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A former Vogue editor on the fashion items that are a waste of money

WORDS BY KIRSTIE CLEMENTS

An exclusive extract from former Vogue Australia editor Kirstie Clement’s new book, Why Did I Buy That?.

Like every woman I know, I have been steered in the wrong direction by the general seasonal hysteria and have spent many hard-earned dollars on items that were not worth the investment.

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I’ve learnt by trial and error that not everything in a wardrobe needs to be costly. In fact, you can look a million dollars on a budget. Here’s what not to spend money on.

Cheap jewellery

A stylist friend mentioned she’d been working with lots of cheap, chain store jewellery on a shoot. ‘It was literally falling to pieces in my hands as I unpacked it and moved it from the table to the model’s neck,’ she lamented. This is a terrible waste of resources, for so many reasons.

One missing diamante and your $60 necklace becomes little more than landfill in a second. One or two pieces of handmade or investment jewellery will go much further and become a very personal signature, even if it’s just a simple pair of silver hoop earrings, pearl studs or a gold locket.

Expensive white or cream silk shirts

Let me break this down, because a white shirt is a staple in every wardrobe. A white linen or cotton shirt is fine – they’re machine washable and bleach nicely – but silk, forget it. I know it’s a thing of beauty, but you will spill something indelible on it before 11am, no question.

Inexplicable yellow stains will quickly appear under the arms and around the collar, even if the blouse is just sitting in the wardrobe. Save yourself the inevitable and expensive dry-cleaning bills and buy it in a more practical colour.

Designer jeans

I don’t really buy into the concept of expensive designer jeans. Jeans should be chosen for fit rather than fashionability. If they look good on you, who cares what the label is?

My favourite low-cost denim is dark blue from Uniqlo (the Japanese are masters with denim: they put in just enough stretch without them becoming the dreaded ‘jegging’). Women should try on ‘men’s’ jeans too, and vice versa, for extra options. There is no reason to be gender-specific or brand snobbish.

 

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Top-to-toe trends that don’t suit you

A more cost-effective way to shop is to spend money on single pieces that you really love and will want to pull out time and time again. The wonderful designer at Gucci, Alessandro Michele, has performed a sterling job using this philosophy, creating crazy, opulent separates that can be worn all together, or bought as just one delightful signature item.

They already have a whiff of vintage, so in that sense they are timeless, way beyond seasonal trends. A patterned silk coat, an embroidered bomber jacket, a gold loafer, a frothy printed blouse – they all become personal statements that you can wear and enjoy for decades.

Pricey lipstick

Yes, there is something highly satisfying about the look and smell of an expensive lipstick and the click of a quality case closing, but, once lipstick is applied, who would know the brand? I chased a woman down in a restaurant once after admiring her gorgeous deep wine lipstick and she admitted it was a discontinued colour by Maybelline she had found on a sale table. I then raided Priceline and bought every one they had left in that shade, so I’m now sorted until 2027.

Something you’re only going to wear once

At one time or another we all have to buy something specific, perhaps a formal dress or a suit for a wedding, black tie event or ceremony. But don’t then let it hang in the cupboard gathering dust – wear it out, literally. If it’s a long dress, wear it later with sneakers and a leather jacket; break up the corporate suit and wear the jacket with shorts, the pants with a silk blouse.

Don’t save clothes for ‘best’; aim for best every day. Saving things for best is like your parents keeping the good silverware in the cupboard for visitors, or saving the beautiful baby clothes in the drawer while the child grows out of them. What is ‘best’ anyway? Wear a tiara to the shops if you want.

This is an excerpt from Why Did I Buy That? by Kirstie Clements. Available at Murdoch Books, RRP $32.99.

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