Plan Your Approach
Do you simply want to update the pieces you have with better quality items or change your whole look? Do you want to start from scratch or just add new items to revalise current items? It's very important to get this right because you can end up wasting time and money if you're not clear.
For example in 2014, my approach is to replace all the clothes that I wore when I was a size 16/18 with items from new designers whose clothes I can now fit. My strategy is to concentrate on quality key items (cashmere, jeans, coats, shoes etc) and add in some less expensive trendy accessories for fun. My overall goal is a small, well-edited wardrobe full of pieces I love. My plan is already working: my recent Karen Walker purchases cost twice as much as I would normally spend but I adore each piece and they are on high rotation.
If you are still unsure of your approach, here are some ideas:
- Start a Pinterest board and collect images of outfits or garments you like. Add notes against each image recording what it is you like about it. Start looking for trends/patterns in the images you collect. If you visit my board (link above) you'll quickly get an idea of the types of looks I like and aspire to.
- Go to a local cafe and people-watch. Think about why someone looks so great in their outfit (or conversely, why they look terrible). Do this again in a different suburb, one that you are unfamiliar with. Do it again in another suburb to compare. Make sure you choose different social-economic and ethnic areas to get a broad range of ideas. You not only get to try a new cafe, you get inspired.
- Research unfamiliar brands that interest you. Online window shopping is great for this because you can stalk the clothes/sizes/prices anonymously. Remember to pin items you like to your Pinterest board!
- Blogs are also a great source of inspiration! Don't be afraid to ask bloggers questions about their outfits and their overall approach to shopping/styling.
- Be honest about your budget and the time you have available for shopping. Want to replace everything but have a couple of pre-schoolers in tow? That's fine, but accept that the bulk of your shopping will probably be online after the kids are in bed. Rushed in-store purchases are nearly always a mistake. Dreaming about Jimmy Choo pumps that are worth two weeks' rent? Wait for the similar Diane von Furstenberg style to go into sale on Shopbop. You still get the designer shoes, but for $400 not $900. Brand awareness plays a big part here. Be savvy so you understand where to spend your precious time and money (see Know Thy Brands below).
Remember, the goal is to work out what you want your new style/wardrobe to be, and to work within budget and time constraints.
Know Thy Stores
And know when and how they discount. Shopbop.com has a famous store-wide 25% off sale twice a year but they never announce it until the day it starts. Create a wishlist then join the mailing list so you can just pop those items straight into the basket when the sale comes. Country Road and Trenery offer generous spend and saves several times a year to cardholders (spend $300 get $100 off; spend $150 get $50 off). ASOS.com has free shipping and a huge range of fashion-forward items at reasonable prices if your budget is tight.
And remember to stalk the Northern Hemisphere web stores at the start of our Spring and our Autumn to catch their Winter and Summer sales. Lots of tat yes, but sometimes you can find a gem. Northern Hemisphere readers: do the same, obviously!
Know Thy Brands
Some designers never discount direct. Other have core lines that they never discount. Online department stores like Shopbop, ASOS, John Lewis, Debenhams and Need Supply Co. will often discount brands they carry, unlike the designers selling direct from their own web store or boutique.
Next Time...OK. You're primed and ready to hit the stores. Next time I'll offer some tips to get the most out of your shopping.