Lust is a powerful emotion.
Sometimes it overcomes your senses to the point that you just can’t take it anymore. We desire that item, person, or experience so badly that it can become an obsession! The world of marketing knows how powerful this feeling of lust can be and has tapped into it to sell us anything from coffee machines to a pair of shoes. Sustainability in Style has discussed this idea of ‘lust’ as a driver for consumption in the past reviewing books like Impulse and Affluenza, however the (now a few years old) BBC documentary ‘The Men Who Made Us Spend’ (that has been mentioned on this site before) available again on ABC iview is what prompted this styling session post.
Do you sometimes find yourself being ‘sucked in’ by the images you see in marketing campaigns? As technology progresses marketing is becoming smarter at working out what you really like as a customer, which is why the advertisements that pop up on sidebars of websites, google, and social media somehow always seem to be related to something you have googled in the past and/or really like the look of! While it’s hard to find definitive statistics about the number of media messages we are exposed to per day (estimates are in the 5000+ range) a study into advertising and persuasive intent indicated that children in the UK in 2002 were exposed to 18,000 commercials per year. It’s no wonder we sometimes feel what we own is inadequate when we are trained from an early age to want more and as adults are accosted with around 5k messages per day about ways we could improve our lives with this soap/car/fast food item.
While it may be impossible to avoid advertising you can use it to your advantage when assessing your closet contents.
Perhaps you’ve been browsing some of your favourite clothing brands look-books. Don’t worry… we all are guilty of doing this. The clever sods often sign you up to their email lists when you purchase an item, make and enquiry about a product, or enter a competition online and before you know it you are getting weekly delivery of fashion eye-candy to your inbox. While you’re browsing the latest range start to take note of items you are drawn to. More often than not you will start to notice a pattern for your lust. I found through my Wardrobe Workout challenge that many of the items I was drawn to were actually quite similar to things that I already owned (the revelation occurred on Day 191 of my year long shopping ban). In fact after my revelation I spent an entire week proving to myself that marketing is causing me to lust after items that I pretty much already own by styling my closet like the (at the time) current Free People catalogue.
If you find yourself being drawn to the same style of images over and over again then this might just be ‘your style’. You can keep track of these images by writing some notes in a notebook, starting a file of images on your computer, or using an app like Pinterest to document what you like. When you have some spare time you can sit down with a cup of tea and work out some of the re-occuring trends that pop up in your style pics. Perhaps you are seeing leather skirts or maybe sneakers are on the feet of every person you pinned. For me it’s always a casual bohemian inspired look that probably hasn’t always been ‘my thing’ but given my sub-tropical living conditions seems to fit the lifestyle with ease.
Taking an image you see in the media and adapting it to your closet contents can be easier than you think.
Sometimes it can be a little daunting to ‘re-think’ the items you have. We are creatures of habit and get stuck in a set way of dressing. This is usually because we don’t look at the contents of our closest with a fresh set of eyes. In fact most of the time we open our closest its with bleary morning eyes, not adventurous styling ones. After you have taken some time to think about your ‘pinning’ habits and what trends seem to be emerging in your lust list open your closet doors. Perhaps like me you are drawn to the specific vibe of an image. I really enjoyed the little boho pic in the most recent issue of Peppermint mag (styled by a sunny coast gal and shown above) so I opened my closet with this image in mind and these shorts immediately jumped out at me. Sure, they aren’t identical to the outfit featured but realistically I can’t go around wearing a belt as pants while skipping merrily through a field of flowers (well at least the opportunities to do this don’t arise very often) so my shorts are probably a better option. Once you have the ‘vibe’ of the outfit you loved you can add your own personal touches. My next step is always jewellery, then I add a basic tank and select the right shoes and bag for the day. I’ve actually honed in on what I love so specifically now using this process that all I have to do is have a quick through a new season catalogue and ideas for how to re-style what I own immediately appear in my little brain like magic!
Create a boutique experience in your own home.
Whether it’s adding your favourite perfume to your dresser or hanging necklaces from the walls making your home visually appealing with what you already own should do a good job of helping you to appreciate and love what you already have. Boutiques and high street stores are very strategic in marketing their product to look like something you ‘can’t live without’ even if you just so happen to already own something like it. They do this by putting visually appealing ‘show stopping’ pieces (designed to be ridiculously good looking for advertising campaigns but not necessarily wearable) in windows and on mannequins and dressing them up with basics and accessories. Having worked retail for years I saw many people fall into the trap of buying the ‘highlights’ of each seasonal collection and neglecting the basics. This is often how we end up with a closet full of clothes but nothing to wear. While it is nice to look at 150 party dresses in your cupboard, there is a good chance that you aren’t going to head out the the beach/shops/gym/after-school-kiddy-pick-up-duties while wearing one. If you want the boutique experience in your own home you can showcase a pretty thing or two in your closet but be sure to keep your basics in the most accessible places. Having a neatly folded collection of rotating neutrals will help you to avoid the ‘I have nothing to wear’ mornings, while a pretty item or two on display will mean you won’t get bored and want to show every time you looking into your closet. Feel free to get creative with how you display your favourites. My space changes nearly weekly and when I put away laundry I tend to change what items I have hanging up in my closet and clad my dressmakers dummy in something ‘new’.
If temptation is too much un-subscribe!
Sometimes we can be tempted to buy even if our closets are full. As we have been trained from a young age to be responsive to this kind of stimuli it is a difficult habit to break. I can honestly say that after one year without shopping I’m still not the greatest at controlling my urge to thrift (note for new readers: I quit shopping because I was an excellent thrifted and also had a huge collection of ‘new’ items I had been forced to buy as a uniform for various fast fashion jobs). Fortunately there are ways you can love what you have and buy less. One of the easiest ways to cut back on the amount of targeted and tempting adverting you see is to unsubscribe from e-newsletters. You can do this by following the links in the emails you receive. You can also opt out of magazine purchases if you find that the content is just to hard to admire from afar.
By signing up for entertainment options like Netflix you can view programs without the need for advertising (unlike commercial TV). Avoid commercial radio stations that yell options to buy products at you between songs and try government funded radio stations like Triple J or Premium ad free services by Spotify. Social media is a hard one as many social media providers do have advertising. Unfortunately you cannot control this! However if you do see adverting you don’t approve of you should take the time to let the social media operator know that what they are offering is not ok!