Could You Do Fashion On a Budget?

Could You Do Fashion On a Budget?
fashion on a budget: track pants v business suit
fashion on a budget – more work pants and less business suits?

As I mentioned in presence, clothing is an issue that has been concerning me since the transplant. As I mentioned, I had to replace all my clothes, and I went a bit nuts, just buying things that I liked the look of with no real plan of how they would work together or even how they would look on.  I spent entirely too much money on clothes – most of them mistakes. And even worse, I still had nothing to wear!  It became apparent that I needed a system to procure fashion on a budget.

I recently stumbled across Fashion on the Ration! [1]. While there aren’t many posts documenting her progress, Susannah spent a year living within World War II clothing rations. It was a very brave step and one that she learned a great deal from, including how to think very carefully about what she bought. Her key lesson is that you must buy clothes for the life you are living now, (not the one where you join Katherine Hepburn and Clarke Gable for cocktails on the terrace). That means they must be:

climate appropriate While I live in a cooler area of Australia, I could probably continue to wear my summer clothes throughout winter with the addition of thicker tights and a camisole.
lifestyle appropriate I walk and take public transport so my clothes and shoes need to be a little more practical than if I drove everywhere.
versatile It makes sense to me to be able to wear the same clothes to work during the week, and then out to lunch or a gallery on the weekend (better cost per wear).  Not that I am currently going out to work regularly, but you get the picture.  Though I have to say that my lovely black wool crepe suit does feel a little as though it belongs in the cocktail fantasy life department.
suit your actual body I realised that my post-transplant body is rectangular (not hourglass), though I have a little belly left over from the dialysis. After five years on dialysis, I have become accustomed to dressing in loose comfortable clothing that doesn’t constrict my stomach.  I have recent pictures that suggest pants and tunic still look good.  But I would like to try something a little more tailored…
suit your personality Shortly after the transplant I realised I only had black clothes, understandable given I live in Melbourne (where it’s almost compulsory), but I wondered where I was in that sea of black. I longed for colour.  Since then I have branched out into red and blue, and I am loving that.  I have recently developed a craving for a really saturated yellow.
low – medium maintenance I’m ok with the odd spot of dry-cleaning, but I really don’t want to have to spend a day hand washing all my clothes.

One of the things that I find interesting about this, is that Susannah’s conclusions are very similar to the notions I developed last year about how to make good purchasing decisions.  Having said that, I do recognise that this kind of framework would take the fun out of clothes shopping for some people.

Certainly, when I was younger I just bought stuff as and when I needed it (with my brand new on the market credit card with the $200 limit).  I remember lusting after a fabulously expensive $400 Country Road jacket for months until I could afford to buy it – even though it didn’t fit me very well.  And then growing out of it shortly after and leaving it hanging in my wardrobe for years.  Not my wisest purchasing decision ever, I could have learned a lot from that experience if I had been paying attention.

And this sort of brings in the ball of string effect I have mentioned before; how one aspect of your life affects the others.  The $400 jacket would have looked better if I had set aside a little money to have it altered to fit me properly.  It would have been a little more practical if I had stayed the same size and been able to maximise the wear of it.  It would have been a little less disheartening if I had disposed of it immediately it ceased to serve my purpose.

So I need to add a practical focus on clothes that I need right now to my guidelines.  I need to focus on what I wear at home, not the hoped for employed future (a very hard choice indeed).  So I think for me, the next step is to develop some kind of “uniform” for working at home.

What about you – would you find this sort of framework a limitation or a structure?  Would it help or hinder you in your shopping?  Have you ever really thought about it?

[1] Sorry! This site now sells door furniture!

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