For the first time this year I went clothes shopping. Last Saturday I really stress-tested my commitment to my no-buy year. My dear friend needed a few things for her wardrobe and wanted my help. Everyone has a super power and mine is an intimate knowledge of what stores are likely to stock what. I make a good shopping partner.
Before I tell you how it went, I have a small confession. I bought a pair of glittery Alan Pinkus ballet flats. They winked at me from their half-off table and I had to have them. My ban never extended to shoes, but I still feel a little like a cheat. I am justifying them as a birthday present to myself. This is a secondary super power – being able to justify purchasing pretty things.
But onto our shopping expedition and whether I was sorely tempted or not.
My friend had a list of what she wanted to get so we had focus. Someone else’s focus is an effective method of avoiding temptation. It’s just not quite as effective as not going into the shops at all.
We flicked through Myer where there were dozens of lacy white and cream tops on special racks. Some flaunting floral embroidery. All soft and ethereal and desirable. I have many of these kinds of tops. I walked quickly past. Thankfully they aren’t the kind of thing my friend likes so I could turn a blind eye. But if you are in the market for a pretty, cream, lacy top, Myer has plenty.
Next stop: the stores marketed at pretty, young things with music louder than I like and cheap clothes. Cotton On Body always has great PJs and my friends scored on that front. I was tempted by their Supersoft range. Comfy trackies and hoodies in greys, pinks and blues. I stroked the fabric and stayed strong. I worry about shops like Cotton On and how they can manufacture so cheaply. However, they scored highly in the 2017 Ethical Fashion Guide – higher than retailers that sell at higher price point. Which goes to show that you shouldn’t rely solely on price as an indicator of ethical practices. The environmental impact of throw-away clothes of course remains.
The cheap, cheerful, fast-fashion stores can be relied on as trend barometers. Let me tell you, voluminous sleeves are the new off shoulder. They were everywhere. Button down collared shirts were also prominent. When they aren’t in fashion, they can be difficult to find inexpensively and the colour/print range is limited. So my advice to corporate types in need of fashion fix is to take advantage.
My dear friend found a few grown-up-but-not-too grown-up tops in Forever New. Alas, not in her size. We checked online and her size still existed in the warehouse. So a few tips around this – check with the store whether you can order online through them to avoid postage costs. Some stores will order to your nearest outlet and others can order free postage to your home. Take a snap of the tags with your phone so that you can easily find the style number when you get around to ordering.
Our search continued into the store I knew I would find hardest to resist: Zara. It was in full jumble sale mode and hard to negotiate. However, there were dreamy netted things covered in floral embroidery, all dark romance and broody melancholy. I like clothes with a bit of drama and Zara always has a few pieces like this. Again, not my friend’s thing so I left it with a wistful sigh.
The hunger-gatherer in me has never minded a messy store full of potential bargains. But after some time away from shopping, I realised that this is a stressful way to shop when you are looking for a specific item. When we stepped into the well-ordered world of DJs it felt like a relaxing retreat in contrast. Maybe I’m just getting old.
Definitely ended the day in sophisticated style with wine, arancini balls and a cheese platter. My friend had some lovely new clothes, I had a glittery new shoes and a (near) clear conscious.