How to shop for clothes in this new Covid-era... Cork stylists share their advice

Our dressing and shopping habits have changed dramatically, these past few months. EMMA CONNOLLY gets some practical style advice
How to shop for clothes in this new Covid-era... Cork stylists share their advice

Sharon Huggard.

OUR dressing habits have changed drastically since the pandemic hit.

We’re naturally more inclined to reach for the leggings, than the bodycon dress if working from home.

But if we look good, we’ll feel even better so finding a stylish middle ground is important, as working from home looks like a fixture that will be in our lives for a while yet.

Equally, our shopping habits have changed, with lots of us going online when lockdown hit and still being very careful about our movements.

Thankfully, lots of Cork boutiques have taken that big step online, which means we can still support local, but without the chance to feel and try things on, it is still a very different experience.

We sought out some expert help to make both challenges less daunting…

Claire Tenwick, originally from Cork, now Dublin-based, of the hugely popular Instagram account 5ft_fashion_fairy.
Claire Tenwick, originally from Cork, now Dublin-based, of the hugely popular Instagram account 5ft_fashion_fairy.

Claire Tenwick, originally from Cork, now Dublin-based, is the fashionista behind the hugely popular Instagram account 5ft_fashion_fairy.

I have always been a keen online shopper, probably buying 50% online and 50% in store, but all of that changed drastically when Covid hit. I went from 50/50 to 100% online and I have remained that way ever since. So far I still haven’t ‘hit the shops’ and honestly I’m not sure why... maybe I will next week, maybe!

I used to find online shopping a little overwhelming, if I’m honest. Like where do you start?

There is so much out there, almost too much, and how do you know if it’s good quality or a good fit? The mind boggles. So, like everything in life, it’s about taking it in small bite-size chunks and starting small.

Here are some of my tips and tricks for successful online shopping:

Start with what you know

If you’ve been to the store ‘in real life’ then it will be easy to shop on their website. Start there. For me, it’s easy to shop on sites like River Island, Topshop, H&M and Zara as they are always the first stores I go to when I go shopping. I know the sizing; I know the quality and I am confident in what will suit my body type.

Be inspired

Get some outfit inspiration from Pinterest or Instagram. I know this can also be overwhelming as every man and his dog is now an influencer (including me) but it can honestly be a great source for outfit inspo. Use hashtags to narrow your search (eg #jeansandanicetop or #blackblazer) and save the images you like.

Purchase with Purpose

Sales, sales, sales! It feels like almost every day there is a ‘mega sale’ and it’s hard not to feel pressure to grab the deal of the century. Be strong. Don’t buy it just because it’s cheap.

Keep a list of all the items you want to buy, reference your inspo images and purchase with an outfit/occasion in mind.

Take a Risk

OK, so sometimes you just have to throw all the rules out the window and take a chance on something fabliss, dawhling!

Returns policies are really in favour of the customer now, many sites offer free returns and give you a few weeks to make your return. Many Irish boutiques are now online, support them, you can find some absolute gems, trust me. See it, like it, buy it. You can always return it.

I know the world is a bit strange right now, and it feels like we don’t have as many reasons to dress up (I’ve been working at home for six months so my work wardrobe has changed drastically), but I promise you if you make the effort with your outfit you will have a better day.

Sharon Huggard of Cork-based The Style Coach is passionate about helping women who are holding themselves back to step up and live the life they desire and deserve by transforming their style and confidence. She helps women create a look and wardrobe that reflects their body shape, lifestyle and personality.

Now is the time to shop your wardrobe. With fewer social occasions and many of us working from home, it’s about making the most of your existing wardrobe and building on it, and here’s how…

Declutter your wardrobe. If you can not see it or touch it, you cannot wear it. To get started, grab my complimentary step by step guide

Then shop for any gaps in your wardrobes to expand your existing options and keep your wardrobe fresh and current.

Simplicity is key, we have wardrobes full of clothes yet NOTHING to wear. That leads to decision fatigue which is why we wear 20% of our clothes 80% of the time.

Get your outfit ready the night before. Link it to an existing habit, e.g. brushing your teeth.

Taking five minutes will allow you to try items you haven’t worn in a while, items you wouldn’t have previously paired together and accessorise to achieve a put together look.

Cost Per Wear. Buy as well as your budget will allow and then wear them and enjoy them. I encourage you not to keep your clothes for good and only buy if you love something.

Think fewer clothes, more outfits. Then build on your wardrobe staples, allowing you to mix and match, allowing you to dress with ease every day.

Dress for yourself, you’re worth it. What we wear has the power to instantaneously impact our self-confidence. When you look good, you feel amazing.

Don’t underestimate the power of colour, especially at this time of year. Not only do colours impact you physically, but emotionally too.

In a recent research poll, 48% of people said they have put on weight since lockdown. I would urge self-compassion as these are exceptional circumstances that we find ourselves in.

The key is knowing your body shape and dressing to flatter and enhance your body to give you the most incredible silhouette. It will transform how you look on the outside and feel on the inside.

Layering is a great way to utilise items from your existing wardrobe and transition them into your autumn/winter wardrobe, making them trans-seasonal.

Remember, deserve to look and feel your best. Now, is your time!

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