Mindful shopping: 'Lockdown has given me a chance to re-evaluate my buying habits'

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Lockdown has given Louise Slyth the chance to re-evaluate some of the previously unchallenged habits in her shopping life


We are all due a Cinderella moment. For weeks during lockdown we endured fear, boredom, and frustration, cocooned in our loungewear. Then just as we started to emerge, butterfly-like, regional restrictions were put in place. This means that unless you want to dress to the nines for your daily walk or to collect your takeaway, the opportunity for glam moments are few and far between.

I’ve always seen fashion as a chance for self-expression. Curating outfits to showcase my creativity and personal style. It was a daily ritual that I treasured, and whilst I’ve tried not to let standards fall too low, I must confess that dressing for home has been a bit like a tree falling in a wood - if no-one sees me does it really matter?

Normally at this time of year I perform the bi-annual task of stowing away the previous seasons’ clothes into storage bags and pulling out my winter dresses and cosy jumpers. This year however, most of my summer gear is still packed away. I have not had a holiday this year - even the idea of a staycation seemed too risky for me, so all those lovely maxi dresses and silky skirts are still sitting there, waiting to meet their sartorial destiny.

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As I looked through my wardrobe it struck me how much I have. I am the queen of hyperbole, but I could possibly dress my entire street and still have items left over. I hate throwing things away and I also love to shop. I think a bit of retail therapy appeals to the ancient call of the hunter-gatherer in us. In the words of Carrie Bradshaw “shopping is my cardio”.

Shop mindfully

Lockdown has given everyone the chance to re-evaluate some of the previously unchallenged paradigms and habits in their lives. I’m not one to turn away from the opportunity for personal growth, but the thought of not shopping at all gives me palpitations. Being lucky enough to keep my job during this crisis, I’ve felt torn between two crushing moral responsibilities.

On the one hand, I wanted to make a few purchases to support local boutiques and keep our economy going. On the other, how could I enjoy a new handbag when other people might be struggling to pay their bills? I have thought long and hard about how to address this, and my plan is to shop mindfully.

I’ll be making sure that any new purchase blends with items I already have and fills an actual gap in my existing wardrobe. Fast fashion is definitely out, and sustainable style is in. I’ll be re-loving items from previous years and finding ways to keep the styling current. If I do need to buy something, it will only make it into my basket if I can see myself wearing it in 2021 and beyond. Any purchases will be considered, and I’ll be focusing on supporting local businesses and Irish designers where I can.

If I buy a new dress, it needs to work as well with heels and a leather jacket as with a pair of runners and a denim one. I’ll be stocking up on fine knits in berry and jewel shades to layer under last summer’s dresses and extend them into autumn. Those white boots I bought on a whim in January will be the perfect segue between seasons and will smarten up stretchy jeans and blazers.

The upside to my new mindful approach is that I should be able to afford a few investment pieces. For some time now, I have had my eye on a designer belt to elevate high street dresses and smarten up slouchy cardigans. I’m also saving for a pair of Jimmy Choos. Like Cinderella, I know that a fabulous pair of shoes can change your life.

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