How to shop smart and conquer fast fashion

Fast fashion is fun, but it also has its issues. But if you're on a budget and into style, it's hard to resist.

When you're trying to drink less, you tend to stay away from pubs. You might do the sameĀ if you're a 'social smoker' so you're not tempted to follow your friends out to the open-air beer garden. But what if you can't stop buying clothes? Do you just, like, not go outside? And do you avoid all social media in case ASOS is following you around? Well, it's home truth time. When you're a trend junkie, the best way to wean yourself off picking up bits and pieces here and there every second day is to know the facts.

High street fashion is a diluted version of high fashion; it always has been. You will have noticed, though, that in the past few years, shops have sales practically all year 'round. This is because social media and instant trend alerts from influential people and brands 'force' high street stores to produce new lines in much closer succession than before. Social media and the internet in general has changed the way luxury brands work, too. Their collections are pictured and commented on as soon as the first model walks the runway show. It's cool because it means we don't have to be sitting in the FROW to get to know the next season's new ideas, we can just watch Instagram live. But the style industry thrives on newness - if it's In, we want it. If it's cheap, we can get it. The wheel of fashion is spinning on full throttle - it may be time to get off.

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Fast fashion can be so disappointing. I bought so many nice things recently but so did half my office. We've practically had to set up a spreadsheet so that everyone gets a chance to wear it. But that's not the real issue on hand. It's sustainability, or the lack of, when it comes to the way the masses shop. I'm definitely not the only one who has promised themselves to buy 'investment' pieces rather than something that will only last the season. I had been putting off 'investing' because I mistakenly interpreted investment as being expensive. It doesn't have to be. My dad has a jacket from C&A he bought in the eighties that my brother wears today. I am wearing a pair of boots that I bought in River Island ten years ago that I am sure I'll still be wearing in many years to come.

So my first tip for shopping smartly is to think smart.

(Finally) Create a Capsule Wardrobe

You don't need to sacrifice your personal style by curating a wardrobe of key pieces. In fact, by really looking at your wardrobe and figuring out what you want to toss and keep, you're cementing your personal style. My advice is to divide your wardrobe into staples you know you'll always wear, for example, a pair of jeans, a pair of black pants, a great blazer, etc., etc.

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When the new season's styles start rolling in, think about what will fit in with the rest of your wardrobe. But, don't be afraid to treat yourself, either. One great dress might last for many seasons ahead.

Budget

It's boring, but if you're a serial shopper like I am, it may be time to shock yourself into spending less. In the same way that a smoker might add up how much the aul cancer sticks is costing them, try to work out what your weekly jaunt through the high street is doing to your bank balance. Maybe designate a certain amount to what you can spend on clothes (and shoes and accessories...) per month - and stick to it. It will make you more conscious of your choices, and you'll end up only purchasing things that you really like. BONUS - you'll save loads of money, too.

You could also put aside a fund for something really special like a designer bag. If that's the only thing you buy for a while, it will feel really special when it's finally yours.

Take Up A Hobby

AKA distract yourself. I feel like I have let myself down recently by not really having a life, to be honest. I work, I go home and watch crap on TV, I read some of my book (which is progress), I go to sleep and repeat the cycle over again the next day. On the weekend, if I'm not at a hen party or a wedding, I hit the shops. I used to sing in a choir. I used to go for hikes. Something changed and I lost interest in my interests. My only pastime was buying clothes I didn't need.

Of course, it's more than ok to have an interest in style and fashion. I won't give that up, because it's a genuine interest of mine. But doing something else might just encourage a little less of the shopping till dropping.

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We could all do with some mindfulness and everyone needs to do some form of exercise. When you have more interests, you have less time to spend on fast fashion and you have a better chance of really forging your personal style.

Are you guilty of overconsumption? What methods have you adopted to curtail your fast fashion spending?

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