Thursday, 27 March 2014

My 3 Rules For Clothes Shopping

Good Day Everyone,

A couple of weeks ago I did a post on clearing out my wardrobe (Closet Clear-Out) and today I've decided to revisit the theme of clothes and will be sharing my three rules for buying clothes. Different people will have different tips / rules for buying clothes but over the years I’ve found that these three work really well for me :o) 

1. The Right Colour & Shade:

When it comes to clothes shopping, the first thing I do when I walk into a store is to seek out my colours. There are some colours (and shades) that just instantly make me look more alive, they lift my complexion making me look healthier and brighter. I’m not talking about bright, loud colours here, I’m talking about colours that suit my skin tone, hair and eye colour and my overall complexion. On the flip side there are colours (or shades) that just do not suit me. They make me look washed out, ill, and just don’t do anything for me. My main thing with colour is that I want to be wearing the colour, rather than the colour wearing me… there’s an important difference, I feel. When I’m wearing the colour, I will look good, and both myself and others will notice that I look good. When the colour is wearing me, I don’t look good. The clothing item / colour may look good and people may comment that that is a nice top / dress but that’s just it, people notice the clothing item, not me

The way I tell whether a colour (or shade) looks good on me is by holding it up close to my face when I’m wearing no makeup. Makeup can alter and interfere with the way a colour looks on you which is why when I go clothes shopping I tend to wear no / minimal makeup with not much colour. Colours that suit you will look good on you in your natural state i.e. with no makeup.
Some of my shades of green: khaki green, sage green, lime green

Over the years, I’ve learnt that there are some colours where most of the shades within those colours will look good on me. For me, these include most shades of green, red, pink and purple. I can wear most shades of green ranging from olive, khaki green to bright avocado green through to even lime green. However, there are some colours where only a very specific shade will look good on me. For years, I thought that blue was not my colour. It didn’t matter what blue clothes I tried on they just never looked right on me. Recently I discovered that it wasn’t a case of blue not looking good on me but rather I just hadn’t found the right shade of blue for me. It was only when I came across this blue blazer that I realised that I could actually where blue but it needs to be in this particular shade. Likewise, yellow isn’t my colour unless it is a mustardy shade with a warm undertone to it. Also, I can only wear very specific shades of orange, beige, white (yes white does have more than one shade ;o). Most, if not all, colours look good on everyone, it’s just a case of finding the right shade of that colour for you. 
Finally, a shade of blue I can wear
The other thing about colours and shades is that I try to wear what suits me as opposed to what I like. Often there is a difference. I don't particularly like the colour purple, but over the years I've learnt that it's actually a colour that really suits me. People at work used to compliment me whenever I wore purple and now its quite a dominant colour in my wardrobe, so much so that I even have a purple coat! Very Willy Wonka-ish! 
When it comes to wearing the colours (and shades) that suit me, I wear these on the top half of my body i.e. close to my face as they greatly enhance my complexion. Now I’m just going to put this out there… but black is not my colour! I know some people think that black is a wardrobe staple and people often refer to it as a safe colour but black does absolutely nothing for me. As a result I tend to wear black on the bottom half of my body, away from my face, and pair it with one of my colours on the top half of my body. I do have a black blazer but as this gets paired with a coloured top and / or coloured scarf that suits me, the black not suiting me doesn’t become the focal point. I have a few black dresses that I’ve worn to black tie and formal events but here I will use colour in my makeup and accessories to make it look better on me.
Some of my shades of red, pink and purple
There are professionals out there such as personal shoppers and image consultants that can help people determine what colours / shades suit them the most using colour analysis techniques and principles. Whilst some might find these very helpful, I feel that most people can usually tell what colours / shades suit them because they will instantly look and feel beautiful, confident, positive and happy in their colours.

2. The Right Fit & Cut:

Once I’ve found clothes in one of my colours, the next thing that I look at is the fit and cut of the clothes and this includes the shape / style of the clothes. I guess you could say that whilst colour and shade is about enhancing your natural complexion, fit and cut is about enhancing your body shape

How clothes fit me is just as important to me as the colour and shades of the clothes. Being particularly short (4’11”) and unable to wear high heels (due to arthritic feet) I have to be very careful about the fit and shape of my clothes. To make things even more tricky, despite being slim (I’m a UK size 8-10) I have curves which can be challenging to dress when I’m sooo short! The top and bottom half of my body is quite evenly balanced in that I’m not long waisted and neither do I have particularly long or short legs relative to my overall height. 

However, I do have hips and so I tend to avoid clothes that cinch me in at the waist because whilst I do have a defined waist, being short, I feel that clothes that emphasise my waist by default also emphasise my hips, as they’re so much wider than my waist. Plus as I have a bit of a tummy I feel this gets highlighted with clothes that go in at my waist because right after my waist goes in, my hips and tummy go out and this contrast is too much for my body height to pull off. Therefore, I prefer clothes that go in above my waist, like an empire cut although not always as high as right under my bust. This way immediately below the narrowest part being emphasised, there is a bit of length space for the clothes to gradually and subtly move outwards and skim over my wide hips – does that make sense?

I look better in structured clothes that define my shape rather than long floaty maxi dresses that just drown me and emphasise my wide hips along the way. Just as you want to wear the colour, rather than the other way round, you also want to wear the clothes rather than the clothes wearing you. Maxi dresses definitely wear me! This doesn’t mean that I can only wear trousers / blazers and not dresses, it just means that I have to be more selective in the types of dresses that I wear. 

Generally speaking long dresses do not look good on me, even if they are fitted and not maxi dresses, because wearing that one colour / pattern for the whole length of my body makes me look shorter, I feel. I tend to look better when I can break the colour or pattern up to create two parts to my length. So if I am wearing a long dress, I will look for one that is fitted at the top and with a different colour or pattern on top versus the bottom. Alternatively, with a long dress that is the same colour / pattern throughout its length, I will throw on a crocheted top or shirt that I can tie in the middle or a cardigan to break up the colour / pattern. I will often wear long (usually dark coloured) skirts with a fitted coloured top. This gives me structure and definition on the top half of my body in a colour that suits me and the long skirt doesn’t dwarf me the way a long dress would due to the difference in colour and fabric on the top half of my body versus the bottom half. With shorter dresses, the break in colour / pattern becomes a bit less important to me as my legs will break the look up. I will opt for short dresses that cinch in somewhere between under my bust but above my natural waist and therefore skim my hips. 
The short length and pleat detailing at the waist makes this a great blazer for me

I definitely wear trousers more than dresses because they give my short body more structure and definition. I often wear jeans / trousers with a top and a blazer as my day to day look but I do have to be careful with the length and cut of my blazers. A longer blazer can make me look like I’m being drowned by it and shorten my legs, and so I never wear blazers that completely cover my bum as they’re too long for my height. I tend to go for short, cropped blazers that sit above my bottom as they make my legs look longer and ideally blazers that have some kind of detailing at the waist to draw the eye in. The cardigan blazer below is shorter at the back and sits above my bottom and becomes slightly longer at the front and so works perfectly on my short frame.

Typically on the top half of my body, if I’m wearing something that’s a floaty fabric then I make sure it’s cut in a shapely manner and fits well, doesn’t drown the top half of my body and I will pair it with fitted jeans / trousers. If I’m wearing a fitted top I always make sure that it fits my shoulders and chest well without being too clingy on my tummy area. 

Whilst for me personally, the cut and the fit of the clothes is more important than the fabric itself, often the fabric type determines the cut and style of the clothing item and therefore the fit. So it is important to pay attention to the fabric. I like structured clothes on me but certain fabrics that are a bit stiff and often used for structured tops can look a bit boxy. Floaty chiffon type fabrics that are very elegant and good for skimming over, the not so favourite parts of my body, my tummy and hips, could add unnecessary bulk if the fabric is gathered or pleated, for example. Likewise, whilst a chunky knit sweater is a great winter staple, the bulkiness adds unnecessary bulk onto my short stature and so I prefer a thinner sweater like ones made of cashmere that I could layer with a blazer. I only ever wear chunky knits if I'm wearing them more as a coatigan like the lime green one below (a cardigan that's worn as a coat) as that way the clothes underneath it will define my shape. I wear this particular one with black skinny jeans and a cream or white fitted T-shirt or sweater.

3. Frequency & Longevity:

Once I have found clothes in the right colour and fit / style for me the third and final thing that I look for is frequency and longevity. What I mean by this is how much wear am I realistically going to get out of a particular clothing item and therefore is it good value for money? I don’t tend to pay much attention to current fashion and trends and instead prefer to focus on what works for me and my body

By frequency I’m referring to clothes that I will wear often and on a regular basis. For me these include items such as blazers, day to day tops and jeans / trousers. Clothes that I wear on a daily basis and will often go with other clothes to create different looks and outfits. 

By longevity I’m referring to clothes that will be timeless pieces for me. So whilst I may not wear them day in day out, they stand the test of time by lasting me for many years. These are things like a well fitted shirt, a good pair of jeans, a lovely going out dress, a black dress for formal events / dinners, a nice sparkly top etc.

Sometimes clothes will tick both the frequency and longevity criteria. These typically tend to be pieces that may be a bit more expensive as they are very well made and last a long time despite frequent wear because they wash well. 

Obviously there are other things that I will consider when buying clothes such as price, the detailing or pattern, quality of stitching, whether it’s something that is a trend and therefore may be in fashion now but not in a few months, whether I have something similar to the item in question already, whether the item in question goes with other clothes in my wardrobe to make a complete outfit versus having to buy more clothes to create a look around the piece in question etc etc. However the three points highlighted in this post are my top three considerations for buying clothes.

What rules or tips do you bear in mind when shopping for clothes? How do you decide whether something is a good buy?

Love Sheen xxx

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