So far on my travels, the question I get the most is “How do you have so many cute clothes?” Well, it’s not the most popular, but it is my favorite, so work with me here. The list of my shopping rules are extensive, three years in the making, actually, so lock the doors, lower the blinds, fire up the smoke machine, because I know exactly what you need…
1) Let’s clean out your closet. This one is going so important for so many reasons, for the baby bat wriggling out from the thumb of parental control to the most experienced thrifter. Some people do a full cleaning every six months, I do it once a year, that part is up to you, but honey, you’ve got to know what you have. If this is your first massive cleansing, get rid of the “placeholders” (the things that sort of look like what you want but aren’t it), the “uncomfortables” (super cute, but is not the most flattering or comfortable to wear), and the “waiting for the right times” (when that 1960s meets steampunk Christmas party rolls around I am going to slay). These three categories are what weighs you down when you have to move or look for that one item you actually care about, and takes up so much space in your closet that could go to pieces you really want. Exceptions? Special occasion clothing, like your prom dress that you love too much to let go, wedding dresses and suits, the tired and true red dress that every person you meet has to see you in, these can stay. But keep this simple thing in mind, “It should be a treasure, not a burden.” No matter how recently you bought it, how much money you spent on it, (some mistakes have been so costly), it’s okay to let it go. Send it off to friends, eBay, or the thrift store, but if it’s just there and you don’t really love it…work it out. Where is the dress of your dreams going to go if the dress your “not quite best friend and hella shady to boot” fashionista forced you get is filling its rightful place?
2)Have your wishlist at the ready. Remember when I said, you’ve got to know what you have? Good, you’re keeping up. I have my closet memorized so when I go to thrift stores, I’m not buying the same thing a sixth time (which has actually happened with two pieces of clothing…). Now with thrift stores, there are two approaches. One, is don’t go with a super specific wishlist. The beauty of thrift stores is that you never know what you’re going to find, and if you are a diligent list follower, you might miss out on a gem, or get frustrated you aren’t finding that one thing. (We’ll talk about thrifting in the very near future.) Two, go with a super specific wishlist. This is my approach, just because I have a lot of clothes and I’m still traveling at the moment. If I find that absolutely perfect floor length purple lace gown…get it. If I find it in black or red…don’t get it. Sure, people make exceptions for price and the likelihood of finding it again, but I think you really have to think about it. Which means….
3) Ask yourself the questions… “You don’t really need it. You have clothes. Plenty of clothes…but you don’t have this.” You scan the fabric for imperfections to dissuade you from getting it, but there isn’t a flaw to be found. “If only there was a way to make this easier…”
Are you going to wear it within the next week? Are you going to wear it frequently or at least to enough to make it worth the money? Is it in really good shape? Do you have something like it that you like more? Does it fit and fit well? Can you make it? Can it go with at least several other pieces?
I don’t think I have to explain to you the more nos that rack up… But those last two points are wickedly important.
4) Can you make it? If you can sew, and by sew I mean, follow a pattern/understanding garment design, know several stitches and how to cut fabric, you know the basics, you should listen up. If you don’t know how to sew and want to, you should listen too. What a lovely place to learn. If you don’t know how to sew and don’t care to learn, well…hmm…you might need to listen most of all. Sometimes the price tag is a reflection of the convenience of getting ready made. Basics mostly fall into this category, like t-shirts, simple dresses, cardigans. Sometimes it’s about quality of materials or the print of the fabric. Yeah, it’s cotton, but it’s the cotton woven from fucking dreams. This is the reality.
You, darling you, are eyeing a simply constructed piece from a store. The price tag reads $40. Having a become a diligent shopper (from my tutelage teehee), you know the material isn’t that great, the design is a little too simple for the price (because you know you can get a price for something better elsewhere) and you already have clothes. You can find fabric, say two yards at four dollars a yard, with some kind of discount if you play your patience right. Thread’s pretty cheap, you can hand stitch if you need to, could take an hour on a machine. (If I’m encouraging you to sew things, I should probably post stuff about sewing machines…will do). There’s probably a pattern you can tailor just a little bit to look like this, and with Simplicity and McCalls being 99 cents frequently…Sure time is a factor, but seeing as you don’t need it right this second and learning a skill is not a terrible thing to have in life, maybe making it is better. Maybe you don’t need to pay $40 for it right this second…what else could you buy and use right now for $40?
A lot, by the way, the answer is a lot. Like sushi. My point is sewing is a boss skill to have, and it’s easy to learn. Yes, it takes time, but really where else is your time going right now? Oh I’ma get real. Can you make it is on par here with knowing what it is worth.
5) Can it go with other pieces? Every goth needs a stronghold of basic clothing, garments that can be worn with literally anything and still look good. Which basics, however, is up to your personal style. For example, I don’t own any cardigans, like maybe one, but oh my god, do I have blazers and little black dresses to layer. (It’s ridiculous really, I don’t know what’s wrong with me…). My personal rule is don’t buy unless it can be worn with six other things. That might be a little extreme, but you understand. Look at what you’re buying and imagine yourself running late but you have to look good…where does this thing fall, towards the back like a “waiting for the right time” or towards the front like “I will be unstoppable and it must be worn often.”
*I see no problem with wearing something to threads, get your money’s worth. It’s clothes. It breaks my heart to hear “It’s such and such brand, I got it at a steal, but I never wore it and it’s falling apart on the hanger…” Fill that fabric with memories not moths or leave it wear it is. UGH! I mean most clothes won’t necessarily rot, but come on, wear them?
6) Only buy cute things. Takes a hell lot of work out of planning, because when everything is cute, you’ll always be cute (or whatever adjective you’re going for). I own no sweats, and maybe three hoodies, and even then they’re kind of fancy hoodies. Of course, not everyone is like me, but I see a lot of thrift hauls mention buying stuff to wear around the house. No, no, no, that’s what clothes become when they’ve lived out their worthiness to repair and only fit to wear around the house, you don’t buy it like that…I need a cigarette I’m so upset at the thought. Really this rule, is only buy things that truly fit your life and your needs. Don’t waste money on the trends (right, me saying that, scandal *eye roll*) or the “essentials”, put your money on you.
Those are the big rules. Little tips maybe, like if clothes hoarding is close to being your profession, set a budget for your clothing spending. Be practical. Don’t necessarily buy for seasons. It’s okay to appreciate something for what it is, but that does not mean you have to buy it. You know the little rules, that come back to haunt you when you break them because you may or may not have a problem.
Speaking of shopping though, wait till you see what I’ve found. Oooh, I’m going to let them have it. For more fashionable ways to live the strange life, take a moment to “Join the Exploration Party” at the top of this page. To see how I live it up daily, follow me on Facebook,Youtube,Tumblr,Instagram.
Until next time and hopefully sooner, rather than later,
Don’t be hungry for life. Be ravenous.