manage your wardrobe

"single out the items you wear on a regular basis, treasure them and get rid of the rest!"

GET IN CONTROL

Oftentimes cupboards are crammed full of clothes, and most of them are not even used. You will grow out of garments, physically or mentally. Accept that as a matter of fact. Single out the items you wear on a regular basis, treasure them and get rid of the rest!

Rid yourself of clothes you do not wear – sell them online or in specialty commission shops. You can re-invest the money in wearable outfits. Of course, you could give them away as well, to friends or charities. Better they are put to use, right? A narrower range of clothes gives you a better overview and a greater opportunity to decide. When in control, you can easily weed things out and you can see what is missing.

Make a strategic decision to dress in fewer colours. Presumably, you already have a handful of colours that you wear more frequently, colours that suit you. Focus on these and you will need fewer matching purses, scarves, shoes and belts.
When making your decision, be sure that your purchase not only looks good on you but that it is also coordinated with your existing wardrobe. A newly bought item sitting on a hanger on its own because it has no friends; well, that is just sad.

Avoid sales if you can – chances are you will buy a slightly ill-fitting item because it is cheap, or you will buy items that no one else wants, clothes of low quality. Ask yourself this: if you wanted it in the first place, why didn’t you buy it at the full price? A good rule of thumb is to only buy an item on sale if you had planned to buy it anyway.

Hang on to your favourites, make the necessary alterations. A small hole or tear might be mendable. If not, you could perhaps put on a patch or a similar application. Move a few buttons for a better fit. If the cuffs are frazzled, shorten the sleeves. If your trousers are stained, make a pair of shorts. Simply: wear your favourites longer.

* Keep your favourites and make sure that the
rest are put to use
* Coordinate your finds with existing garments
* Avoid sales if you can
* Save your favourites – alter and patch

KNOW YOUR SHAPE—KNOW YOUR TASTE

If you have no problems knowing what looks good on you, you have basic taste. That makes shopping easy. And you will rarely make expensive mistakes.

When looking for advice on what to wear, you will notice that it often boils down to formulated answers – all according to a very conservative standard: what colour to wear at what time of day, the length of a cuff, the length of a skirt. Even the shape of your body is converted into a fruit or letter form. The one thing that is not standardised is your body – and hopefully not your taste.

Get to know what looks best on you, with your body type and more importantly, your taste. There is only one way forward, really: try, try again. You will always look your best in clothes you feel comfortable in – think second skin!

Before hitting the shops, do your research. Read magazines, visit the brand websites and see the whole range – shops will cherry-pick from designer ranges, maybe the buyer’s fashion sense differs from yours. Get your intel straight, do not miss out.

If you know what you want and what to buy, you will rarely make the simple mistakes that end up stuck at the back of your cupboard. These are the priciest items you will ever buy, considering how often they are used. When in doubt, put them back again.

* Know your shape and taste
* You will look good if you feel comfortable
* Intel is key, do not miss out
* Avoid making the simple mistakes

TRYING ITEMS ON

By knowing yourself, you do not need to trust the manufacturers’ sizing: have a look – with just a little practice, you will soon see what fits without even checking the tag. Trust yourself – not the sizing scheme!

Try this when shopping: leave the size tags unread. You will notice that you can trust your own eyes and instincts. You are better off doing this than relying on the manufacturers’ sizing. Sizes differ from brand to brand, from garment to garment. You know your body best. Also there is psychology in sizing that you want to avoid – perhaps you wish you were a medium and therefore only pick that size? Do not kid yourself if you want to look great.

Always try the item on. That’s just common sense. When going into the fitting room, take a few sizes with you. Feel the difference, don’t just see it.

You could ask a sales person for a second opinion – here you do need to be careful. Flattery is part of their job description and they will always prefer a sale rather than making the best choice. With that in mind, hear them out. But if you rely heavily on second opinions, bring a trusted friend instead.

Use a full-length mirror. This gives the best overall view for good judgement. Only seeing parts of your body can distort your final look.

* Always try the item on
* Do not rely on sizing schemes
* Do not trust sales persons
* Use a full-length mirror

CHECK FOR FLAWS

Once you have tried your find on, check for flaws! You do not want to get home and find stains, loose threads, poor overlaps and bad stitching.

You should aim for quality rather than quantity. Quality is cheaper because you can wear it longer – and you want to wear it because it looks better. And remember, quality is not only fabrics and seams – quality is also in the design and patternmaking.

How do you find quality, then? Scrutinise the fabric, seams and applications closely. Pull lightly on buttons and let go – there should be no slack or loose threads. Examine the buttonholes. Does the zipper run smoothly, without effort? Run your nails carefully over the fabric, check for snags where there should not be any. If you find no faults, that is quality – no matter the price tag.

The devil is in the details. As much as you want to leave the size tag unread, you do want to read the care instructions carefully. Is it dry-cleaning only? If so, are you prepared to make the effort down the line? If the item is made of delicate fabric, will you get the delicate detergent needed and hand wash it (even if you let your machine do it for you)?

What is the item made of? Value your natural fabrics over synthetics – but be prepared to spend. Cashmere, merino wool and silk will cost you – but nothing beats nature’s softness, breathability, warmth and feel. Also remember to check the quality of the fabric itself. For example, individual fibre strands should be long rather than short.

Colour is important! The dye will look different in daylight compared with the bright and unnatural fluorescent light in many shops. So, if you have the possibility, see what it looks like outside or by the window. Do remember to ask a sales person if you are going to venture outside.

Buy quality cheap at second hand shops – quality lives on. Knowledgeable second hand shop owners know what they are doing, items are have already been selected and will cost a bit more. For a real bargain, visit yard sales, flea markets and go on-line. Perhaps there lies a Hermès scarf in that box of polyester rags. Just make sure the garment smells fresh, check for stains on the collar and cuffs.

* Aim for quality rather than quantity
* Scrutinise the details, fabric and colour
* Always read the care guide carefully
* Find cheap quality apparel second hand

Photos: Courtesy of COS