Is Quality Better Than Quantity When It Comes To Clothes?

I have a wardrobe, a chest of drawers, a stand-alone rail and a number of plastic bags filled to bursting with clothes. Clothes of varying quality, but most of them languishing quite near the bottom of the sartorial hierarchy. Just a few years ago this wouldn’t have struck me as anything even vaguely resembling a problem. What’s wrong with having loads of clothes? What’s wrong with everything being cheap, mass produced, and shoddily made? As long as it’s fun and didn’t cost the earth, I want it all and I want it right now.

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I’ve always been keen on second hand clothes shopping. Yet, it’s only ever been as a way of supplementing the clothes I bought from Primark, New Look, H&M and so on, or as just another way of procuring more clothes which I would never wear and would take up valuable space. There was no epiphany. I’m not sure when I stopped buying so many clothes, and I don’t know when I realised that I was buying less clothes. Now I have come to a point where I am making an effort to follow the little motto I keep reading everywhere:

Buy less, buy better

(I have to admit that this phrase annoys me as much as it interests me. It seems similar to everyone going mad and writing ‘keep calm and carry on’ on everything without really understanding or agreeing with the sentiment. So that may hopefully be the last time I write that precise phrase.)

This is a concept that was genuinely alien to me up until maybe a year ago. Why would I buy one thing when I could buy lots of things? Why would I not buy a dress that was £1.50, regardless of how it fit or what the material was like? It’s still not something I can entirely grasp, as I am stingy at heart and would always rather buy the £19 jeans and worry about replacing them in a few months time than buy the £70 jeans in the hope that they will last a few years. Spending money – large amounts of money – on clothes is not something I am fond of doing, and I get a huge amount of pleasure from ‘nabbing a bargain’, to co-opt tacky magazine speak.

During a moment of madness the other day, I went through my wardrobe and stuffed a variety of things into plastic bags. Things that are too small, too big, unflattering, plain horrible. Things that I bought because they were ‘fun’ and have never worn, and things I wore for a month straight when I was 17 and have never touched since. Into a bag went all these things, and from there they went to the Sue Ryder Care charity shop. I went in with a bag of stuff that I didn’t want and didn’t wear, and then I ended up leaving with a cardigan. Just one cardigan, that appears to be well made, in a classic print, and a flattering versatile shape. I didn’t leave with a polka dot blouse that was a size too small, or a pair of jeans that were too short. Just one item, because I really liked it and knew I would wear it.

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It’s a work in progress, of course, and I’m not likely to give up shopping or frivolous things any time soon. I guess my mission at the moment is to make my wardrobe one defined by quality (a subjective term here) rather than quantity.

The Perfect Travelling Outfit

When people talk about being comfortable during a flight, I’m sure that they’re talking about long haul flights. Or at least any flight over 5 hours. Me, I find flying such a generally uncomfortable experience – especially on the budget airlines that cheapskates like myself tend to patronise – that I’m currently trying to figure out what to wear for optimum comfort on a flight that lasts all of 2 hours and 15 minutes.

Having been on far fewer plane journeys than perhaps an average 21 year old has, I still find the idea of air travel quite thrilling and novel, but even the idea that I’ll actually be flying, like through the air (this is my general thought process aboard a plane) doesn’t stop me from feeling highly uncomfortable. I’m 5’11”, for crying out loud, and it’s unlikely that Ryanair will ever provide me with enough leg room. (And yes, I have in fact realised what a con Ryanair is and half-heartedly vowed to avoid using them, but they were the only flights I could get direct to Bratislava.) Everything I’ve worn to travel in so far has proved to be annoying and uncomfortable in one way or another: jeans that are too tight, leggings that have shoddy elastic in the waistband, a dress which rode up revealing my backside to the entire cabin when I stood up to get something from my bag.

Basically I need to look smart – if I could travel in my pyjamas, I most certainly would – but also want to be able to sit happily and comfortably on trains and planes, breathe, possibly eat, and attempt to relax.

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This isn’t the exact same outfit I’ll be wearing but that’s the general concept. (What do you mean, a Kindle isn’t part of an outfit? Be quiet.) I think the best way round the ‘jeans are uncomfortable, leggings are uncomfortable, short dresses flash my arse’ conundrum would be to wear a maxi dress. Flat shoes are a definite, as I’m likely to stand in queues at the airport, and if I wear my winter boots then I won’t have to worry about fitting them in my suitcase. I wear big pashmina scarves quite often anyway, but I think they’re essential on planes as they will double as a blanket in case I want to have a little sleep – and I must admit I’ve simply wrapped it round my face before when the sight of screaming children running wild has got a bit too much for me. Last but not least, I will be sure to wear glasses and not contact lenses, as my eyes get very dry and itchy. I got new glasses and they’re a bit like the ones in the picture – geeky plastic frames and everything.

What’s your go-to plane outfit?

Capsule Wardrobe

It just occurred to me – I’ve accidentally curated a capsule wardrobe. I was never really sure how this capsule wardrobe malarkey worked, and couldn’t imagine rotating a few of the same items without getting incredibly bored and wearing the same outfit over and over again.

Well, what I’ve been doing lately is wearing the same outfit all the time, with a few small changes, and not getting too bored. This is a capsule wardrobe that has come into being because of laziness and a lack of creativity.

If you want to force yourself into whittling down your clothes and figuring out which are the essentials, imagine having to pack a very small bag with only 15 minutes notice. You’re going away for about a week, so you’ll need a few different outfits. What would you pack? Here’s what I would pack.

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I found a plain white woollen jumper in an Oxfam shop. When I parted with a fiver for it, I never dreamed quite how much wear I’d get out of it. It goes with everything and it’s easy to throw on top of an outfit for an extra layer.

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These green jeans adorn my limbs numerous times a week. I’ve just bought an indigo blue pair which I feel will be just as ubiquitous in my daily wear.

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I don’t know where this jacket came from. I know I didn’t buy it from a shop. I have a feeling that I just discovered it in the house. I don’t know whose it was before it was mine. But now it’s mine and I wear it with everything. (I really mean everything.)

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Everyone needs a decent selection of tshirts, vests, cardigans, leggings, tights and so on. I’m of the opinion that there is no need to spend extortionate amounts of money, and I recommend H&M, Dorothy Perkins, and Primark – in that order. I do not recommend Topshop.

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I’m not the kind of person who can wear a jumper and jeans and call that an outfit. I’m insanely jealous of the people that can. Some women throw on some well fitting jeans and a plain tshirt and they look drop dead gorgeous. I do not. I need some accessorising. Scarves and jewellery galore!

One thing I haven’t got right yet is the footwear. Shoes are always an afterthought, and they’re usually scuffed and stained and inappropriate for the weather. Show me your capsule wardrobe/tell me about it!

What Emily Wore Next

New Look trousers, Dorothy Perkins vest, vintage cardiganF&F jumper, H&M dressVintage denim shirt, vintage scarf, New Look trousers, TK Maxx flats, vintage bag

One of the reasons that I am not a fashion blogger – and trust me, there are many – is that I tend to wear the same things over and over and over again. I think I dress pretty well*, but I generally find clothes that I love and then wear them until they fall apart or I get sick of the sight of them. I have been wearing this denim shirt almost constantly since I bought it a couple of months ago. When I put it in the wash, I get separation anxiety. I think I’m getting similarly attached to these yellow trousers. So if I were to post pictures of my outfits every day, that would get pretty boring eventually.

‘Yes, here’s the same outfit I wore two days ago, with different shoes and a different scarf.’ ‘Today my denim shirt is in the wash so I feel bereft and have swaddled myself in blankets instead.’ ‘Look, here I am with the yellow trousers again.’

Then there’s the fact that some days I barely get changed out of my pyjamas. Nobody needs to see a picture of that.

* While this is up for debate, I don’t actually care if you don’t think I dress well.

Signature Style

I don’t really have a signature style. My dress sense is all over the place. I can’t decide if I’m girly or tomboyish or elegant or punky. That, I suppose, is the beauty of being able to wear what you want: you can be any or all or none of these things, depending on how you feel that day.

Despite this lack of a particular style, if you know me well I could probably send you into a clothes shop and you would be able to find something I’ll like. To do this there are 3 things you would need to keep a lookout for.

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Stripes. Any colour combination will suffice, but I have a real affinity for blue and white. Navy and cream are also acceptable. I don’t know what it is that I find so aesthetically pleasing about striped clothes. They’re meant to be very slimming and flattering, and while this is not the reason I wear them, it helps.

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Yellow. It’s ridiculous how often I wear yellow. I have three yellow handbags and a yellow car. My graduation dress was yellow. I’m wearing mustard yellow trousers right now. I still haven’t decided if it actually suits me yet, but it’s not as though that would stop me.

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Polka dots. Alright, so one of the shirts in that photo doesn’t actually have dots, as they’re actually squares. Still, it’s the same concept. I find the look of polka dotted clothes so fun and charming, especially on big skirts that fly out when you twirl around.

How would you describe your signature style? Do you think you have one?

Springtime.

How sick, on a scale of 1-10, are you of hearing and reading the words ‘Spring has sprung’? I’m pretty bleedin’ tired of it, though I now understand that coming up with a snappy title for a spring-related post or email is not easy and not fun.

From a materialistic fashiony perspective, the onset of spring does not fill me with quite the joy that is rippling through fashion blogs. I’ve mentioned before how I feel most comfortable and stylish when I’m wrapped up in cardigans, boots and scarves. Most likely with a woolly hat atop my head and obnoxiously bright pink leather gloves on my hands.

The thought of taking off the oversized stripy jumper that has seen me through many a chilly day and many a hangover is utterly terrifying to me right now. Yet the weather outside the window is definitely taking a turn for the sunnier and brighter. I’m not a total killjoy: spring is beautiful, warm weather is glorious, and clothes that aren’t made of wool are very dashing indeed. I just need a little time to get my head around this whole ‘not wearing five layers at once’ thing. To help me get into the swing of things, I have rejigged my wardrobe and drawers so that the dresses, shorts and sheer blouses are within easy reach, and the winter standbys are packed away. I also turned to Polyvore for a bit of inspiration.

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Ugly Clothes

After reading Lizzy’s ‘bad blogger’ post the other day I got to thinking about which blogger stereotypes I embody and which I oppose. I agree with her post entirely – what is it about macarons, Jeffrey Campbell shoes, Starbucks and ombre hair that gets everyone so hot under the collar? It will be a cold day in hell when you see me tottering down the street on my Litas with two-tone hair, a mocha latte skinny frappucino in my hand, nibbling a macaron.

There are a few blogger stereotypes that I can identify with, though. One of them is having a penchant for ugly clothes. You know when you see someone’s outfit post and despite the fact that their frock is devastatingly hideous, they look fantastic in it. I like those kind of ugly clothes. Bonus points for calling it vintage when the description ‘second hand’ might be more apt.

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Now that – that is just ugly. Amusing, but altogether unwearable and unpleasant.

Ugly vintage clothes blogger stereotypes

Ugly vintage clothes

These are the kind of ugly clothes I’m talking about. Garish prints and unflattering shapes. Something your gran might try to borrow from you. My eye is naturally drawn to anything with a pattern, the louder the better. I’m imagining teaming the shirt with purple denim shorts and some obnoxious oversized earrings. The skirt is destined to be worn in warm weather, high on the waist, paired with a plain vest, a denim jacket and gladiator sandals.

Shirt, Age UK, £2.49 / Skirt, Sue Ryder Care, £3.50

  • Can you identify with any blogger stereotypes? Which ones leave you baffled?
  • What are your feelings on ‘ugly clothes’?

* Intentional two-tone hair, that is. I quite often sport very impressive regrowth because I am just too much of a cheapskate to pay to get my hair dyed as often as is necessary. I’m not sure if mousy brown and unnatural red are very popular ombre colours.

(I wish I could blame my broken camera for these awful pictures, though I feel like I can only really blame myself because I’m too lazy to take it in to the shop to be fixed. One day I might include these clothes in outfit posts – not together – taken outside in natural light and all that jazz.)

Working 9 To 5: What (I Wish) I Wore

Every time I send off a wildly ambitious job application, I imagine myself swanning around a swanky office dressed in a beautifully tailored power suit, with killer heels and maybe even a briefcase.

I’m sure anyone who knows even a little bit about me knows that this is unlikely to ever happen. Sure, I can scrub up alright, but heels in the daytime are out of the question for me. Unless I magically become a few inches shorter and a lot more coordinated and graceful.

I currently do not have a job that requires me to wear anything classier than a monogrammed polo shirt. Here is a collection of wildly inappropriate things that I would wear in this dream office. (In this dream office, my dream job is something really exciting and cool. It’s probably something to do with books and/or charity. Maybe I’m an editor of some kind. Not for a fashion magazine, though. As much as I dream of being Wilhelmina Slater, all is not forgiven yet.)

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Maybe this is what I’d wear… Or maybe having a grown up’s job would stop me from dressing like a clown. We’ll just have to wait and see, as my dream career is not yet forthcoming.

What’s in your (real or imaginary) work wardrobe?

What I Wore

I love fashion bloggers. Seriously, you ladies are awesome. I’ve given up magazines, but I still need to look at beautiful clothes every now and again. Some days I hate every single item of clothing in my (jam packed) wardrobe. On days like this, a fashion blog is far more useful as inspiration than a magazine could ever be. I don’t need to see somebody wearing a dress that cost a thousand pounds, styled to within an inch of their life and laid on an exotic beach somewhere. That does not help me put together a passable outfit. I want to see somebody wearing a dress from Primark with a coat from a charity shop and looking just as amazing as the model in the magazine, even if they are just heading to uni or going out for lunch.

I don’t do outfit posts myself very often, even though I love seeing them on other blogs. I feel incredibly awkward taking pictures of myself, and quite frankly, some days all I wear are pyjamas and my work clothes which, trust me, are not very exciting. When Rich comes to visit, this means that I wear proper outfits and have somebody willing to take my picture. It also means that we go for walks around my village and so I have a nice backdrop  to pose in front of. Here are two outfits I donned in the past few days. january15th

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The rules of my ‘style’ (if you can call it that) are 1. colour is your friend 2. jeans are not. I started a WIWT account: Emdawg. The chances of me posting a photo there every day are… well, just wait and see if hell freezes over. Still, doing one or two a week will make me feel that I have to look presentable more often, which can only be a good thing.

How do you feel about outfit posts? They’re unlikely to become the focus of What Emily Did Next, as I actually quite like my little blog the way it is – a general hodgepodge of my life.

How would you sum up your style in two rules?

You’re So Vain

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I just wanted to show off my new coat. It was an absolute bargain at £12, found in a Mind charity shop. I was really unsure of it but after an overbearing sales assistant repeatedly told me how amazing I looked in it, I decided I had to buy it. At home I realised that the addition of a thin brown belt improved it immeasurably (read: made me look less like a bag lady), and now I am in love. The material is lovely and such good quality. Whoever had this coat either never wore it or took impeccably good care of it! The other day I spied a fancy fur collar in Dorothy Perkins and knew it was the perfect companion. Excuse my ridiculous face in the second photo. Believe it or not I’m not pulling it on purpose, apparently my face naturally falls into a ridiculous pout like that.

Since I’m already being vain, here I am Instagram-style.

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