I always find
clothes shopping is easier for me when I apply my TICKS rule. I invented
my mental TICKS rule to make me stop and think when I buy a new item of clothing.
The letters make an easy-to-recall acronym, although the order is not that
important. If you can think through each letter and tick it you may have a
winner of an item. Try applying my TICKS rule the next time you go
shopping. Don't worry too much that you can't shop in a focused way
like a man does and don't worry if you go home with an item you did not intend to buy.
Just enjoy shopping for the wonderful female time wasting activity it can be
- a break from chores and a concentrated couple of hours on yourself.
And for more tips read my page -
Credit Crunch Fashion Tips.
K - Kudos -
Kick Yourself - and a Sneaky one here - 'Quality'
S - Shape -
Slender - Slim - Silhouette - Spouse
Mentally tick each thought process, then buy
or leave the item after you weigh up the positives and negatives. This is what my TICKS
rule means to me. You can add or subtract words that mean less to you
or are less important.
Is trendy what you seek, or for this item, do you need to lean toward classic?
You will already know if you are a classic dresser. You'll also know
if you have been dressing the same way for years and are beyond classic, slowly having moved into
frumpy and dated. If so, you need urgent self help. Is it time to opt for
something more funky rather than safe and classic? I keep typing this
on other parts of the site such as in
trends page, but do avoid buying into a trend that is on the wane. So if you read the
previous sentence make sure you are in at the start of a trend, if trendy is
what you truly seek. Classic can be trendy if you look for the little
details that make the difference. Weigh up the T in TICKS for the next item
Is the item for an
invitation event, an important interview or intimate (in the house) personal occasion?
Is it an investment piece destined to become a workhorse item and quite
Where will you wear it? Is it totally inappropriate or
appropriate for your needs?
Do you just adore it to bits and does it just feel so good on because it seems so
individual. Fashion writers will often tell you to avoid impulse
buys. Not me!
Some of our very best buys are bought on impulse and
instinct because we just know, in our bones, that this garment has our name
written on it. We know that it does more for us than any garment ever did before. We find ourselves walking around the rails perhaps chatting to the shop
assistant, feeling as if the garment is
You may be even feeling below par,
perhaps feel ugly and bloated that day, but impulse buy garments usually also look good on such 'off days' - so buy
it. Think how wonderful it will look with freshly groomed hair and make up when you have
If it is an investment item that will become truly
indispensable, go the extra mile and pay a bit more for the garment or
Typical investment items include great black skirts, black trousers and
cashmere and mohair knits in basic neutrals. Colours such as black, grey, navy,
cream taupe or camel can be teamed with a wide range of other colours and
can tone down bright hues to a wearable everyday level. Such neutral
items are often the items to hang onto when you blitz your wardrobe of dowdy
trends on the wane.
One year I especially recall my investment dressing items paying off I
was off to a funeral and scoured my wardrobe before shopping. I teamed a 3 year
old classic shawl collar short jacket from a good trouser suit, with a new
'investment' fashionable black skirt and an indispensable basic black V neck
So weigh up the I
in the TICKS rule. Invitation - Interview - Impulse - Instinct - Inappropriate
- Indispensable - Investment
It's not just
a diamond that has colour and cut, cloth does too. Look at the cloth.
In my opinion cloth falls into just 2 categories - good cloth and poor
If you want
wrinkle free garments, check the cloth - crush the fabric in your hand by
making a fist of the cloth and see how it springs back. I never
buy anything without a garment passing my stringent requirements of this
test. A little creasing is acceptable as time dependant creases will
drop out, but major crumple creasing should be avoided.
Wrinkle fabrics are great when they are intended to be worn creased and crushed as in roll them up wrinkle skirts, tops or grunge looks. Fabrics that crush easily are a disaster if sleek and
bandbox fresh pressed is the major requirement of the material.
How the cloth is
cut and the silhouette contours are created, is also important. Badly cut clothes do no
favours even for those with good figures. A good cut helps create good fit,
but many women don't even understand what good fit is, they are so used to
sloppy jogging bottoms/tops and easy jersey wear.
Finding clothes that
fit well takes time and you have to be fussy. If it doesn't flatter your
body then keep trying on garments and in different sizes until you find a
cut or size that does flatter. Women with less than good figures can improve
their silhouette with well cut clothes. Better cut clothes invariably
cost more. An overlong sleeve being shortened, the insertion or
removal of a
shoulder pad or the addition of a discreet a minor back neck dart is sometime all an item needs to move it into the
perfect category. However, if an item needs too much in the way of
alterations, then just look at different brands that may cater better for
Colour is a major
factor. The right shade or tone can make you look gorgeous or gruesome, so
that you can either bask in the colour or fade away in it. If you don't know
the difference between a shade and a tone - a shade has black added to it, so
it gets greyed and a tone has white added to it so it is more luminous. Some
people fare better with clear bright colours, others look far better in
sludgy dirtier shades. Know your skin type and which colour range
suits you. If you are still hazy about colours that flatter you, have a
Colour Me Beautiful or similar image assessment or style assessment
at a makeover studio. Even the cheapest looking
garish colours look much better in quality materials, but garish colours in
cheap or shiny fabrics mostly look quite nasty.
Cost of course is
very important. Everyone has to fit their purchases to their own
personal budget. But we have all made mistakes. We buy what we
initially think is a bargain because it is low cost and then every time we
go to wear it, we slip it off to don something that makes us feel or look
just that bit more expensive. Therefore, the low cost item sometimes
languishes in the wardrobe and eventually gets worn just around the house, or
not at all. Sometimes we don't even care and just find ourselves
adding it to a charity bag. But if you stop and think before you buy, you will do that less
often. And for more tips read my page -
Credit Crunch Fashion Tips.
repay their worth over and over. Consider good well fitting dark jeans, grey, taupe or
black trousers (preferably lined); a good black or taupe skirt. Great basics include a cashmere knit, a winter coat, a well
cut jacket, a few camisoles or plain tops that suit your figure, winter
boots, a leather handbag, quality spectacle frames. These are the
basics which can have this season's edgy touch. You can always add items to expand the combinations
as the season moves forward.
Don't forget cleaning. Ask yourself if the item is easy to
clean with quick and easy basic laundering. Or, will you need to have
it specialist dry cleaned every time you mark it or feel it's soiled.
Having items dry cleaned is fine if you can take the cost, but irritating in
that there is a longer wait factor. Always check the labels for the
cleaning instructions if it really matters to you. Always check the
cleaning/laundering instructions on white, cream and pastel clothing.
A beaded pastel dress can be very expensive to have dry-cleaned.
So remember the C in TICKS is for Colour -
Cut - Cloth - Creativity - Cost - Cleaning
K - Kudos -
Kick Yourself - and a Sneaky one here 'Quality'
Some designer brand names have recognisable kudos. This may or may not be important to you. Designer names have never bothered me, but I do know some people have to have 'label' goods.
Sometimes you literally are paying for the label. You can decide if this is important to you or not.
Not all designer
labels offer the same kudos as they once did years ago. Too many ready
to wear designer brands have over reached into the mass market and so now to
get real exclusivity if it matters to you, then move up a level to
yourself is another feature to think about. If you are a size that
sells out quickly and you love an item, then you will really kick yourself if
you don't purchase the item and find it gone when you return the following
week. This is often the case for top of the standard size range in UK
of size 18. A lot of people want that size, but in good up to date ranges it flies out
of shops when an item is appealing or flattering.
Kick Yourself also
applies to trying on garments that you pass not once, but several times and
think to yourself that garment is to die for. I urge you to try that
garment on. Why? Because when it looks awful and often it does,
you'll kick yourself you wasted so much time lusting after it as you tried
to drop off to sleep every night for a week, but had thoughts of the garment
invading your restless brain! This rule is one I learnt way back about
1975 when for 2 weeks I longed for a then very fashionable forest green
velvet jacket in a store window I passed daily. Eventually
payday came and I
decided I would buy it. But when I tried it on, the fit and cut was hideous on
me and I had totally forgotten about it 5 minutes later.
Ok, I do know
that Quality does not begin with K, but we must look at it here. Just remember
that K sound to remind you of the word quality. Quality is important for items intended to be wardrobe work
'Never mind the
price, feel the quality', is important for items intended to last. For a
one-off event this may be less of a necessity. But sometimes the only way to
get something a bit special for a one off event is by paying a bit more.
However, use the
divide by the number of wearings rule. The equation goes like this:-
Expensive evening dress worn just twice is just that - Expensive - 50% of the cost per
wearing. So if the evening dress costs £199.99, then each wearing costs £100.
But an average price decent high street brand winter coat or jacket perhaps
with cashmere and worn every other day for 4
months for 2 seasons is much better value for money. So if the coat
costs £360 at 120 wearings each wearing costs £3.
There is nothing wrong with
wearing the evening dress just twice, just know when you buy it that is all
you may ever wear the item. Do not try to justify the purchase with
'I'll get lots of wear out of it'. You won't. Everyone will
recognise it next time. But when you do
wear it, you may well feel very special and surely that's what matters at
the special event. You can always wear the dress again on holiday, or for
romantic dining occasions with one special person.
Yourself if you forget the importance of the K in the TICKS rule.
S - Shape -
Slender - Slim - Silhouette - Spouse
look better on slender or slim people, and most of us when we buy clothes, are
always pleased when garments make our silhouette look slimmer or shapelier.
You may notice that in some shapes you look much better than in others. Try
to observe the shapes which get you compliments and ask yourself, why you buy
garment shapes which do nothing for you. Believe me, no one looks good in a shapeless
fleece artist cut top. Comfortable maybe, but not a good look that
will enhance your appearance.
Dependant on body shape, princess
seams, empire lines or even dropped waists will all emphasise an individual's
good or bad points. Just learn to recognise your best features. There is another S you
can add if the previous criteria have been filled. S-E-X-Y. If this is
how you want your clothes to be I am sure you will know when you have
succeeded, but do remember there is also a hidden vibe in understated
clothing. The most obvious clothing is not always the most alluring.
Finally in the S
of TICKS, I spare a thought to consider my spouse - for you this maybe a
husband or partner who has opinions about your clothing. Frankly
I don't take too much notice of my husband's opinion on the clothes I
select. After all it's my body and physique they have to fit and not
his. But I do care that he likes how I look. However, if there was the 'odd' item where my husband was non-committal, I would wonder about it and maybe take it back - for
'odd' read one in 20 items. But I have to say that
if I loved the item, I really would keep it and just wear it when I am not in his presence. If he said he disliked every item, I really would think he was talking through his hat.
Any husband or
partner who is dictatorial about what you wear is not worth worrying about.
Obviously you want your significant other to like you in your clothing selection, but if such a person repeatedly rejects every fashion purchase you make which is your choice then think seriously about your
judgement in your choice of him.
S will probably be the easiest letter
to remember, think Shape -
Slender - Slim - Silhouette - Spouse.
So next time you
go shopping for clothes ask yourself can you put all the ticks in Pauline's
See Marks and Spencer New Spring Collections online
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