Shopping for clothes
I went shopping for clothes. I hate shopping for clothes. I don’t buy fashion magazines, so I have no idea what is ‘in’ and what is ‘out’ and frankly I don’t care.
After a year (2017) of not buying clothes it had come to a point where I needed some new clothes. Just so you know I don’t plan to go on a shopping spree by any means in 2018. Instead I will buy only what I need to replace what has worn out. Yes I do have holes in my clothes. No I don’t darn. I struggle to thread a needle. Perhaps we need a Trade School on Make Do and Mend?
What is fashion?
I don’t have a clue. I know what I like and what my style is (casual, bold colour and verging on hippy dippy). I am also not a size zero (I am fat) and being somewhat apple shaped wearing anything with a waist is tricky. If trousers fit me around the middle they flap around my hips. This year I will be 59. My nan at my age had grey hair, wore crimplene dresses and sensible shoes. I am with her on the sensible shoes. But instead of beige leather lace ups they are gaudy Skechers.
I decided that if I stuck to three big chains I would be on a safe bet. House of Fraser, Debenhams and trusty Marks and Spencer because where else does one buy ones undies? Yes they had holes in them too.
The Interview Dress
As I am job hunting and anticipating interviews I was also on the look out for something that was suitable for an interview. A bit more grown up, more Monica than Phoebe. But not Rachel. More Penny than Amy. Anyway, enough of the Friends and Big Bang characters, and more about me.
My style. I am not a suited and booted person and not seeking a corporate job. And while jeans were fine in my old job I still wore a dress for the interview. So not a slick suit (I am an apple so suits are a definite no) and no jeans. A dress, not too short, smart but not too dull. No low neckline. Not frumpy WI style, not mutton dressed as lamb. Not a Patsy nor an Edina. Basically a big ask.
Again, by sticking to the big three shops, I thought I could nail it. And I did. In the first shop. And in the sale. Marked down to £20 from £60. In. The. Bag. My own bag because you know, Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.
It is made by Great Plains of London which is not a label I had heard of before. It drapes over my lumps and bumps and is suitably conservative for interviews, but not frumpy. I can wear boots with it and flat shoes. Boom! First shop and I am on a roll.
The boring bit out of the way, now to find clothes for every day. As I am my mother’s daughter, I head to the East concession in House of Fraser. Mom wore bright linens and cottons in her eighties. No frumpy clothes for her and none for me either. East had a big reductions on old stock and 30% off all new season clothes. The third week of January is clearly the time to go shopping for clothes. Retailers have sale clothes marked down to silly prices and new season offers to get people spending again post Christmas.
The Linen Vest
I try on a few linen tops in the sale and love one but, get this, the XL is too big for me. And that is why I never take much notice of the size on the label. I am a tad disappointed as I love the linen and the bright blue azure colours and it would be great for travelling. I think it would be tricky to alter (I don’t sew remember) and leave it on the rail. I do however get the ink linen vest. I know that the CPW will be a low ratio (already worn it three times).
The Ski Pants
I am not going skiing but ski pants are what I bought. I used to have trousers like this as a small child when they were called trews and again as a skinny yummy mummy in the 80’s – I got them at Next, when I still liked their clothes. I like the ski pants, they are smarter than jeans and not as formal/boring as other trousers. They passed many of my trouser tests: high waist, stretchy, suit my apple shape as they fit the bum and tum. But are they frumpy?
As I debate the frumpiness versus comfort arguments in my head, a 40 something woman shopping with her 70 something mother approaches the same ski pants and declares this is just what she is looking for. For her, not her mom. She is wearing a funky coat and bright coloured tights and is definitely not frumpy.
I explained my dilemma. She deemed them not frumpy and perfect to wear with ankle boots because they had a stirrup and would not ride up over the boots. Her mom was not convinced of the material (she too must have had a crimplene clad granny) but funky 40 something did not agree. They are textured black stretchy fabric and also came in black and white dogtooth a retro fifties style, which I thought was Going Too Far for me. Anyway, in the bag at £25.
I liked these so much I bought two in different colours. Debenhams, Mantaray label. I have had clothes from this brand before. And affordable at £30 each. I know that I will live in them, and they go with the ski pants and jeans. In the bag.
What I did not buy
Seriously, who would? I shared these photos on Facebook and the conclusion that they were what you would wear to a WI meeting. Yet this is a fashion label I associate with young women. Perhaps they all want to join the WI.
Perhaps this is the new trend. Be your granny. After all the bright young things are all colouring their hair grey (cool apparently). Let me tell you this, I may know nothing about fashion but I am not going to embrace the grey or be seen in clothes like this. If sixty is the new hippy then thirty must be the new frumpy. Look for these clothes on the bargain rail soon because no one will be be buying them. Will they?
What I spent
In all I spent £148.50 as I added new undies costing £12 to the basket at M&S. Because it was sale time I saved £53.50 at House of Fraser. I have a new capsule wardrobe that will last me a couple of years. I could do with some smart flat shoes to wear with dresses but that is all I am looking for now. I may add a couple of dresses to the mix if I get the job. If I don’t I won’t. There is nothing else I need. These key items together with the rest of my clothes are enough.
The Project 333 bit
It is a new year and time to pick my 33 key items in my capsule wardrobe. Some current items will be retired and the new items will replace them. I started Project 333 a couple of years ago. I have a colour palette that I am happy with but after a year of not buying clothes and wearing the same things, I needed to introduce some new key items. Everything I bought matches my jewellery and other all my other clothes.
I will be packing away the clothes I won’t be wearing this season and basing what I wear on the five items I bought. As I mentioned above, if I get a proper job I may add to them. As my current wardrobe veers to the casual side of smart casual I may need to. I have found a new label I like and think that is where I will go to for the smarter work wear.
Could you manage with just 33 items of clothes per season? And what do you spend on clothes each year? This was a big spend for me and a day shopping was retail overload for me. It is not something I plan on doing again for some time.