Tuesday, December 18, 2012

What I Bought in 2012: Ready to Wear

Way back in January, I decided to take a more ethical approach to my wardrobe.  I declared that I would avoid the High Street and either: make my own, shop from an ethical source, or do without.
So how has it gone?
Let's start with the hard figures.  Despite taking this pledge, I managed to spend £200 on Ready-To-Wear in 2012.

On what?

3 scarves, all from Uniqlo (2 guest-designed by Orla Kiely, 1 by Laura Ashley) £30
1 cardigan, from Maison Scotch, on sale (the price ticket said it was £140 originally) £60
1 organic denim shirt, from Howies but second-hand from ebay, £10
1 cotton jersey dress, Orla Kiely for Uniqlo, £20
1 pair of shoes, Fly London black suede flatform loafers, £80

All but one of the scarves is in regular rotation.  It is a bright lime green which doesn't quite match the other greens in my wardrobe.  I might re-sell it on ebay (the Orla Kiely label makes this possible).  I do not regret buying the other 2 as they lift my outfit on many a grey day and keep the draughts off my neck in the office.  I am still conflicted about the ethics of buying from Uniqlo, whose CSR pages confuse me more than they enlighten me, but I knew that Orla K had worked with People Tree, which suggests to me that she is ethically-minded.  But these are just excuses for woolly-mindedness.
Could do better, Roo. 

The cardigan... oh good god the cardigan of ethical screwed-upness!  I wear it almost every work day and some weekends - I'm not kidding!  It is warm and soft and comfortable but it is getting rather bobbley and shapeless after 4 months.  Thank goodness I didn't pay full price.  But am I expecting too much?  It has been worn on upwards of 80 occasions (assuming approx 5 wears a week over 4 months).  I haven't yet dared to wash it (um, yes I admit it might be time to think about that!)  If I had more than one go-to cardi, they would last longer.  That's obvious.

The denim shirt.  I love this!  I wear it most weekends, layered up over jeans or shorts and tights, over tees and under my cardi.  It is an ethical brand, beautiful quality and was worth every penny.  GOLD STAR!

The Orla Kiely dress.  I bought it in September and like the denim shirt, it is homewear staple.  It goes on over jeans, under the denim shirt and the ethical cardi and a warm scarf / shawl... and I feel like the epitomy of boho chic when I wear it, which is pretty good going for "at home" wear!  Ethics? As above under "scarves".

And the shoes?  Oh dear, I was afraid you would ask.  They are too big.  I wear them maybe once a fortnight and bow my head in shame as I hear the echo of my feet slapping along the corridor.  I bought the smallest size (EU 37) and they ought to fit, but even with thick hand-knitted socks they slip off.  And yet... they look funky (IMO) and are really comfortable.  So I am persevering and try to walk slowly down the Corridor of Power so as not to attract too much attention to my flipper feet.  Sigh.  And ethics?  I have no idea.  I have not stopped to consider whether there are affordable ethical shoemakers out there.  There's a confession for you!
So what does all this mean?

That even given an outrageous level of circumspection before a purchase, I made some mistakes this year.
Wearing everything I bought this year - not recommended!

Fewer purchases make big mistakes feel worse! 
The shoes were the biggest purchase and the biggest regret.  I should have sent them back when they arrived, but I didn't.

I am going to follow this post up with an analysis of what I have made and worn this year and whether there are any items I have made but never worn.  I already know the answer to that: YES!

But more to the point - do my clothes match my lifestyle?
Does my wardrobe work?
And if not... do I need to change my clothes... or my lifestyle?  Whoah!


Anna said...

have you tried putting a couple of pairs of thick insoles in the shoes to see if that makes them fit better? I'm a half size in most shoes but very few places seem to sell halves any more so I end up with all my shoes being too big or too small, the fact that I buy most of them from Ebay for about £5 makes me mind less but it is really annoying and pairs that do fit properly get worn to death!

agirlinwinter said...

If you some insoles in the shoes they might fit better? Love the Orla Kiely scarves. I wanted to get some but I was too late to the party (as always) and it looks like they've sold out now.

clb said...

Re shoes: cut the sponge part off a couple of those sponge scourers used for washing-up, and stuff them in the toes of your shoes. Worked for me.

I somehow managed to buy five of those scarves. *guiltguilt*

didyoumakethat said...

I have that Uniqlo dress and another one - I wear them constantly. I can tell you for nothing that the women in publishing I know are mad for those Orla scarves at Uniqlo, chasing down the last few ones in the shops. You could sell it for a pretty penny on Ebay, no problem. If you do want another cardigan staple, I'd advise watching what cashmere goodies come up in the Uniqlo sale. I bought a grey cashmere cardie from them in last year's sale and it has been worn constantly. Worth every penny. I think you can afford to be a bit kind to yourself. You can't be a me-made or ethical saint 365 days of the year and you do have to buy shoes!

Marie said...

Don't be so hard on yourself Roo! Most of your purchases were spot on and we all make mistakes. At least you limited the amount of things you bought and the money you spent...I literally shudder to think about what I've spent this year...it's not even remotely funny! I look forward to your subsequent posts analysing all of this though, I find it so interesting!

Tamsin said...

I find that while I love Fly shoes, they all slip off my feet unless they have a particular type of strap or are a boot... That Orla Kely dress looks fab.

Sølvi said...

I think you did good! Buying shoes is not easy. You never really know if they are going to fit before you´ve worn them at least a couple of times, and then it´s too late to return them.

Congratulations on an ethically aware year of shopping! I find that even though one slips once or twice, it´s the whole idea of thinking before buying that is of essence. So again: Well done! :-)

Sherral said...

Try shoving some tissues into the toes of your shoes- I've had good luck with this technique in the past!

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Lynne said...

I'm really impressed at how little you have bought, I couldn't do that in a million years!

Katy said...

I was kind of hoping that you'd done the fly shoes research to tell me that because they are made in portugal and are made from lovely leather they are super ethical. In any case you've not disproved that theory so I'll continue on in ignorance as they are my go to shoe company for dumpy wide hobbit like feet. But yes sizing can definitely be a bit odd. I have similar wedges that I need thick tights or socks to wear but boots in the same size which fit like a dream. I buy them from Javari where the ethics are probably really wack, being part of amazon. As you say, must try harder!