Follow fashion editor Penny Goldstone's monthly fashion musings in this column...
Welcome to the third instalment of my monthly column, where I happily bore you with all my sartorial thoughts including why the lockdown stole my fashion identity, and why I'm investing in feel-good dresses this season.
Now I promise I won't keep banging on about lockdown, but I did want to touch on how it has affected my shopping habits, for the better I think.
Like a lot of people, I used to be obsessed with Zara and ASOS hauls, rushing to buy the latest must-have item after spotting it on one of my favourite influencers on Instagram.
I would buy items every week, thinking nothing of it. After all, it was an affordable way to try a trend, and if I didn't like it, then no biggie, I could just give it away or discard it when I'd inevitably get bored of it by the following year.
Shameful, I know, but there you have it. This habit of mine wasn't sitting right with me for a while. For starters, it wasn't as affordable as I thought, as spending £50 here and there soon added up. Then the quality wasn't always there, with some items falling apart after a handful of wears.
I wanted to buy less but better, and the pandemic is what truly gave me the kick up the butt I needed. I wasn't going anywhere, so there was no point in buying anything, and I had all the time in the world to sort through my wardrobe.
In doing so, I realised that half my wardrobe was irrelevant, and the pieces I did want to keep were higher quality and more timeless.
These are some items I've bought over the past year.
BOTTEGA VENETA BV Jodie Mini leather tote, £1,130 at MYTHERESA
This is by far my biggest purchase of the year, my Christmas present to myself. I'd had my eye on it for a year, and asked myself whether it was worth the investment. Daniel Lee's designs have taken the label to stratospheric heights, and are mostly timeless and so far have held their value, in case I want to resell it one day. Don't get me wrong, it's tiny, but such a gorgeous evening bag.
TOVE Ceres gathered organic cotton-poplin midi dress, £425 at Net-A-Porter
UK label TOVE is fast becoming my favourite for simple, go-with-everything dresses. I bought this one last spring, and have worn it layered over fine knits throughout winter. It's made from organic cotton, an in small batches to avoid mass production.
White Diamond Letter Dangle, £285 at Roxanne First
This one is next on my list, and I'll think about it for a while longer before I buy it. I used to buy so much costume jewellery, which would immediately tarnish or irritate my skin. I own a few pieces from the genius that is Roxanne First, and love how fun yet timeless they feel. Plus she sources conflict-fee, ethical diamonds that she sources from suppliers she or her team visit personally.
The pandemic also made me reassess how I want to live my life, and more specifically what kind of impact I want to have on the planet. While from a lifestyle point of you, I am using less plastic and eating less meat, from a wardrobe point of you, I am investing in pieces from more sustainable brands.
It isn't a perfect science of course, I do fall in love with some pieces that aren't 100% sustainable, but I do consider the following factors before buying: who made it, what it's made from, and what the company or designer stands for.
I wouldn't be entirely truthful though, if I didn't disclose that money has also been a major factor. Working from home for a whole year has meant zero commuting costs. I live in Surrey, so my monthly train ticket was an exorbitant £350.60, some of which I've been able to divert to my clothing allowance (promise I'm still saving mum).
This past year, instead of my usual weekly haul, I've instead bought an item a month or bi-monthly if it's pricier, usually a timeless dress or designer handbag I know I'll still wear a decade from now. I know I'm lucky, it's a privilege to be able to do so.
Regardless of budget, I can't see myself going back to the way I used to shop, and I feel all the better for it.
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Penny Goldstone is the Digital Fashion Editor at Marie Claire, covering everything from catwalk trends to royal fashion and the latest high street and Instagram must-haves.
Penny grew up in France and studied languages and law at the Sorbonne Nouvelle University in Paris before moving to the UK for her MA in multimedia journalism at Bournemouth University. She moved to the UK permanently and has never looked back (though she does go back regularly to stock up on cheese and wine).
Although she's always loved fashion - she used to create scrapbooks of her favourite trends and looks, including Sienna Miller and Kate Moss' boho phase - her first job was at MoneySavingExpert.com, sourcing the best deals for everything from restaurants to designer sales.
However she quit after two years to follow her true passion, fashion journalism, and after many years of internships and freelance stints at magazines including Red, Cosmopolitan, Stylist and Good Housekeeping, landed her dream job as the Digital Fashion Editor at Marie Claire UK.
Her favourite part of the job is discovering new brands and meeting designers, and travelling the world to attend events and fashion shows. Seeing her first Chanel runway IRL at Paris Fashion Week was a true pinch-me moment.
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