Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Dream Style: Walking the Walk on the High Street

Image thanks to Muhammad

This post is part of The Dream Style Series.

I have mixed feelings about shopping on the high street. On the one hand, I think it’s a perilous activity, but on the other hand, it is an easy, affordable, tactile and instantly satisfying way to shop. Therefore, as a lowly student, I shouldn’t condemn it too hard, although (for the reasons I’ve given) it is a medium where you have to be stricter on yourself than any other, because over-spending is easy.

…see how undecided I am?

Like any other means of shopping, I think it’s about striking a balance; shopping solely on the high street won’t yield you a dream wardrobe, but it can act as an excellent supplement, particularly for those living cheaply.

And, like with all our dream style shopping habits, there are a few rules to follow:

Do…assess each spend individually. When I shop on the high street, I rarely feel guilty if I have made sure to answer these key questions:
1. If I do not buy this item, will I still be thinking about it in two weeks time?
2. Will it be an asset to me? Does it deserve to be in my wardrobe?
3. Does the quality reflect the price?
You might have other questions you want to ask also, like ‘can I afford it?’ Just be sure to avoid impulse buying, even if the items are returnable.

Don’t…take friends. High street shopping in packs has become a regular ritual for many, and whilst this can be a giggle every now and again, it is definitely not conducive to dream style. One honest and patient pal is Ok, but a group of ‘Oh, you have to buy that!’ buddies, who aren’t willing to wait around whilst you try on your eighth pair of skinny jeans, are not. Personally, I love shopping alone; it gives me time to really think about each individual spend, try on everything, and walk in and out of the same shops three or four times whilst I make up my mind (which I do a lot.)

Do…be aware when enough is enough. I find the rarer my high street excursions, the more I enjoy, appreciate and find them a valuable asset to my dream style. Shop on the high street too often and you’ll find yourself without the funds to undertake alternative shops, and laden with low quality, ‘of the moment’ goods that will not sustain a dream wardrobe.

Don’t…pay through the nose. You will rarely find great quality on the high street, so be sure not to pay for something you’re not getting; the first rule in buying anything! £30 on a t-shirt is too much if five or six wears will see it destined for rag status.

Do…have a plan. Even if it’s just a few rough notes, a theme, a key colour, or a magazine clipping; have an idea of what you want to walk away with or your indecisiveness will make you victim to a million and one marketing scams.

Don’t…spend what you don’t have. For some reason, shopping on the high street seems to suggest itself to many as an opportunity to buy completely beyond their means. Credit cards, store cards; bits of plastic that allow the mind to completely ignore the spend. At the start of your shopping excursion, take out the amount you are prepared to spend in cash, and leave the cards at home.

Do…go at the best times. Your favourite cheap as chips high street outlets will have certain days / times of day when they put out the best stock. Ask the staff for these times and then shop at 9am on a Wednesday rather than lunchtime on a Saturday to score the best bargains.

Don’t…feel pressured into wearing high street clothes. Just because they are the norm, doesn’t mean they are you. Be true to your own style at all costs.

Are you regularly found wandering the high street? How do you stop yourself going overboard? Tell all!


Casey said...

I have just started reading your blog recently, and went back to read through all the Dream Style installments thus far! I've really enjoyed this; just what I need to be a bit more selective with my wardrobe purchases and whittling things down. ;)

High Street shops used to be a big temptation for me, but over time I've found that the less often I visit them, the less inclined I am to make purchases. The most recent trip was to Forever 21, where I bought two pairs of sunglasses (definitely needed where I live). Everything just looked rather... cheap... to me, compared to what I can find elsewhere. Plus, I find it helpful to keep in mind some higher priced item I've been drooling over, as a way to stave off the cheap-thrills purchases! If I've got something bigger to save for (in this case, shoes), then I'm much less likely to buy a few, inexpensive items.

Keep up the posts!

Voila Megan said...

Casey! Thanks for reading and I couldn't agree more about saving yourself for higher-priced but better quality items, it's a habit that's worth getting into.

rosie said...

i make my mum keep my debit card, so i cant just go out and take out money whenever i want; i only have a proper good old shop about once a month, and sometimes i'll buy a few things here and there, but only if i need them :)

alexandraonline said...

I'm really enjoying the Dream Style series. You write in such a lovely and conversational manner, and your advice is rock solid and teeming with personal experience so I trust what you have to say. My project this summer is to reinvent my wardrobe and really find my "dream style." Thank you so much for providing such an excellent resource!

Anonymous said...

Can I ask a question? As a Canadian, I often hear the term "high street" used in various UK publications, but I don't really understand what it means. Is it essentially just "mass-market" stores? Or does it refer to stores that are on a city's main street (as opposed to being more hidden away, the way smaller boutiques tend to be)?

May sound silly, but this has been bugging me for ages!

Voila Megan said...

Rosie - Good idea to put someone else in charge of the cards, it makes you accountable for your spending.

Alexandra - Thanks lady! Let me know how your pursuit of dream style goes, I'd LOVE to hear about the results people are getting :)

Anon - Not silly at all, high street is a bit of a loose term, but I use it (and think it is mainly used) to mean the large mass-market stores that you find in a city's main shopping zones.

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