My Top 5 Fashion Mistakes!

Hello! So I have some fun news, I have decided to go to my cousin’s wedding in Massachusetts – in two weeks’ time, yikes! A bit last minute but hey ho. As the date crept closer I kept feeling more and more sad to not be going, and plane fares dipped just enough to justify it, with the further impetus being it’s really a mini family reunion, which doesn’t happen at all often.

So there it is. And as with any trip, my eye has turned towards my closet. Something about solo travel gets me in the mind of “I will be the capsule collection minimalist traveller I have always dreamed of being”, as opposed to the “Throw in everything but the kitchen sink and hope for the best” type reality! I exaggerate slightly, I do try to have a few outfits planned,  but I often find myself chucking in things at the last minute “just in case”, resulting in less minimalist cohesion than is ideal, but I don’t know how to temper this urge.

At any rate, I am trying to think up what I am going to bring to still quite warm New England (but most of my summer clothes are more “Florida” so I am struggling a bit! New England brings to mind striped tops (of course!), chinos (what even?!) and um…I don’t know anymore honestly, I haven’t visited in almost a decade! I am used to visiting Florida, where fashion goes to die (just kidding Florida, I love your bright cheerfulness!). And my wardrobe is just…a mess, to be brutally honest. I am seeing more clearly how much stuff I have that I never wear, and I am determined to break this cycle. So in that vein, I am having a go at diagnosing my worst crimes against being a streamlined fashion goddess:

My Top Five Fashion Mistakes!

Fashion Klepto:

On a basic level I buy/own too much stuff. I mean, anyone who has seen my closet and bursting drawers would concur. And yet somehow I often feel I have nothing to wear. Genuinely, as in I have not left the house on a few more dramatic occasions because I became so frustrated with my lack of options. Which is not exactly ideal! How can it be that I own so many clothes that do not fit me? I have done pretty major clear outs this year, and yet still, if I’m honest, I could probably get rid of half of my wardrobe and not be any worse off in terms of the items that I actually wear. So how did I get here? Well I have identified a few traps lately.

 Fashion Fantasist: I occasionally buy things that I like “the idea of” more than the reality of: does it actually look good on my body? Am I the only nut job who does this? If I fall in love with something on the rack, and it goes on sale, I am often powerless to stop myself buying it, unless it looks truly dreadful on me. This is innate shopaholic syndrome 101, as written with great wit and humour by Sophie Kinsella in her Shopaholic series.

I will never forget the first time I read Shopaholic, when  the protagonist Becky Bloomwood goes into a positively lunatic reverie about a scarf “I will be the girl in the….scarf” and imagining all of the ways said designer scarf she cannot afford will improve her life in every way, and recognizing myself utterly. We all treat fashion as fantasy sometimes, of course, but to do it regularly to justify buying things we absolutely do not need or can’t afford, well, yes, been there, done that, bought the numerous t-shirts! I think we all sometimes have seen a magical garment that brings out our “This will change my life, I shall be elegant /French/vintage/tough/preppy, etc.” In short, “I shall be….a new version of me”…(in the great words of the 90’s show Felicity’s theme tune!). The idea of reinvention is one of fashion’s most illicit and powerful drugs, which I am often helpless to.

Fashion Flip Flopper: As in, I cannot ever seem to settle on my “tribe”, to the extent that I often buy things that are completely not “me”, because clearly I have no idea who I am fashion wise! I mean, I kind of want to be Gwyneth in the Hamptons, but I also kind of want to be Bianca Jagger at Studio 54. Of course we can dabble in whatever we feel inspired by; I do not believe we should box ourselves in in terms of style. But I do feel like allowing myself to indulge my fashion whims willy nilly has led to many ill-advised purchases which lay buried in the back of my closet where they belong.

Fashion Sale Rack Blinders: We’ve all been there? I mean, I am pretty bad if I’m honest. I’m talking gold lame tops with giant flowers embossed (to be fair this was during peak SATC), garish prints that I convince myself are “quirky”, mumsy tee shirts that will “come in handy”, too short dresses that ignore the fact I hate my knees….the list goes on. What is it about sale racks that make what little common sense I have when it comes to fashion go completely out the window? “It’s a bargain, I’m sure I will get some use of it” being the dominant train of thought. In my defense I have gotten ever so slightly better at this over the years, but I still approach sale racks with a strange combination of lust and fear.

Fashion Repeat Offender: Eventually you come full circle, and become a person who buys the same things over and over again. Is this what is known as a capsule wardrobe? I don’t know, but I find I have developed a seemingly endless well of need for striped tops, “the perfect jeans”, and hippy blouses. Which isn’t the worst thing in the world, but I do feel like I fall into the rut of repetition. All of my foibles and frivolities aside, I do generally just like the same things, and that gets boring after a while. I know this is about as first world problems as it gets, I apologize, but the strange combination of ennui and helplessness to buy more striped tops is quite stressful in its own very superficial way!  I am not kidding when I say that I have not one ounce of self -control if the perfect striped top presents itself. Why are they so addictive? They’re just stripes, after all, before Coco Chanel no woman on earth would have been caught dead in them.  And yet…they are magical, n’est ce pas? So…effortless…so…”The girl in the striped top who has obviously her fashion sh*t together” am I right? ;-0

So there it is, the ugly truth behind my cacophonous and bulging wardrobe. It’s a maelstrom, a perfect storm of psychological confusion, wish fulfilment, dreaming, trying and failing to be practical, and above all, just not using my logical brain enough. What is it about clothes? Is it mere greed? For me I think it is deeper, it is all of the things I mentioned and more. Ever since I was a little girl I have loved clothes, from my first garish attempts at 80’s fashion as a child to my teenage goth dabbling, and for whatever reason it has never left me, this elusive desire to create a wardrobe that is uniquely “me”. Maybe someday I will get there! In the meantime I do want to make some headway towards cohesiveness, which includes:

* Throwing out things I have not worn in years (Yes I do this from time to time, but still there are always a few things I can’t quite let go of)

* Indulging less in “fast fashion”. The U.K. high street is like a candy store of delicious disposable fashion, sure it fills you up briefly but perhaps it is time I start buying less, investing better in “wardrobe staples” I won’t lie, this idea holds about as much appeal to me as a kale smoothie, but I do feel like women my age should wear nice shoes and coats and whatnot, I find I only like the look of nicely made shoes nowadays…which um yeah, I need ‘mo money.

* Asking myself “Do I really need this” (for real) whenever I shop. This is not easy, I can talk myself into just about anything if I want it badly enough (I blame my Mother, the first generation shopaholic of my line!  ;-).

* Not buying clothes for a life I don’t have. I have no use of cruise wear, or an excess of summer clothes. I will never “wear this dress to a nice barbecue” because I cannot remember the last time I went to a barbecue! I need clothes for “occasional nights out at a restaurant or pub”, not “ in case I go disco dancing”, much to my inner disco dancer’s chagrin!

So there we have it…baby steps, am I right?

Of course I am in the midst of planning a trip, which involves a wedding, so all of these are likely to fall by the wayside (*cough* I have already ordered a dress I am 50/50 will even fit me) in the next two weeks! I haven’t been to New England in almost 10 years, so of course my inner fantasist and homesickness is starting to kick into fifth gear: “No Scottish clothes work in August in America” etc.! Ahem. It’s kind of true though, just saying…And I am actually almost out of striped tops, so there’s maybe a justifiable gap there too…("help me" in best Fly voice!)