-style and went mad in the Lindy Bop sale.

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This is the Twiggy shift dress. I absolutely love it.

I knew if a failure of willpower was going to happen in my year of no spending that it would be big, but perhaps not as big as it actually was. I bought six dresses, three cardigans and a top that I’m keeping and I’m sending back five dresses, 2 shrugs and a jacket because of fit issues.

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This is the Ariel, it’s got such an amazing shape

Up until now I’ve been SO good for the whole of this year about not browsing in shops that it’s become second nature not to head into the clothes section of supermarkets or just going into town on a Saturday afternoon for a mooch around to see what’s on the rails.

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The pattern of this fabric is so beautiful

I’ve been quite unwell since the start of August and have spent nearly three weeks at home off work, mostly in bed. Frustration and boredom has led to a spending spree starting with buying perfume, shoes and boots online along with various dresses from Facebook selling pages. I can’t stop and have gone well over what I should have spent.

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This is a lovely dress, really nice thick stretchy cotton

So this spree has ended (I hope) with me raiding the Lindy Bop sale.  I feel hugely disappointed with myself, but I also feel that I have picked up some really lovely dresses at bargain prices as the sales at Lindy Bop are known for large discounts – all my dresses were between £12 and £15 and the cardigans were £10 or less.

So there you go, I lasted 226 days of the 366 of 2016, pretty much 2/3 of the year which isn’t all that bad.  I’m not going to go back to buying new things though, although I’m giving myself a free pass for the Curve Fashion Festival in Liverpool on 10th September.

I’m hoping that once I feel better and I’m back at work and not frustrated and ill at home that I will be in a better place for both my head and for my wallet.  Keep your fingers crossed for me that I can scramble back onto the wagon and ride it until the end of the year.

Day 212: I really don’t know what happened there

OK, so I haven’t blogged since April, but this doesn’t mean that I’ve given up.  I have kept to the letter of my promise not to buy any new clothes this year from shops or Ebay, but perhaps not really to the spirit of it.  I’ll explain.

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Lady V London dress via Facebook selling community called Horne’s Curvaceous Hunnies

In April I discovered selling communities on Facebook and these have really been a bit of a downfall as I have bought a quite a lot of clothes from several different sites over the past three months.  What is really good about them (and also really bad for my willpower) is that it’s mostly people selling lovely dresses in plus sizes.  There is such temptation!   I have also continued to buy clothes from charity shops as I do enjoy the thrill of the chase.

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Dress from Evans via a Facebook page called Plus Size Night Market

 

The problem is that probably half of the things I’ve bought from the selling communities don’t fit, or don’t suit me.  And as they are usually a bit more expensive than buying from charity shops (where at least I can try on the clothes).  This has meant that I now find myself with a number of dresses which I can’t wear.  So I’m now trying to sell some of these on but not having too much success.

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“Tess dress” from Yours via Betty Pamper’s Instagram selling page

I have also decided to sell or give away many of the clothes that I don’t feel comfortable wearing, but have kept because I like the idea of them or that they were expensive.  There is one dress in particular that I wore to a really, really horrible meeting, and then later on, on the same day, I got stuck in a lift in it.  It brings me no pleasure to look at or wear the dress despite the fact it’s really lovely.  So that’s on my for sale list now with a sense of relief. It’s unnerving how much an inanimate object can project so many bad feelings.

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Dress from Tu via aforementioned selling page.  I altered this a lot to get it to fit, but I think it was worth it as it’s such a fabulous pattern. 

So, yes I am still wearing my wardrobe, but it is a wardrobe supplemented by clothes from charity shops and selling communities.  Maybe I should have just said I wouldn’t buy any clothes full stop this year.

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Another dress from Tu – I love this and have worn it to work a number of times.  Best of all it has pockets.

I’ll do a rundown of all the amazing things I’ve got from charity shops in another post and also update on how I’m getting on wearing my unworn and unloved clothes – a sneak peek below of something I bought last year and didn’t wear. I have now worn this gorgeous dress several times already this year.

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Joe Browns dress via Depop last year – worn today for an outing to an exhibition of pottery art.

Day 101/366: the first one hundred days

I thought I would look back on the first one hundred days of Wearing My Wardrobe in 2016. Outfit pictures are from Instagram over the past month or so.

  • I have NOT bought any new clothes so far in 2016.  I would class this as a major achievement for me as I never thought I would make it this far.

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  • I have not bought new clothes despite having been to Preston, Manchester and London for work.  Usually I would have made time to check out the shops, but this year I haven’t done this.  It make the visits less eagerly anticipated though which is a bit of a shame.

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  • I have also not bought anything on the internet despite having had a pretty stressful year so far. Internet shopping has been a real bad habit for me in the past during times of stress so I’m pretty pleased about this. Unsubscribing from all the clothing companies’ emails and their feeds on Instagram and Facebook has been a huge help
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I found this AXParis Curve dress in a charity shop in Penrith.  I think it’s the best thing I’ve bought this year, I really like it.
  • I’ve not bought any new boots or shoes.  This wasn’t an aim for the year, but I’m happy with what I’ve got, and not shopping for clothes means that I haven’t been exposed to new  shoes either.

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  • I have not gone overdrawn yet this year because I’ve spent too much money on clothes which was happening with more regularity over the past couple of years

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  • I’ve not worn the same outfit twice (except for scruffy clothes for working at the allotment or housecleaning, but they don’t count!)

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  • I have been motivated to sell clothes on Ebay and have so far sold 24 items of clothing and some unused perfumes.
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This skirt is an ancient Monsoon sale purchase. Having to find new outfits in one’s wardrobe really makes you look through everything you own quite carefully and there are some real gems in mine.
  • I have found out that I don’t actually like some of my clothes very much and these have either been Ebayed, given to friends or donated to charity shops.  It seems that being critical of one’s wardrobe is actually quite cathartic

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  • I have altered quite a lot of my clothes to make them fit better
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I altered this skirt to make it more of a wiggle style (altered on right), I think it looks significantly better now!
  • I have discovered the joy of hunting for interesting clothes and jewellery in charity shops and have started doing a bit of charity shop tourism when I visit other towns.  The thrill of charity shops is that you never know what you’ll find and there’s something new every week.  I have to admit that I may have to stop visiting the shops quite so often as I almost always come away with something to wear.
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I absolutely LOVE this jumper – it’s by Oasis and I would never normally even bother looking in Oasis as the clothes are usually small, but it caught my eye in a charity shop and I think it looks great!
  • I’m looking forward to going through all my summer clothes and wearing my favourites (and also passing on those that I’m not so keen on)

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  • I really don’t like the KonMari method (sorry Cassie and Leah!!)

 

Day 74/366: charity shopping is fun

So, my resolution not to buy clothes this year was not buying clothes anywhere apart from in charity shops. This means I have now become an avid charity shopper, popping into the shops in Kendal most weeks and whenever I visit a different town, I look out for the charity shops. This website http://www.charityretail.org.uk/find-a-charity-shop/ is a wonderful tool for finding charity shops and I discovered three new ones in Penrith that I hadn’t come across before as they are in a back street.

These are two of my first three buys this year a Laura Ashley shrug and a purple sweater from M+S.  The third is a 100% cashmere jumper which is not at all smart but very warm so is great for slobbing out at home.  All of these three came from the Salvation Army shop in Kendal.

 Kendal has an Oxfam, British Heart Foundation, Scope, Salvation Army, Barnardos, a tiny Age Concern, RSPCA shop and a tiny Age Concern.  I have had the most success in Oxfam, Scope and Salvation Army and have yet to ever buy clothing in Barnardos as the choice there is truly awful (although they do have a good range of books and DVDs).

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Per Una brown cord coat

This coat is fab. It’s a little small for me, but as I’m wanting to wear it in the spring, I won’t necessarily need to do it up and it fits well everywhere else.  I altered the button position and also took the top button off and sewed up the button hole as it just wouldn’t fit across my bust. Also took up the sleeves, but I have to do this on every single coat I ever buy.

So far, Penrith has afforded the most spoils at the lowest prices, the charity shops in Kendal do seem to be more expensive – they are happy to charge £10 for a dress which I do think is a bit over the top to be honest.  I went to a number of charity shops in Islington when I was in London a couple of weeks ago and was horrified at the prices, and even more horrified that the largest item of clothing was a size 16 (and that there was only one of them).  Obviously charity shopping is not for the poor or fat in the capital.

Some of my Penrith charity shop finds

 

I paid too much for these too dresses (£10  for the Monsoon dress and £8 for the Tu dress), although I do like them both

This cardigan isn’t necessarily my style, but it’s lambswool and has the most amazing decorative cuffs!

One of the things I have made sure I do is actually wear the clothes I purchase from the charity shops as I have in the past been known to buy items and then not wear them, so I have really been trying hard to get them all worn.

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Brand New AXParis Curve dress – I love this the most of everything I’ve bought so far

One of the things I love the most about charity shop shopping is the thrill of the chase, will I find something amazing that someone else has discarded that I can take and make my own, and love and give a new lease of life to.  I really have had some successes this year, and I’m hugely enjoying the challenge as it’s making shopping exciting for me, and it also means that I’m not buying new, I’m helping to reuse clothes that are still very wearable, and that I’m donating to charity at the same time.  There is nothing not to like about this!

So my top tips for charity shopping are:

  • Try on things that aren’t in your size.  My finds above include a size 14 dress and a size 20 dress, both of which fit really well
  • Look for good quality fabrics – I’ve had real luck finding woolly jumpers and cardigans.  I rarely buy acrylic/polyester jumpers though unless they look brand new as they are generally bobbly
  • Be prepared to take things up or take them in.  I will need to take in the Monsoon dress as it’s a bit too big on me, but should be able to do this with no problem
  • There are almost always fantastic coats available
  • Dresses are hit and miss, you really have to look carefully to find anything nice and often there isn’t anything appealing
  • Go into your local charity shops every week or so as new things come in all the time
  • I’ve had no luck finding shoes, but I do hear of people who have scored pretty much brand new pairs for not much money
  • Take stuff to donate to charity shops if you’re not wearing it

 

 

Day 33/366: clothing catharsis

I went through my wardrobe this weekend and pulled out some clothes to sell on Ebay, and a lot more to take to a charity shop.  Things I haven’t worn for YEARS like some bright pink linen baggy combat-style trousers and some nasty cropped cargo-pants.  Ugh.  What was I thinking?

There is also a pile of 10 bras to go to the Smalls for All charity.

If you’re interestes in looking at the Ebay listing, it can be found here and I’ve posted pics of a few of the dresses etc below.

 

Day 32/366: more choice doesn’t make me happy

In his TED talk The Paradox of Choice Barry Schwartz talks about how the the conventional wisdom of capitalism that the more options we have, the happier we’ll be, is almost entirely wrong. More often than not, the proliferation of choices leads to people being less satisfied, and we regret our decisions more. Fewer options means we are happier because it’s less likely we could have done better.

I can’t be the only person who has agonised for hours over a purchase to make sure I get the best deal for my money, especially online.  For example, my hair straighteners are broken.  No means of getting them fixed in our throwaway society so I would now like a new set.  Looking at the options, there are hundreds of different makes and models, everything from the most basic set in Argos for under a tenner to a set of GHD “limited edition” straighteners for £300.  On Amazon there are 1598 different sets of straighteners for sale; how on earth do I chose which is best for me?  Are the GHD set really 30 times better than the £9.99 Argos set? A cost benefit analysis of the straighteners on Amazon is like a giant quadratic equation and it makes my brain hurt.

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Pretty aren’t they, but are they really worth £300?

So it would appear that I am doomed to be dissatisfied with my choice of straighteners because the equation is impossible to solve and therefore I don’t know whether I will be buying the best straighteners at the best price.  This then takes the shine off the purchase.  Will I see a better pair and have buyers remorse that I didn’t get them instead?  That is of course if I ever get round to buying them because I am currently paralysed by indecision!

I think this constant feeling that we could have got something better or cheaper when it comes to purchasing stuff is beginning to wear on people.  There is perhaps starting to be an acknowledgement that there is too much stuff in (some, certainly not all) peoples’ lives and instead of more stuff bringing pleasure, it brings anxiety and dissatisfaction and doesn’t satisfy the cravings that we are trying to fulfill by aquisition.  It’s an addiction, this desire to buy more because we are never satisfied with what we’ve got, and we are looking for the next thing to buy even before what we bought on the internet arrives in the post (I’m oh so guilty of this).

So I need an attitude adjustment. I need to change my current mindset which is that having more clothes/makeup/boots/perfume/gadgets/art/trinkets will make me happier.  I need to believe this deep down emotionally as well as rationally as my purchasing behaviour is definitely not rational despite the fact I constantly justify it to myself on the basis of need.

I need to concentrate on the things that make me happiest for the longest time.  These are things like swimming outdoors, playing the ukulele, festivals, meeting up with friends to play cards, France in the campervan, collecting pretty stones, watching birds, going to the beach, cycling and reading books. Looking at this list, it is doing things rather than having things that makes me happiest and I need to concentrate on facilitating happiness or at least contentment in my life rather than chasing after more stuff.

These are a few of my favourite experiences.  I don’t need to buy any more stuff to do them.

 

Day 21/366: My willpower is severely tested

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Today I faced my first real test of willpower. I had an hour and a half in Preston whilst waiting for a train. The station is right next to a shopping centre with shops that I don’t often get to.

Usually I would spend time in Primark, Debenhams and Evans rifling through the sale racks looking for bargains (especially at this time of year in the tail end of the sales when bargains are at their most bargainacious!) However, I resisted, and didn’t even go into Debenhams and Evans.

I did go into Lush and got some shampoo and conditioner and some soap, but these are needed as I’m running out. I treated myself to a lip balm too which felt naughty.

I let the side down though and bought a matt lipstick from Sleek, so feel a bit guilty about this as I wasn’t going to buy makeup this year either. I just can’t help myself, my compulsions are strong and I have less invested in not buying makeup than clothes.

So there you go, mostly a win with a  tiny bit of lose…