WE’VE all been guilty of scooping up an unsuitable purchase (fluffy handbag, anyone?) in the heat of an ‘everything must go’ sales frenzy but in the age of conscious consumerism, buying things we don’t really need is falling out of favour. Because not only is over-shopping bad for our wallets, it’s also very bad for the environment. According to the Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP), the value of unused clothing in our wardrobes is around £30 billion, and another £140 million worth goes to landfill each year. So are the post-Christmas sales this year completely off the cards?
Not quite, says Anna Newton, whose new book An Edited Life: Simple Steps To Streamlining Your Life At Work And At Home is out in January. She believes that you don’t need to skip the sales entirely but you do need to be prepared.
‘I’m not anti-sales but you need a list,’ she explains. ‘Go through your wardrobe beforehand and work out what you genuinely need. It’s not really the time to experiment and buy a floor-length sequin dress -stick to real staples like shoes and coats. Hopefully you’ll find a real bargain investment.’
What’s more, unless you have SAS-level endurance skills, Anna (pictured above) suggests it might be best to give the physical shops a miss come sales time.
‘Trying on at home is much better than in a hot, clammy changing cubicle,’ she says. ‘You can move around, sit down, bend over and try it with other things in your wardrobe to ensure it’s a versatile piece you’ll get plenty of wear out of.’
Anna, who has more than 400k followers on Instagram, understands that social media plays a role in encouraging fast fashion and thoughtless sales spending. ‘When I was growing up we had the Next catalogue and J-17 magazine,’ she says. ‘Now we have so much access to all these glamorous people on Instagram, wearing this gorgeous clothing.’
Nevertheless, she explains that we can use social media to our advantage, employing Pinterest boards or the saved function on Instagram to preemptively stake out our sales shopping, like a sleepy lion with one eye on its prey.
‘If you make digital mood boards, you can really see what you gravitate towards,’ she says. ‘There’s a jumpsuit I’ve saved three separate times. If it goes in the sale, perhaps it’s meant to be.’
Anna advocates a capsule wardrobe for clothes. ‘I love black, tan, navy, grey and leopard print,’ she says. ‘I’m into that whole Scandi style of dressing.’
The capsule wardrobe was also favoured by Barack Obama when he was US president. ‘You’ll see I wear only grey or blue suits,’ Obama told Vanity Fair. ‘I’m trying to pare down decisions. I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing because I have too many other decisions to make.’
When everything matches, it’s easy to put outfits together, it saves time and you’ll never buy anything that doesn’t go. Anna also suggests packing away the clothes you aren’t currently wearing so you can see things in your wardrobe properly. Doing this before you let yourself loose on the sales will save you a huge amount of time and money.
‘We’re all going to slip up now and again,’ says Anna, ‘but I do find that having this capsule wardrobe philosophy and only really allowing myself to shop about four times a year has helped to cut back on my spending and my scrolling. Remember, the ultimate aim is to create more time and space in your life, to do what makes you happy.’
An Edited Life: Simple Steps To Streamlining Your Life, At Work And At Home (Quadrille) is out on January 10