Book Review: “Why Did I Buy That?” by Kirstie Clements

Why Did I Buy That Actual One

Why Did I Buy That?

Most of us externalize the power we have over our own style and give judgement rights to someone else. I’m not sure how this happens. When I introduce myself to a new group of friends as a stylist, often the follow up comment is how I must be judging everyone based on what they are wearing. This is not what is happening, by the way, but it does reflect the general feeling that someone else knows better than we do when it comes to our clothes. It feels like the knowledge around good style is so profound and powerful that it must only be accessible to an elite, exclusive group.

Enter Kirstie Clements, previous editor in chief of Australian Vogue. Now, one would think that being a the literal top of the style game in Australia, that Kirstie might want to eschew all sorts of hoity toity fashion advice that is applicable to top 1% uber rich who can afford to drop $10K on a single item. Not so. Kirstie is divinely familiar. Relational. Relatable.

What would the Australian version of Anna Wintour have to say about fashion and style in general? Kirstie’s perspective would of course be unique, especially having had the perspective of influencing and observing trends start, evolve and be replaced from the top to the food chain. I was expecting anything. Anything but someone with all the access and permission to making good style choices admit her bad ones. Hence, the title of the book, “Why Did I Buy That?”. Kirstie talks about how she doesn’t actually follow trends but is still susceptible to buying overpriced and under worn garments.

How refreshing it is to know that our poor style choices are made because we are all susceptible to chasing the feeling behind the purchase rather than being conscious of the purchase itself. Kirstie issues terrific wisdom such as, “for most of us, it’s probably not more clothes we need. Its more time to think.” This was in the context of taking the time to go through your existing wardrobe and restyle items. Pair things in new ways to give old purchases a new life. I found it particularly gratifying because this is what I do with clients in the wardrobe audit phase. It’s nice when you discover that what you are doing is in line with what top fashion industry leaders are recommending also.

Kirstie provides advice that is practical for anyone, any gender, at any age including some staple recommendations for every wardrobe. She references a “recent European study that found that people do not wear at least 50 percent of the clothes in their wardrobe”. This is on part with the 80/20 rule that I educate my clients to; that we typically only wear 20% of our clothes regularly and the remining 80% sits there, redundant or not often worn. Sometimes we need a guide as to what we actually will not just wear, but also love in our wardrobe.

Even Kirstie herself talks about reducing the size of her wardrobe so she can get an accurate picture of who she is and where she is in her life now. She talks about wishing someone could come in to help show her how to reinfuse life and fresh looks into her wardrobe. This, from the woman who edited Australia’s top fashion rage for over a decade.

It shows that it is inherent in humans that we can’t see ourselves without bias or from a 360-degree view. We need fresh eyes, even if you are fashion and style are what you are paid to know all about. I thoroughly recommend treating yourself to Kirsties book and feeling in good company knowing that lots of us feel overwhelmed by the options and potential pitfalls of style. Kirstie maps out some wonderful options that are accessible today and is humbling in her terrific interpretations of some difficult concepts around self-perception and esteem.

Many of us judge ourselves harshly for not being more ‘on trend’, stylish or fashionable. We judge ourselves for not only what we don’t know but that somehow we should innately know it. I like to interpret style as a skill, that it is is something to be learnt. Kirstie hands out some wickedly good tips amidst surprising stories from her own journey that help us see we all need a bit of help in this space, even if you’re at the top.

If you’ve read this and realised that it’s totally normal to need training with the game of style, I’d love to be your coach. Send me an email via the contact page or here. I will be doing a live review of this book on Wednesday evening. Book your spot here.

Much love, A x


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