Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Get thee a spreadsheet!

The single most useful thing in my wardrobe is a spreadsheet. 'A spreadsheet?' I hear you say. 'That's not very vintage.' Well, you could get a proper old-school ledger book and keep a hard copy one. Whether you opt for digital or paper, though, and whether you're a gent or a lady, I promise you it will be fanstastically useful.



Round about this time last year, perhaps a little later, I was really, really fed up of my clothes. I didn't feel as though I liked the ones I had, and I felt as though I was wearing the same things all the time. I knew the first part of that was daft, because I'd loved the garments at first, so was boredom the true problem? As Jack Sparrow so rightly put it, the problem is not the problem, your attitude to the problem is the problem. And so I drew up a spreadsheet to see what I was actually wearing on a regular basis. All I did was boff in every morning what I was wearing. Top (or dress), bottom, legs, shoes, cardi/jumper, jewellery, shoes, bag, coat, perfume. You'll probably want different categories - I doubt as many people think as often about perfume as I do, and gents might want to look at their ties

It can be really easy to pick up the same things day-in, day-out, always to wear that cardigan with that dress, or that jacket with that shirt. The first thing the spreadsheet taught me was that I was actually wearing more things than I realised, but always in the same combinations. Tartan skirt, blue jumper. Long pink and grey skirt, grey longsleeved top, cranberry cardi. Once you know where your 'repeat offences' are, you can switch things round. Even if it's just the jewellery or tie, it can make a big difference.

When you've been keeping your spreadsheet a while, you can identify patterns, and that's really helpful for future purchases. I was surprised to realise the vintage items I use most often are practical, unflashy ones like my black day bag and tweed jacket. Cocktail frocks are all very well, but on a cost-per-use basis, that tweed jacket is my biggest bargain ever! As a result, instead of being lured by yet another lace dressy dress, I've bought another suit (because skirt AND jacket gives you lots of options), and been able to target my knitting so I'm making things that work in terms of colour and style with items I'm already wearing. I'm making far fewer impulse-driven bad vintage purchases, saving myself money and heartache. You might look at your spreadsheet and see you wear the same trouser and shirt combo all the time. Clearly you like it, but could you expand on it? Could a similar shirt give you more options with the trousers? Is there a jacket that would look great with both? This is why the spreadsheet is brilliant.

I don't have a massive amount of clothes, which is why you'll see me posting about wearing things I wore four years ago. In fact, today I'm wearing the same dress as I'm wearing in the photo at the top of the page. That photo was taken in 2012, and the dress was nowhere new then. Today, though, it's paired with a round, autumnal-coloured brooch, boxy 1960s bag and black wool bustle jacket. All hail the wardrobe-rejuvenating power of the spreadsheet!

16 comments :

  1. I love spreadsheets!!! That's a great photo of you at the top there, lovely ensemble. I did try keeping a note in a spreadsheet but found it difficult to keep up. What I do instead is upload a daily outfit when I remember to avenue57.com, which is an outfit sharing website for grown-up ladies, and then it's easy to scroll back and see what I've been wearing with what. I do have a new strategy as well that I'm implementing, but I will do a blog post on that after I've given it a few weeks. P x

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    1. Thank you! The bag needs a repair as the seude at the bottom disintegrated. Ironically (annoyingly!) it's also the most expensive one I ever bought. AUGH!

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  2. I have no idea what a spread sheet is, I wouldn't recognise one if it landed in my lap, but I know what you're saying! I have severe dyscalculia, too which doesn't help, the eyes just glaze over!
    Smashing photo, you look lovely. It sometimes takes a sudden switch of garments to realise how well something looks with something else it's never before been paired with.

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    1. I think people usually use them for doing sums. Mine's basically a huge grid in which I keep track of what I've been wearing. I like it because you can 'sort' the columns, so if I want to see how many times I've worn, say, each cardigan, it'll group them so I can compare.

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  3. That is a fantastic idea, even though I don't know how to do a spreadsheet either. I get so bored with my wardrobe too, and I think we do need to look at it from a different angle. I never seem to have enough skirts and trousers to go with the knitteds. Saying that, I did pick up 3 swing skirts in Sainsburys yesterday that fit on the waist! At last. Thanks for another thought provoking post.

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    1. I love my clothes now. I hated them so much last year, I was really fed up of all of them.

      Sainsbury's, eh? Interesting! Ours has lots of clothes in, but I've never bought any there.

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  4. What a great idea, I have been pondering my wardrobe of late and have been a little overwhelmed by the decisions I need to make to make it more functional and above all wearable. This technique would certainly make sorting it a lot simpler!

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    1. You'll probably find it really helps clarify what you need more of.

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  5. I post to the blog regularly enough that I am able to see patterns of what I wear, and how it has changed over time. Not quite as stark and to the point as a spreadsheet, but it does help. I have trouble with transitional clothing. This summer/autumn has been awful-I just want to dump all my clothes and start over. Perhaps I do need a spreadsheet after all.

    Like everyone else, I must chime in to say that is a breathtakingly beautiful outfit.

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    1. Thank you - it was for a steampunk festival some friends ran. I'm more dieselpunk than steam, which they're absolutely fine with. It's the sort of thing I wear to work, too.

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  6. That is actually a really awesome idea. I love making lists of things anyway, so keeping a log of all of the things that I'm wearing is right up my alley. You've got a great point that a lot of the reason why we tend to buy things is not because we need them, but because we're bored and they're pretty.
    Love that outfit, by the way. The accessories are really fun, particularly the hat and bag.
    Cheers,
    Jessica, cakesandcakesvintage.blogspot.com

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    1. The hat is a Frederic Fox - he had the Royal Warrant! - and I got it for a fiver. That was a good bargain. Sadly, the bag is one of the most expensive I've bought and the bottom gave out, the suede just crumbled. I really ought to fix it...

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  7. I like your idea, I can see that it would work to help you see more options in your wardrobe. I would be using a pen and a notebook but it would do the same job! I think bring able to target what to knit is especially helpful.

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    1. I do like being able to Sort the spreadsheet, as it makes it easy to see exactly how often I've worn particular things, but a pen and paper would definitely do the job. (And not get wiped in the event of a computer crash...)

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