The Monster in the Wardrobe – part II

So you have taken your sword of knowledge and attacked the monster. You have decimated his habitat of unworn, unwanted and unsuitable clothes and refused to feed him with negative emotions.

You may be fortunate and find that you have successfully eradicated him completely. More likely he will still be there, cowering in a back corner, plotting how he will make a comeback.

Popular thinking says it takes five weeks to learn a new habit or to break an old one. This may be true for things we do every day, like brushing our teeth or having breakfast, but for things we don’t do every day, like buying presents, or shopping for clothes, it takes a lot longer; maybe even several years.

Unless you keep your wits about you, that monster is going to find himself with more clothes to live in and more feelings of anger,  guilt and insecurity over mistakes you’ve made.

Here are Mary’s three golden rules to avoid making those mistakes, so that your wardrobe will increasingly be a thing of joy and pleasure; a resource of power and confidence with no space for Monsters at all.


1. Give yourself Time – lots and lots of time. Or Be Prepared.

A few hours at least
A few hours at least

We’ve all been there: it’s Thursday lunchtime and you’ve got to have an outfit to wear for the function on Friday night. You’re desperate because you have nothing to wear – nothing; and  you will have to send apologies if you can’t find something in the next twenty minutes!

The problem is, that if you’re already here, it’s too late. Sorry – that wasn’t terribly helpful, was it? But it’s the truth. If you find yourself in that position just pray that a miracle will occur and that something perfect jumps off the rail and mugs you. Let’s be realistic here: the time to buy snowshoes is not when you open your front door and realise there’s three feet of snow outside. I have lost count of the number of times a client will be trying on a  beautiful outfit which is just perfect for her and she will say “No – I won’t buy it: I’ve got nowhere to wear it to.”  Has that been you? And when an event did come up, did you wish that you had that outfit in your wardrobe to wear?

So give yourself time to shop. Buy clothes that are perfect even if you don’t have a suitable occasion to wear them (that you know of).  But, a word of warning here, be careful with high fashion garments: you may have to ditch them unworn after a couple of years.

One can go the other extreme, of course. For instance, I have already bought my “mother of the bride” outfit, and my oldest daughter is only eleven! But it was there, it was perfect, it was in the charity shop and I couldn’t resist it.

Which brings me to my first exception, which is the impulse buy. Because many of you have told me that a recurring theme with your mistakes is that they were impulse buys, I will clarify. To me an impulse buy is when you are walking along somewhere, not thinking about buying clothes at all, and that absolutely perfect bag, pair of shoes or dress shrieks your name from the other side of the street, possibly through the pouring rain. You look closer, you try it on for size, it ticks all the boxes and really is perfect.What’s more, it’s the right price too! You can’t believe your luck as the shop assistant wraps it and bags it.  You hand over your credit card and walk away with the whole transaction having taken less than three minutes. Those kind of impulse buys are rarely regretted. Moreover, as you become more confident with your colours and start to really understand your own style, these serendipitous impulse buys will become more frequent.

2. Buy clothes only on their own merits

Accept nothing less than an 8 on your personal scale.
Accept nothing less than an 8 on your personal scale.

I guess we’ve all been guilty, at some time or another, of buying something because it went with something else. We may not have even liked the item particularly, it just meant that we could wear something in our wardrobe that was currently without a partner.

The problem with doing this is that, while that top goes with the skirt, does it really go with you? And, apart from the skirt, what else can you wear it with? The answer is, if it’s really yours, it will go with lots of other items in your wardrobe too.

So don’t  get left with a lot of “reserved neighbours” : clothes that hang side by side, yet never talk to each other or go out together. These clothes  make up boring and restricting outfits. Only buy it if it’s right for you, regardless of that lonely skirt which needs a friend.

3. the last thing you should ever look at….

Don't look at the price tags! (Or think of pink elephants)
Don’t look at the price tags! (Or think of pink elephants)

Yes – it’s difficult isn’t it? It’s what you’ve always done; you’ve looked at the price first to see if you can afford it.

Can you see that processing this information in advance of other considerations inevitably comprises rule number 2?  We end up coming home with an armful of clothes we would not normally give the time of day to just because “they were a bargain!”

It is a hard discipline to learn, but an important one. Make your decision to buy first and then look at the price. Learn to treat the sale rail as you would any other rail in the shop. If you would have bought it anyway at the original price and it’s been reduced, then that’s a real bargain. well done you for spotting it.

And if you fall in love with an item that turns out to be more than your entire grocery bill for the year then don’t be the victim who says “I can’t afford it.” Congratulate yourself on your good taste and say “That’s outside my budget.” That statement establishes you firmly as a responsible person who controls her finances and spending.

4 (you didn’t think I would stop at three, did you?) If you don’t love it, don’t buy it!

Yes, I love you! You make me feel beautiful/confident/professional/sexy and I must buy you now!

Yes, I love you! You make me feel beautiful/confident/professional/sexy and I must buy you now!

You must never again dishonour yourself with an “It’ll Do”. Because you know what? It never does.

If you follow these three (!) simple rules I promise you that the monster will be gone.  Banished. And he’ll never come back.

Bye Bye Monster
Bye Bye Monster



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