Why did I buy that?
It's a question most women - and probably some men - have asked themselves at some point.
The item that always comes to mind when I think of that question is a pair of Sophia Webster pastel pink stilettos, with the words "Boss Lady" embroidered on the tips. Don't get me wrong - they're amazing, and one of the British designer's iconic designs.
But I ordered them following the events of a bad week that included a break-up and - more to the point - a torn ACL (from two separate occasions), and by the time I had my knee reconstruction the idea of a high, thin stiletto made me nervous. So for years, they have been sitting on a shelf, waiting for someone to wear them.
Of course, they're not the only regretful purchase I have in my wardrobe. As former Vogue Australia editor and author Kirstie Clements says, you're lucky if you have only one.
And just because she has spent a large part of her career at the pointy end of fashion, doesn't mean Clements has escaped these types of buys herself. It does, however, mean that she may have witnessed more people make very expensive regrettable purchases.
As she details in the opening pages of her new book, Why Did I Buy That?, her first wake-up call to this phenomenon - at least on the pricier end of the scale - was during the It-bag era of the early 2000s.
She watched as women forked out more than $2000 - money that they didn't have - for a Balenciaga Lariat bag, only for them to eventually put it away in the cupboard after one too many starlets were photographed outside Starbucks, bag in hand.
For Clements, one of the purchases she recalls making, actually made its way onto the cover of the book.
"That shoe on the cover, that's a little interpretation of a Yves Saint Laurent shoe that I bought and I never wore it because it was too high and too young for me," she says over the phone from her Sydney home.
"I was probably in my late 40s when I bought them. They had these ribbons that kept on going around the ankles.
"They were so expensive and I got so cross with myself. And then I thought well, there were a lot of influences to make you think you had to have that Yves Saint Laurent shoe."
It's because of these influences that Clements decided to sit down and write her latest book.
Who better to help you sift through - or even, simply ignore - fashion trends than someone who has seen more come and go than she's had hot breakfasts?
Fashion doesn't have to be taken so seriously. And not all trends are good - or suitable - for everyone. Clements knows that.
Even while she was living and breathing fashion every day she wasn't doing so decked out in the latest from the runway.
"Early in the piece, because I was privy to every idiotic trend that came and went, literally by the minute, I had to pull back," Clements says.
"It's all fair to put it in the magazine but I can't be doing that every 10 seconds. I can't just be willy nilly doing every trend that comes past. I don't have the money and it's exhausting to think about.
"I was a journalist and when I was at Vogue it wasn't about you being in front of the camera. It was a pre-iPhone time so you weren't the focal point.
"I just had pretty utilitarian clothes that were nice labels but polished and good for work. I wasn't the sample size or anything like that so I just found my own uniform and that uniform has pretty much always been my uniform."
And that uniform was one Clements has not only continued throughout her career but one that models and celebrities have been held on a pedestal for.
Even as we talk, there are publications praising Kate Moss for wearing a blazer and jeans to last month's London Fashion Week. And it's not the first time the supermodel has sported the look.
"That's pretty much what I wear. That's pretty much what my friends wear and we've been wearing since we were 20," Clements says.
"I think for me it was more about finding a style and then adding some interesting accessories that update it seasonally. I still think that's the formula, rather than changing your wardrobe."
Make no mistake, Clements may be the guru when it comes to knowing how to make the most of your wardrobe and fashion purchases - after all, she has written the book on it.
But, she doesn't shy away from the fact that even she falls into the trap of buying something she shouldn't. Or trying to navigate which trends work and which simply don't.
As Australia started to come out of its first lockdown last year, Clements found herself trying to navigate the world - and in particular a girls' trip to the mountains - after months of wearing trackpants at home. (And if we're honest, we all know she wasn't the only one deliberating what to wear when we were allowed to venture into the world again.)
"The idea of squeezing into - horror of horrors - something with a waistband was extremely unappealing," she writes in her book.
She reluctantly zipped herself into her jeans only to find her most chic and fashionable friend was wearing leggings - something Clements hadn't owned since the 1980s. For the entirety of the trip she quizzed her friend for all her leggings tips - which she then helpfully shares with her readers in Why Did I Buy That?
And the effects of COVID on how people interact with the fashion world doesn't stop there. The most recent lockdowns mean people everywhere - including Clements - are tempted to make purchases they may not usually.
"I bought this raffia beach bag and it arrived and it's just such terrible quality. And I'm furious at myself. I just should have waited," Clements says.
"I think, really, it's a lot about waiting and not being so impulsive about things and putting it in the cart and waiting for the next day to see if you think you need it. And doing a wardrobe stocktake to see if you can get away with buying one thing this season.
"I'm coming to the conclusion that I think you should touch and feel something before you buy it. I just think sending things around the world in DHL packages is super wasteful."
- Why Did I Buy That? by Kirstie Clements. Murdoch Books. $39.99.
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