Ironically, this photo is of me going through rails and rails of beautiful clothing in Incu at The Galeries, that I can’t afford. But that’s ok, because I’m wearing things I could afford – i.e. distressed knit by Living Doll and my favourite wide leg Stylestalker pants.
The savvy shopping I’m talking about today is specific to buying in stores 1) in a raging 50% off (or thereabouts) sale and 2) if there isn’t a sale going on, you’re only making notes of what you’ll buy when it goes on sale.
Sale sale sale. And designers will hate me for this – I still love you all, relax, but let’s face it. I can’t afford your clothes. So this is the honest and painfully frank inside scoop: I never buy full price. There’s a mark-up on all clothes, shoes, bags, whatever, that eventually will come down – and if it sells out before then, do you really want to buying that necklace, because now the 5000 they made are around 5000 other people’s necks which would just be awkward and mainstream (only half serious on that).
The times I’ve really forked out to buy full-price, I always walk past the store and its 70% OFF signs 2 weeks later and think about all the train tickets to uni that I could have bought with that extra $50.
More importantly, though, is how to find the beautiful pieces in sales – the aim of this game is to look well put together, not to be expensive. If the not-quite-silk shorts are the right colour and look amazing on, get them. You’ll be sick of them by the time they fall apart anyway.**
Touchy feely. Whenever I go to showings, I always get laughed at for feeling up the clothes (think leather, suede, silk, jacquard, wool) and never actually looking at that brilliant print until after I’ve assessed how the fabric feels. Because that’s important – you’re (hopefully) going to be wearing that dress. You don’t want it to make you sweat when you step outside. This is what will generally happen with fabrics that feel grainy when you scrunch it between your fingers (polyster, nylon, etc).
The philosophy here is that if it feels cheap, chances are it’ll look cheap. Sometimes darker or neutral colours will counter that (so as long as nobody touches you, then you’re sweet), but generally look for pieces that feel smoother or are heavier woven fabrics. They’ll generally last you a lot longer.
Swing both ways. If you find a beautiful dress in Size 700, don’t put it down. Stare at it for at least 5 minutes and think about the way you could belt it, stitch it, cut it, tuck it in, wear it as something else (enormous shirts as high-waisted skirts are a good one).
By the same token, if something’s too small, think about how the piece is constructed. If the bottom half is too small, cut it and wear it as a top. If the top half is tight, cut it, give it to your kid sister, and wear the skirt.
I call this: “I can’t afford these Acne shoes either, but let’s pull a face in this unflattering light and talk about shoes anyway.”
Shoes are a bit different for me. I’ve always said that if I ever become a millionaire (key word: if), the only designer things I’ll ever buy are shoes – because while it might not matter whether your white t-shirt is Cotton On or Alexander Wang, badly made shoes will destroy your feet and make you wish you didn’t even have feet. Then you’ll block it out of your memory and wear the same, poorly made shoes time after time because they look awesome, until your feet are beyond repair and your pedicurist judges you. And let me tell you – the number of sub-par shoes I own is marginally ridiculous. Almost everyone I know has seen me crawling somewhere at some point because I’ve vowed not to take my shoes off.
I would wear flats (Rubi ones with elastic edges are so comfy), but I’m short so here are some handy thoughts to have while sale-shopping for heels (though they probably apply to flats too):
- Make sure the inside is leather. Anything else guarantees blisters.
- Sitting on the try-on chair doesn’t count as being able to walk in them.
- Are you going to break your ankle at Dubstep night?
As a general rule, wedges are your safest bet. Remember that things are on sale for a reason. I don’t want too much hate, so I’ll leave that one to the imagination.
So I suppose the over-arching moral of the story is this. Nobody cares how much you bought something for, or even what the label is (tags are on the inside of your clothing… what’s the big deal?). If you look amazing, people you tell you so. Then, consider your surroundings and decide whether you want to tell them that your your revolutionary tailored shirtdress is actually a men’s shirt and you cut the back panel off.
P.S. don’t forget to check online before you buy something too – but more about that next time.
**Having said this, I’m the first to say that if you are looking for those timeless classics like blazers, tailored pants, shift dresses, black pumps, remember that ELLERY has sales too… sometimes…