For the past couple of years, I have been trying hard to build a wardrobe built on classic, quality pieces that I can wear for years to come. So far, so good. I have been actively shunning H&M and Forever 21, as more often than not, the pieces I’ve bought at these two stores wash terribly and don’t last…but then Forever 21 debuted their Contemporary Line and I’ve found myself crossing the threshold of that teenybopper store more often.
Now, don’t get me wrong. When I want a fun outfit for a night on the town, or need something in a pinch that’s trendy, Zara, H&M and Forever 21 are usually my first stops, but I adhere to a set of rules when looking for outfits at these stores. For instance, I will probably be hitting up these stores to pick up some of the fall 2015 trends like one shoulder shirts, skinny scarves and Victorian dresses that I’m starting to see everywhere. Side note: I won’t be caught dead in a “dickie” – which are big this fall. I will file that tragic look under “Things I Don’t Understand” like Donald Trump’s hair and the appeal of the sugary disaster which is the Pumpkin Spice Latte.
So, I’m going to share with you my rules for building a wardrobe on a budget, especially when shopping at fast-fashion stores:
Buy items in neutral colours (black, white, grey, beige)
I absolutely love colour. Some of my favourite colours are emerald green, cobalt blue and fuchsia. My personal preference though is to buy brightly coloured clothing from brands I trust in natural fabrics such as silk, wool and linen.
More often than not, when I hit the fast fashion stores, I buy items in neutral colours only, and usually in black. Black hides a myriad of design flaws and usually always looks more expensive than, let’s say, a sad yellow dress which highlights all of the loose threads, bad seams, puckering, dinginess, etc.
Stay away from items with writing on them
I generally do not wear clothing, especially shirts, with writing on them. If a cute little tee has “Hottie” emblazoned on the front in red rhinestones, I won’t touch it with a ten-foot pole. Same goes for writing on the seat of pants. Hello! 2004 wants its pants back!
Try not to buy items with garish prints
Don’t get me wrong – I love prints! There are so many wonderful prints to choose from! Unfortunately, fast-fashion is generally made so poorly, that manufacturers do not take the time to make the clothing properly, and that includes matching up the prints. I see this all the time with cheaply made polka dot dresses or clothing made with fabrics with large patterns. Also, I’m sorry, but a blouse covered in hamburgers or marijuana leaves does not scream “classy” to me, but to each their own.
Stay away, far away, from shiny fabrics
As tempting as it is, do not buy cheap sequinned clothing. Beading and sewing sequins is an art – one that has yet to be perfected by fast-fashion retailers. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen sequined dresses at these inexpensive stores with hundreds of sequins missing, all over the floor below their display, or they are sewn so badly onto cheap, stretchy mesh fabric, that the dress becomes see-through in some spots and would make even the tallest, skinniest supermodel look trashy.
The same goes for satin or those terrible high-waisted skinny jeans in shiny fabric. Come on!
Try to buy items made with natural fibers
Ok – I’ll admit it. It’s hard to find clothing made of natural fibers at these types of stores, but they do exist if you search hard enough! Items made of cotton, linen, wool, silk, etc. just hold up better. You won’t have too worry to much about pilling, clothes becoming misshapen (generally wool and cashmere aren’t great from the less-expensive stores), colours fading and bad fit. Regarding fit, I feel that items made with natural fabrics fit better. Rayon and acrylic items tend to lose their shape, wash poorly and fall apart more quickly.
While in Toronto this weekend, I found a great little tweed minidress at H&M. It fits remarkably well, except for the arm holes which are too large. I bought the dress anyways as I felt that at $49.99, it looked much more expensive and I knew I could get a lot of wear out of it this fall/winter season. The $20 tailoring charge is worth it to me to make it look perfect.
If you see something you like that is inexpensive and looks great, but needs a little tailoring to perfect it, buy it and march it directly to the tailor shop! Tailoring is always worth it as great fit can make the most inexpensive clothing look wonderful. I have been known to tailor $10 tops if I feel it’s worth it!
What do you guys think? Any shopping tips to share? Anything you disagree with? Let me know in the comments!