In this series of articles we have been exploring ideas to help curate your own signature style and a wardrobe that makes you more productive.
There are five parts in this series, and I've written mini, less-than-5-minute articles within each one for you to explore bit by bit.
This article belongs to the Curating chapter:
Being outside of the US, 'Black Friday' madness didn't really affect me much until this year. I don't notice sales much in general (I'll explain why in this article), but this year, I found myself bombarded.
Whether a result of globalisation, or my recent visit to the US, I just felt it was too much. Too many sales, too many options, too many discounts, too much of too much.
A few years ago I realised that while I love a bargain, I don't much like buying things in a sale.
Sales are pretty chaotic, panicky, often rushed, and usually anxiety inducing, especially if you're in a physical store when something like a Black Friday sale is on.
Don't mistake me: I appreciate that you need to head to the outlet area or sales racks to get a bargain.
But in general, I find myself ok with paying the normal price... if it means the experience is less exhausting.
This leads me to a key point of this series: cost per wear.
Cost per wear is about how much value you get from something you purchase. The idea of cost per wear helps you think about the long term value of the piece you are about to buy, and how often it will be used.
A dress that is worn once but costs 5000GBP, has a very high cost per wear.
A cashmere jumper that cost 5000GBP, and you wear 5 times a week has a very low cost per wear - each time you wear it, you get more from the value you paid for it.
There are always exceptions: sometimes it makes sense to splurge on a one-off occasion like a wedding dress etc.
But in general, keeping cost per wear in mind when shopping means you actually get a lot of value out of your clothes. You wear them often, and in the long run, you find yourself thinking: "buying this piece was so worth it".
There are some questions I ask in order to help me find those pieces. Here they are:
Questions to ask before a purchase
I find myself running through key questions before purchases. They go something like this:
Do I have space for this item?
Where exactly will it live? Who else in the closet will it hang out with?
I like to know there is space for it, or have ideas for where it can physically sit while I'm thinking about buying something.
In this question I'm also considering whether I already have enough of this type/colour/style/accessory.
This helps me know whether I'm replacing, filling an existing gap, or adding to what's already there.
Can I afford the care for this item?
If it's expensive or well made they sometimes need maintenance.
I recently entered into the world of caring for sustainable cashmere, and it's so different to washing or looking after 'normal' clothes.
Some other dresses I have are hand wash only - so it means I need to pay attention to the wear, tear and care of those clothes.
Can I actually afford this item?
When lost in the excitement of welcoming the potential new item into your closet or life, you can almost lose sight of this practical point.
Do you have enough moolah (money) for it?
I love this simple piece of advice: if you can't afford to buy it twice, you probably can't afford it.
This isn't always clear cut, especially if the item is a one-off or a unique piece. Just, it's still so important to consider.
The three questions here are some of the most common I run through when thinking about making an addition to my closet or even home.
Do I have space for it?
Can I take care of it?
Do I have the money for it?
I find asking these questions very helpful when making new purchases. Especially once all the groundwork is done on curating your own wardrobe.
I hope you enjoyed this series on productively organising and curating a closet that supports you.
A brief summary of the general ideas underpinning this series is:
Understand your values and know your ideal style.
Have an idea of colour palettes & materials you love.
Invest in high quality, long term pieces that you will use well.
Don't be afraid to wear the same pieces over and over.
Doing these things has helped me spend less time worrying about my clothes and more on other things that I love to do. It's helped me to make a wardrobe I can rely on for the climate I live in and activities I take part in.
We are all like walking flags: what we wear can speak volumes about who we are and what we stand for. I think that's why wearing clothes that matter to us, on our own terms, is so liberating, and even daring. In this one life, we have this one body, and for the most part we have autonomy over how we dress and the choices we make. I hope you can enjoy curating your wardrobe and being your own favourite flag. :)