Parisian style, pauper’s budget

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If looking chic is your aim,  it can be helpful to bear in mind former Chanel model Ines de la Fressange’s advice. “When you get dressed, “ she says, “tell a story”. Your aim is to put together a simple, congruent outfit that is fit for purpose while presenting you well to the outside world. Picking up the kids from school? Supermum story. Try clean jeans, walking shoes in good leather, a simple t-shirt, your merino jumper and a large, simple handbag with things like wet wipes and snacks inside. Meeting someone about a work matter? Woman of business story. Try one of your smarter skirts, boots with a medium heel, opaque tights, a simple blouse, your jacket and a small bag. Travelling? Exotic jetsetter story. Try a pair of your smarter trousers, plain leather walking shoes, a long sleeved t-shirt, some beads and your good coat, and see you much more respectfully people treat you than if you turned up in a tatty pair of jeggings (unless you are a supermodel, of course). That would be Look At Me For An Example Of British Defeatism story. Sorry, but it’s true.

I’ll talk more in later posts about clothes care in more detail, but it makes sense to steer clear of dry clean only clothes where possible (although many can be carefully hand washed if you are prepared to take the risk), as these will end up costing too much in maintenance in the medium to long term. It also makes sense to check the quality of a fabric when you are buying clothes. It is perfectly acceptable to rumple something in your hands to see whether it crumples, as that will give you a good indication of whether you are likely to look as though you have slept in an outfit after half an hour of wearing it. While you are about it, check all the seams to make sure they are properly stitched, the buttons to check they are secure, and the zips to make sure they work well. Reject any garment you are not completely sure about.

In terms of planning, put yourself on mailing lists so that you know when sales start (but only go when you have something specific to buy). Shop in high income areas, particularly when choosing charity shops to frequent. Try to get a sense of the rhythm of the week and year in your favourite retailers. For example, do they tend to discount things on a particular day? When do they get their main stock deliveries? What time of year do they have in-between sales? Speaking of sales, use your credit card if you can to benefit from the purchase protection it will bring you, if the goods prove to be faulty and you don’t want a major small claims court battle on your hands (but remember dutifully to pay your credit card bill off straight away every month).

You will know you have got all this grooming and fashion business right when you wear your clothes rather than your clothes wearing you, when you can get dressed in about five minutes without fretting and trying out different outfits, and when you can go away for a few days with a few small things you love tucked into a modest little case. Somehow life will feel lighter, more straightforward, and you will be able to start thinking about developing other aspects of your home and personal life so you are happier and more fulfilled. Which is the point of the exercise.

For advice about putting existing clothes together in a new and exciting way, try this blog:

http://www.puttingmetogether.com

Image: graur codrin / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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