Shop Your Wardrobe

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A shopaholic's guide to falling in love with your own clothes again!

You know you’re in trouble when the storage of your shopping addiction forces you to consider moving house!

Chronic hoarder and self-confessed shopaholic are unfortunate bedfellows.  As a single girl, paying her way and working for the weekend, I had no one to answer to and 3 fitted wardrobes to fill – one of which, a gorgeous, generous double!  Gleefully, I filled them up.  Year-on-year, my shopping habit grew with my disposable income.  The more I earned, the easier each perfect purchase was to justify.  


When you’ve amassed so much stuff to wear, your clothes rarely get worn out. 

Everything remains almost as fresh and new as the day it was lovingly unwrapped from the tissue paper and hung, proudly, in the wardrobe, tag hanging intact, until the fabulous moment arrives – The First Outing. 

When each piece is carefully curated and archived in this way, the thought of parting with anything is, quite literally, a painful prospect. 

And so, I lived in utter denial of the issue, while constantly promising my nearest, dearest and anyone who’d listen (usually the sales assistants ringing up my purchases) that I would HAVE to stop.  

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When Mr O moved in, I made more promises: to have a proper clear out.  To give him his own wardrobe, chest of drawers, shelves… 

5 years on and he’s still only got half a wardrobe (the smallest), 3 drawers (out of a chest of 4) and one shoe-rack. 

But my darling NEVER complains, never asks me to stop shopping and never demands more space.  Yes, my friends, he is a saint!

Then, finally, an epiphany.  Bro-in-law was coming for Christmas and we needed to make the spare room/music room/dressing room into a habitable bedroom.

As I hastily rearranged things, and sheepishly informed by poor bro that there would literally be no hanging space for him on arrival, I realised, beyond all doubt, that the time had come to STOP SHOPPING.  


As the year turned, and all around me resolutions were made and broken, I set myself a challenge: could I stop shopping for a month?  Could I?  If so, could I extend that to three months?  Maybe then a year of abstinence would look like a manageable prospect.  As January unfolded, the spatial necessity for giving up my addiction turned into a fiscal one.  I opted for voluntary redundancy from my job of 18 and a half years.  If I couldn’t cut myself off, the prospect of finite funds and no paycheck would surely do it for me.


As with kicking any habit, they say making a public declaration helps keep you on track.  In the spirit of this advice, and in the hope I can help you, fellow clothes-lovers, I’ve created a 5-step guide to shopping your own closet.  So if you want to cut the habit before it becomes a super-sized storage issue, or if you simply want to save money and free some space in that over-stuffed wardrobe, read on to ensure you’re bang on trend without buying any more!


1. Identify the colour trends of the season (pink and yellow for s/s17), then locate all the items you already own in these colours and ensure they still fit and are in tip-top condition.  Wash or dry clean any that need freshened up, sew on missing buttons and stream or iron everything.  


2. Repeat the above for any key trends that you LOVE.  For example, this season, you could be on the look out for ruffles, belted waists – especially waist-cinching corset belts – gingham pieces, floral embroidery, pearl adornments or Oriental-style prints.  Whatever is big in the current season, that you really love, pull it out and keep it to one side.


3. Pinpoint statement pieces.  These are the pieces in your wardrobe that you love, love, love!  The ones that, season after season, irrespective of trends and fleeting fashions, are the go-to items that make you feel wonderful.


4. Edit your denim.  If there’s one thing that will date your look it’s the shape and cut of your jeans.  But there’s no need to run out and buy the latest look – instead, with a little bit of imagination and a tiny tweak or two, you’ll be rockin’ the hot, new shape in no time.  If you’re handy with a sewing machine, all’s the better, if not, a few quid to your local seamstress will see you right.  


5. See things differently.  I think the best way  to work out new outfits is to lay everything out on the bed.

Alternatively, try it all on and then hang it together, as an outfit, on the hanger.

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Don't forget to include belts, scarves, necklaces and even underwear and handbags! 

That way, you can arrange your closet by outfit and find everything quickly and easily.

By isolating the key trends, colours and statement pieces you already own and updating your tired denim, you’re already on the road to re-imagining that wardrobe of yours.  Once you see what you own in terms of trends and colours, you can mix and match things in completely different ways, creating unexpected outfit combinations that tick the trend box, feel totally new to you and save you spending a small fortune to feel in style.  You know what they say, failing to prepare is preparing to fail!  Same goes for fashion, lovelies!

If, after doing all of the above, you didn’t find anything to work with, there could be a shopping requirement here after all!  If that's the case, check out my upcoming post on creating a capsule wardrobe with just 15 Easy Pieces.