This how I buy my clothes every season – the stage system!
Stage 1 – check what you already have
Every season I have a good sort out. I have a small wardrobe so I only ever have autumn/winter or spring/summer clothes in it at any one time. The other season is packed away in boxes. So every season I swap the clothes around and at the same time decide what I will be keeping and what I will be getting rid of. If I have time, I’ll try everything on just to make sure it looks and fits how I remembered. Anything I don’t want anymore can be sold on eBay to fund new clothes, or swapped with a friend (see below).
Now decision time – How many outfits do I already have? If it’s a fair few do I really need anymore? Obviously the greenest and most budget friendly option is to not buy any new clothes. Even with my love of new outfits, I do sometimes find, after the sort out that I’ve got loads of lovely clothes already (often some I’ve forgotten about) and I really don’t need to buy anything. However, if you find that you don’t have many clothes or if you’re decidedly uninspired by the selection before you, then move on to stage 2.
Stage 2 – decide what you want / need
As a new season approaches I get excited and want to plan my outfits for that season. To stop myself over buying, or buying items that won’t match anything else I have, I create a collage. Super quick and easy to do. Just type ‘autumn outfits’ into Pinterest for example and scan the results. I guarantee in 5 minutes you’ll have found a few looks you like. Sometimes this is job done for me, if I’m tight on time. If I have a few more minutes I’ll scan through my favourite clothes shops online. Ok, now you have your outfit ideas. This maybe online in a Pinterest account or if you’ve collected ideas from various sources maybe you can cut / print them out and make an actual paper collage. I have done both.
Before you move onto stage 3, do a quick hop back to stage 1 and check what you items already have from these new outfits. You don’t want to end up buying duplicate or similar items.
Ok, you should now have a list of clothes that you need to buy to create you looks for the coming season.
Stage 3 – shopping!
Hurray! I love shopping. This is an addiction that doesn’t match very well with being green, and I do struggle with it sometimes. However, I now have my shopping list of clothes I actually need, so I won’t go mad. This is the order that I shop in:
Not technically shopping, but still gets you new clothes. Do you have a friend or sister who is the same size as you? There’s a good chance she’ll be throwing stuff out that you want and vice versa. You can organise a larger scale swap with a group of friends, or at your local toddler/baby group, or at the office.
Second hand stuff
I start by trawling my local charity shops. Now, how successful this is will be will depend on where you live. When I lived in London, I used to go to the charity shops in Notting Hill and pick up almost my entire wardrobe there in designer and high end labels for less than £10 each. Now that I live in a small town my charity shops are 90 % full of OAP stuff, so it’s not so good for me.
However, I do occasionally find a gem, for example I picked up my absolute favourite dress in a charity shop for £2. It is a gorgeous green summer dress of a design I’d been looking for for years and had never been able to find in a ‘normal’ shop. That was about 3 years ago and it’s still my go to, most worn, summer dress. See my post ‘the perfect green mum dress’.
Next is eBay. I get loads of bargains here for myself and my kids. For example, I like to buy Frugi organic clothes for my babas but they are quite expensive. On eBay I regularly find either new or barely used Frugi items for a fraction of the price I’d pay direct from the shop. I also sell all my family’s old clothes on eBay for handy extra income. As a new season approaches I start searching ebay for gorgeous bargains, and nothing beats the thrill of winning a dress in new condition for £5 that would have cost you £60 in town. Just be sure to set yourself ‘bidding limits’ to stop yourself getting caught up in the excitement and bidding too much.
‘Green’ new clothes (e.g. Organic, fair trade etc)
This will depend on your budget. These clothes are often expensive. They can also be limited in the styles available. But keep an eye out for organic ranges in high street stores. I’ve bought organic clothes in Primark and New Look in the past.
I start with the cheaper stores to see if they have what I need, and work my way up. Budget stores and supermarkets definitely have some gorgeous kids clothes. I always try to buy natural fibres, generally cotton, especially for the babas. I am unsure of the ‘ethos’ of some of these stores though, and to be honest I’m scared to check, because I don’t have the money to buy expensive organic stuff all the time. Luckily though, after going through the stages above I don’t need to buy much from high street stores.
You have to think ahead with sales. They’re usually too far into the season to be of any use for clothes you want this year. But I always check them for clothes for the following year.
This is mainly something I do for my kids who need almost a whole new wardrobe every season as they grow. The main Next sales twice a year are legendary and you can pick up kids stuff for £2/3 per item.
So by following these stages, I still feed my fashion/shopping habit and look good, whilst being green and budget conscious.