Once upon a time I owned a large stack of back issues of magazines - like, hip height. And, okay, two stacks. Then a dark day arrived in the life of Megan, and I had to move house. Turns out, magazines are REALLY heavy, and when your physique is born of a steady routine of sitting down, eating muffins and/or danishes for breakfast, and driving two blocks to buy takeaways, heavy boxes are not what you want.
So, it was time to think about why I had those magazines, and decide what to do with them. The "why" was, as always, a terrible glimpse into my psyche. I was keeping those magazines because I believed I would want to look at them again, despite never having looked at them after I put them on the pile. Clearly, I needed to develop a better approach, one that would actually allow me to look at all the pretty things.
Which brings me to the images above. I mercilessly ripped out every picture I liked, put them in a folder and disposed of everything else. It revolutionised my life, and for the next several years I would tear out the pages of magazines I'd finished reading and add them to the folder.
I suspect many of you are wondering why on earth I would want to keep hundreds of pages of magazines, some of which are now over a decade old. If you've read my blogpost about my Mum, you'll understand that I've loved style and fashion for longer than I've had that stack of magazines. Me looking at pictures of clothes is the equivalent of a bird watcher reading Ornithology Now.
Imagine my delight when Pinterest turned up. It's no replacement for editorial that contextualises the images you're looking at (although you can click through the images to underlying articles), but it certainly gives you lots of things to look at and analyse, and then pin to your Boards. It's so easy to dip into and, if you're not me and you're really organised, it's a great way to organise a lot of otherwise disparate images into categories, themes or concepts. Over time, you build a chronology of things you've liked the look of, and much like the hilarity that is looking back at your early years on Facebook, this allows you to watch your style favourites evolving.
What I've realised recently is that years of choosing, and staring at, pictures has inadvertently trained my brain to recognise things I like. I think this creates two benefits:
- I am an incredibly decisive shopper. I know so many women hate shopping for clothes, because it's overwhelming and, basically, they don't know what they like. I can now walk, at pace, through a shop and scan the room. It's very rare to see me holding something up and thinking "but do I like this?".
- Although I don't remember the specifics of every outfit I look at, my brain retains some level of memory of those outfits and so when I'm looking at a massive rack of random tops in Savemart (or similar), I can assess quickly whether the top I've just dragged out from the melee will be able to be turned into an outfit with things I already have.
I also think it's made me more adventurous and confident in my style. There's nothing like seeing literally hundreds of images of women wearing slightly mad things while they're at Paris fashion week to completely skew your sense of what amounts to "work appropriate".
My folder of magazine tears still exists and no doubt will continue to slowly grow over time. I flip through it, completely, about twice a year, and every so often when I need an inspiration rev-up I'll pull out a miscellaneous chunk of pages and flip through them, select a few favourites, and use them as the basis of an "outfit concept". I have really noticed that some of the images have gone from being favourites, to being totally out of favour, to being back in style, and it's highlighted to me the cyclical nature of fashion. Further proof of my theory that buying things you like is way more important than worrying what's on trend right now.
Both my magazine approach and my Pinterest love have built in issues. Magazines obviously publish what's new, and so if you don't branch out in your choice of publications, you end up with fairly consistent images from a particular period, rather than a range of different looks. While Pinterest is searchable, I have not worked out how to search effectively, so every time I enter something like "yellow skirt" I end up with hundreds of images of yellow skirts I want to burn in a fire. Pinterest also builds a front page for you based on what you've previously pinned, and on the pinners you follow, which I've noticed becomes a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy - the more you look at mad sequinned pants and skirts, the more Pinterest seems to show them to you.
I've also created non-fashion boards on Pinterest where I can just capture things that I like the look of, and which feed the bit of my brain that just really likes to look at things it considers aesthetically pleasing. That's the thing - there's no learning, unless you want to dig a bit deeper, there's just endless visual stimulation. It can tire out your brain, so it's an activity that doesn't suit particular times (pro tip: do not have a Pinterest sesh first thing on a work day), but looking at fashion for a few minutes here and there and consciously selecting the things you like does make fashion and style much more accessible and penetrable in the long term.
This post is not sponsored by Pinterest