As we move into a new decade where the issue of sustainability is the biggest challenge the fashion industry will face in 2020 and beyond ‘buy less, buy better’ is a much-coined phrase currently … the premise being that we all need to be more mindful in our purchases and how we dress.  And it’s a great sentiment both from the point of view of loving and looking after what you already have and also really thinking about how you shop.

But how do you ‘actually’ do that? Does it involve spending a hefty sum on every new purchase for example to ensure you are indeed buying better’? Does it mean you need to curb your sudden yearning for a gold sequined dress/rainbow platform sandal/bright pink sweater that goes with nothing else in your wardrobe? Should you be looking to buy only sustainable fashion brands and eschew all others in order to really do your bit. Answer to all of these b.t.w is no though should definitely be questions at the forefront of your mind. Quality over quantity being the general idea. But instead of looking it from a standpoint of rules and must do’s, how about seeing it is as a moment to really explore how you dress and an opportunity to take a deep dive into your own personal style. A chance to look at how you wear what you wear rather than a focus on who or what you are wearing. An opportunity in other words to develop ‘brand you’.

VIP: Very Important Pieces-1

So good place to start on this journey would be undertaking an ‘inventory’ of what you already have in your wardrobe and identifying the pieces you really can’t live without. I started out with a  ‘Desert Island Dozen’ idea in mind when looking at mine but full disclosure I couldn’t seem to get below 15 … so let’s just call them VIPs (very important pieces) and be done with In essence it’s those hero items that help  you navigate life feeling put together/good about yourself/powerful and so forth. Here are mine in no particular order. Black belted coat (Chalayan); khaki military jacket (Junya Watanabe); black midi skirt (Gabriela Hearst), black tux jacket (Racil); black high waisted pants and cream fitted sweater (both Jacquemus); classic indigo jeans (Khaite); black dress (Prada), black fitted turtleneck (Raey), black silk blouse (Arket); Wide leg pants in navy (Stella); two trench coats one beige, one navy (APC), navy cashmere sweater (Uniqlo) and a mens blue shirt (Thomas Pink). So, a varied mix of brands, price points and sustainability credentials but all pieces that I currently wear on constant rotation and some of which have had for a number of years.

VIP: Very Important Pieces-2

Your VIPS of course might look wildly different and involve leopard print, clashing prints and lashings of embellishment. life would be very dull after all if we all looked the same. But the point is you now have an idea of what your style MO is … the foundations on which to build the rest of your ‘brand you’ around and the things that when they finally wear out you can in good conscience replace knowing you will wear them again and again.

VIP: Very Important Pieces-3

And so, onto the detail: how to individualise your look and inject your ‘personal style’ into your VIPs.  Accessories are a key part of this yes but note that doesn’t mean going out and blowing your budget on the latest must have bag or shoes (though again if it’s something you know will become an essential piece of the puzzle then it’s worth considering). But in the words of Christian Dior ‘It is not money that makes you well dressed, it is understanding’ and to help understand what works for you I’d suggest as a fun exercise try mood boarding you … whether it’s s looking at street style images or retro style icons or anyone who’s personal style you admire.

Take note of what it is you love about the look. It could be how they wear a shirt, tie a scarf, their jewellery choices or an interesting colour combination. Or it could simply be their attitude, the fact that what they are wearing appears secondary to how they look. That’s what’s great personal style is all about after all … noticing the person before you notice what they have on. So, whether it’s Edie Bouvier wearing a sweater turban style in Grey Gardens or the perennially cool louche style of Lou Dillon in men’s tailoring or just someone you spot on the the street wearing a pair of jeans just so … take notes then have a play around and see where you end up. In the words of Dolly Parton in other words ‘Find out who you are and do it on purpose’.

So, voila there you have it. The start of your journey embracing buying less, buying better and being the best version of you. And hopefully having a whole lot of fun in the process.