Day 365/366: the good. What I learnt this year whilst wearing my wardrobe

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Tweed pinafore by Tu – secondhand via Ebay

Despite the backsliding I described in yesterday’s post, I do think that this year’s exercise in looking at my clothes shopping habits has been helpful.

I went into town yesterday to have a look in the sales, but it was incredibly uninspiring; I looked through the rails and just went “meh” as nothing made me excited.  What I think I have evolved is a bit more of an original style than I had when I was thoughtlessly spending money on clothes and I just bought anything that fitted.

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Skirt is years old M+S, jumper is Oasis via a charity shop

Pretty much all of the clothes I have bought this year and have kept fit me really well.  Most of them have a slight retro feel to them, and I have definitely moved away from any bohemian, frilly, lacy or draped sort of styles.  My wardrobe seems to have refined itself into simple but strong structured garments; either nipped in waist swing dresses with cropped cardigans or straight or slightly A-line skirts with fitted jumpers.

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Secondhand tartan dress via Ebay, cardi from Lindy Bop

 

As a fat child and adult, I always veered towards clothes that draped, hid or disguised my body. This just made me look shapeless when actually I do have a shape, albeit a bit of a butternut squash rather than traditional hourglass shape.

What I have been learning this year during my wardrobe wearing experiment is what suits me.  I have moved out of hiding and into the light of Instagram and blogging.  I take photos of myself and I use them to give other women confidence that they can wear nice clothes too.  Life is too short not to wear pretty clothes, I don’t need to cover myself in shapeless baggy fabric. I don’t need to apologise for existing as I am.

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I do love this outfit.  Skirt is new this year from Primark, jumper is C+A from 2014

What I have also learnt is that charity shopping is thoroughly satisfying, enjoyable and productive, but internet shopping is my downfall.  It’s too easy to turn to the Facebook selling pages, the online vintage repro dress retailers and that old time and money pit, Ebay.  I turn to the internet in times of stress and look at pages and pages of clothes.  I don’t even like most of them, but feel like that old void that needs filling with stuff is still there.

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Second hand Monsoon pinafore dress

So my plan for 2017 is no internet shopping for clothes, shoes, jewellery or makeup.  If I want to buy something I have to get it from a shop.  I also have to buy it with real money, not with a credit/debit card – I have to see those notes cross the counter.  Much as I’d like to, I don’t think I can continue my shopping ban as it really hasn’t worked for the whole year. I do however think that stopping my internet shopping habit will be a helpful and more to the point an achievable goal this year.

Meanwhile, I will continue to wear the gorgeous clothes in my Wardrobe.  Bring on Wearing my Wardrobe in 2017.

 

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The Collectif Caterina – one of the only two dresses I bought in a shop this year. I love it, it has so much weight and swirl.
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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.

 

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 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…