Wednesday, 13 January 2016

2015 Wardrobe Review

Following on with my post about taking stock in January, I set aside some time over the weekend to do a stock-take in my wardrobe.  It involves reviewing what I've bought over the past year, whether that was a good investment or not, and then coming up with a buying (or refraining from buying...) plan for the coming year.  If I don't do this, there's a good chance I'll fall astray and end up failing to spend my money on experiences, rather than clothes.  That theory didn't get off to the best start, as I did splurge in the sales prior to the stock-take, but as with everything in life, you can only start from where you are.

I bought a lot of things off Ebay in 2015, and for the most part it was successful, though it's always a lottery really.  The one downfall seemed to have been my attempt at buying usually expensive, high quality reproduction vintage dresses by brands such as House of Foxy, Dolly Dagger and Stop Staring.  These dresses are all in the over £100 price bracket, which is out of my normal budget, so I tried Ebay for second-hand ones at less than a third of the price.  I bought probably six or seven of these high-end dresses that didn't fit in total, and an additional two that did fit.  All four of the beautiful dresses pictured below did not fit, despite getting measurements and comparing dresses I already have from those brands that do fit me, and I had to resell them (fortunately with a small profit overall).

Not my dress
Clockwise from top left: Dolly Dagger rose print dress, House of Foxy peony print dress, Stop Staring red polkadot swing dress, Stop Staring black flutter dress. All in my size, but none of them fit me, so they had to go to new homes.

It's a bit frustrating and has made me even more wary about paying full price for these frocks, because invariably you end up losing a minimum of about £7 postage on each order you have to return.  And why spend such a large amount of money on a dress you'll not wear as much say as a top or pair of trousers?  I think I might have a little look on Ebay in 2016 for high-end dresses, but only place a bid if it's a 'dream' dress, rather than ones that I just think are quite nice.  I also found Clarks shoes reasonably on Ebay last year, and it's a good place to track down past styles that are a bit vintage in their styling, so I will continue to keep an eye out for those too.  All of my true vintage dresses from Ebay were a disaster - too short, too tight, too big, too scratchy, or not actually vintage!  I am very reluctant to buy true vintage from Ebay again.

Vintage dress 70s
Above: A vintage '70s dress that had the most horrid polyster lining, and it was too big anyway.

Vintage Style Brands
The Seamstress of Bloomsbury was my overall favourite new-to-me vintage reproduction brand.  I bought their Violet dress and Clarice blouse, and was gifted their Lisa dress for review.

SOB By The Sea
Above: In the Seamstress of Bloomsbury Violet dress

I also tried Whispering Ivy, with the two dresses I had from them being re-worn a few times over the year.  That's always a good sign that they're pieces that will get a lot of wear over the years.

Whispering Ivy Josephine Dress
Above: In a Whispering Ivy tropical print dress.

In terms of more familiar brands to me, I keep returning to Tara Starlet like a moth to the flame.  I kept their Marlene dress and some green pinstripe sailor trousers (currently on the alterations pile), but sent back their nightie (strap was ripped), crop top and short set (didn't like the fabric), bow bodice (see my review), and Molly dress (see review).  I don't think it was a good year for them overall, with lots of things being too cropped or too shiny to work on a wide range of figures.  I will wait and see what 2016 brings, as they've promised to expand their size range, so hopefully their designs will prove a little more wearable.

Lindybop's polkadot 'Bethan' trousers were a keeper but I returned the 'Divine' and 'Lindsey' tops (weird fit), green Isla dress (couldn't accommodate my derriere), and had issues with too many other dresses for me to list here.  See my post on all of their dresses I've tried here to hear more success/failure stories.

Collectif tempted me with their Monroe cropped jeans but the kangaroo pouch effect meant they were swiftly returned.

Voodoo Vixen was another fab brand that I only really discovered in 2015.  It started off last January when I won a cardigan from them.  Then, I went to London Edge as part of their blogger event.  Since then, I've bought a few things from them, including the amazing space babe skirt that I featured recently.

voodoo vixen mila cardigan
Above: In the 'Mila' cardigan that I won from Voodoo Vixen.

Overall there does seem to be as much hit-and-miss with the higher priced brands as with the smaller ones, for me anyway.  I'm talking about differences between styles of the same brand, and certainly major differences in quality between items too.  I was also surprised as sometimes I was getting better customer service from large brands than the small ones.  Lindybop, for example, may sell mainly cheap and cheerful items, but I have found their customer service absolutely top-notch, and they don't quibble over faults - I get my refund straight away, an apology (which goes a long way), and any postage is reimbursed.  I think that's the trouble with shopping with vintage repro or style brands; they're mainly online unless you live in London, so you are always taking a risk with whether something's going to be suitable.  Proceed with caution, I think for 2016.

High Street and other 'Normal' shops
It can be hard work hunting on the high street for vintage style clothing.  It's a lot of leg work for not much reward, so these days I mainly stick to looking online rather than venturing around the shopping centre.  The one exception is outlets - I am fairly close to two outlets, and I've had a few successes at these.  In The Outlet (which basically stocks catalogue brands like Very and Littlewoods), I came up trumps with evening dresses, leaving with three in one go, none of them over £10.  I also had success in Next, where they had some smashing outlet dresses, including a coral (again!) midi dress that actually hits below the knee on me.  A revelation!
As for underwear, the Dita Von Teese 'Her Sexellency' bra and brief set was supremely unflattering, with baggy cups (an A cup, I couldn't have gone smaller).  Also the bra was weirdly small in diameter; it could have done with being twice the size for my frame.  It was like wearing a pair of pince-nez.  Good old M&S, along with Kiss Me Deadly saved the day and provided me with some well-fitting vintagey styles.

Clevedon Hall
Above: I bought the dark purple version of this 1930s style dress by Very in The Outlet, then found this coral version on Ebay.

Above: A quick snap of me in the Next midi dress, in a bit of a bland hotel room before heading out on the town.

Charity Shops and Car Boot Sales
This kind of shopping is just so much fun!  I did buy a lot, and a lot of it didn't end up being worn admittedly, and has recently been re-donated or stuck on Ebay.  When I'm paying such small prices and the proceeds are going to charity, it's quite a cheap hobby overall that I don't have any regrets over.  I came away with things that I would never go out and purposely look for, such as a white faux-fur trimmed cape.  Fun, glamorous, and cheap!

second-hand bargains
Charity shop purchases, clockwise from top left: Oasis flutter-sleeve dress (kept), Cacharel '80s blouse (sold on), leather handbag (kept), and top (not sure, will wait until summer to re-assess!)

Above: The £3 cape that made me feel like Mrs Christmas!

I bought quite a lot overall in 2015, but I also donated or sold on bags, and bags, and bags of clothes from my existing wardrobe.  I also have very importantly stayed within my means, and if I have a bit of a spendy month, then the next one I tighten the purse strings.  So, what's my wardrobe plan for 2016?  Wear what I've already got.  Only purchase outside of charity shops if it's something that will fill an identified gap.  So far, that means only shapewear, hosiery, and things like belts and little accessories that can 'complete' an existing outfit.  No more dresses then.*

* I can't promise this...


  1. This is such a cool wardrobe post. I lapped up every word and really have to say how much I admire that you often return items that don't work for you. That's a lesson we could all use a reminder of from time-to-time.

    I'd have a very hard time promising that for a full year, too. If I could still get a skirt or two, maybe, but still... ;)

    Thank you for this engaging look at your recent fashion hits and misses, as well as your plans on the wardrobe front for 2016. Best of luck with everything, my friend!

    ♥ Jessica

    1. I do indeed have no qualms about returning, and also these days rather than stay silent and grumpy, I always contact brands about flaws and issues, because how else are they meant to improve?

      I'm going to need a bit of reinforcing on my non-shopping rule!!

  2. I too am trying to wear what I've got, so we can Not Shop together! Most of my purchases were on Etsy, which I just have to stay away from, it's so tempting.

    It's interesting that you found the fit on the Foxy dress was off, as I was given one for Christmas and was really impressed with it, but it was a different style. Such a shame so many of the dresses weren't quite right, it's so frustrating when that happens.

    1. I do find Foxy sizing varies a fair bit between styles, but I still love their stuff!

      You might have to keep an eye on me, I succumb to temptation quite easily...

  3. Such an interesting post, I loved reading about what you thought was a hit or miss. I'm trying to control how much clothing I buy and continue to enjoy what is already in my wardrobe + get on top of my sewing as I have so much great fabric waiting to be used! x

    1. Sewing is a WHOLE other story Kayla!! I look forward to seeing what you create x

  4. What a fabulous post, I love seeing how you shop! Two items I absolutely love amongst your purchases are the Stop Staring black flutter dress (seriously swooning over that one!) and the red Mexican looking top in your charity shops finds. Both are just beautiful.
    Good luck with the no dresses rule! I could never do that, dresses are far too tempting :) xx

    1. I was gutted that dress didn't fit Cate! Too much junk in the trunk ;)
      I'm beginning to wonder if I'm up to the no-dress challenge... x

  5. An insight into your shopping mind, eh... Although I think I already know a bit about that as it's as crazed as mine when it comes to sales ;) (I'm currently awaiting another Collectif and that Schuh order still... oh and the most beautiful bridesmaid shoes ever that I spent far too much money on, but what's a Maid of Honour to do?!) I think it's sad that brands can't stick to their darn size guides, or at least if they can't, that they don't then update said size guides. I've actually found Voodoo Vixen very consistent in all the pieces I currently have from them (which is admittedly a few too many), but I can't say that for many other brands...

    Anyway, I think your goal is admirable but let's see how long you stick to it ;) xxx

    1. Ye of little faith!! Just don't look at, whatever you do...

      All my Voodoo Vixen stuff is the same size, they are indeed pretty consistent in a world of fluctuating sizing and mislabelling!! xx

  6. How terrible that your ebay purchases did not turn out as expected... specially because the dresses were fab-
    Maybe next time you can buy bigger items and have them altered.. although then that would add an extra cost.
    You've actually given me a great idea on looking into ebay for items I am not willing to pay full price for.

  7. Love this 2015 wardrobe recap! I'm sorry to hear that so many ebay and vintage style brands didn't work out for you. It sounds like for the most part you were able to sell on or return the things that didn't work out which is great! Also that is great about all the great Outlet finds you made! This year I'm goaling to tighten the purse strings overall myself! I still see lots of new acquisitions in my future though as the keyword for me is less but not none ;) <3 Looking forward to seeing all your new finds in 2016!

  8. This is such a good idea, I have way too many dresses, but I don't think that will stop me! You are much more organised! You've got some beautys here, I am awaiting sale purchases I know I don't need too...

    1. Oh gosh, I am waiting for my second Collectif order!! Made before I wrote this post and did my wardrobe assessment, I might add...

  9. I also donated bags and bags of my wardrobe, such a good feeling! Also, you have the prettiest collection of frocks!

    xx Chelsea

  10. It was a year of purchases really lucky for you! All these dresses are beautiful and very original, I think it will shine on you perfectly even in 2016!


  11. I have no intention of making clothing resolutions for 2016 I always break them!!

    I have resisted buying repro brand stuff in resent years other than Hell Bunny which 90% of the time fits perfectly and is the right length. I don't have curves and most styles need them, if I buy something to fit my waist it never fits by boobs or hips. Ebay can be a nightmare but I have found some gems on there and where would my blog be without pictures of all my disaster buys??

  12. I know it didn't work out super well for you, but I'm dying to hunt down that House of Foxy peony dress now. So pretty! Not that I need any more dresses either, really, but I'm seriously in lust right now.
    It sounds like you really had a good year in clothes. I feel like if you don't conform to the industry norm - and let's face, no one really does - it can be a real crapshoot to find stuff that fits right and looks good. It looks like you found some really lovely pieces, and I love that some of your favorite things ended up being so reasonably priced. You're making me want to hit up the thrift shops and see what I can score.

  13. It's so disappointing when you buy something and the sizing is wrong, then you lose out on postage! Looks like you've had some good buys this year too though

  14. I experimented with buying true vintage from eBay at the end of last year, and found it very hit and miss indeed. While I ended up with a handful of really superb items, most things I purchased were in poor condition (I managed to get refunds on the majority), badly fitting (even though I got measurements), not genuine or just not worth the money. Like you, I'll be very wary in future!


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