Remember the days when ah bengs used to wear bell bottomed jeans and carry JPG wallets? Well, Singapore has come a long way from its dodgy fashion past. These days, as much as we like to berate locals for wearing T-shirts and shorts everywhere and then complain that the weather is too hot for us to dress up like Kpop stars, there are actually quite a lot of well-dressed people walking around.
What’s more, in addition to the Chanels and Pradas, we have so many H&Ms and Uniqlos it’s becoming a bit of a joke. Before you sacrifice your shot at retirement for the sake of looking fabulous, here are four ways fashion consumerism is making people go broke in Singapore.
1. Spending indiscriminately on fast fashion
Remember the days when gladiator sandals crawling all the way up to the knee were in fashion? Or when people used to wear leggings as pants? Or Abercrombie t-shirts that people bought from FOS, the Factory Outlet Store? Those trends came and, thankfully, went, leaving in their wake scores of broke Singaporeans who had spent all their money to create a “look” that now looks, well, ridiculous.
The problem with buying into fashion trends indiscriminately is that you end up with a whole lot of poor quality clothing that looks ridiculous after 12 months. Some trends, like the skinny jeans silhouette, have lasted a long time. Some, like the Breton striped shirt, are classic enough to remain respectable-looking long after the trend has died. But others, like trucker caps and giant nerd glasses with no lenses, will make you pray there are no photos of yourself from that era floating around.
If you’re going to update your look every now and then, go for trends that will stand the test of time, and items that you can continue to use long after the fashion magazines have dropped the look from their pages.
2. Succumbing to sales
There’s nothing that gets an Office Lady more excited than the prospect of another Mango sale. Although the Great Singapore Sale has lost its luster, Singaporeans still go nuts when there’s a sale at their favourite retail store. The trouble with shopping sales is that you tend to buy a lot of crap you don’t really like that much just because it’s so “cheap” now.
That bodice top that looks like it belongs in a gogo bar might have cost only $20, down from its original price of $90, but we still think $20 is a lot to pay for a kitchen rag.
3. The lure of online shopping
You might be the biggest shopaholic around, but if you have poor stamina and your legs just won’t carry you as far as you’d like in a shopping mall, your own low fitness levels can actually force you to spend less. On the other hand, when you’re shopping online unless you have very serious finger cramps which prevent you from clicking, you can easily browse multiple online stores at once and rack up much more damage in a short space of time.
To make matters worse, not being able to see the physical items you’re buying makes it all too easy to go nuts without realising just how much you’re spending.
4. Being afraid to be seen in the same outfit too many times
If you are going to spend $800 on a pair of designer shoes, you’d better wear them 24/7, even in the shower or in bed, to get as much utility out of them as possible. Unfortunately, that’s not really how things work with fashion. In fact, many people who shop compulsively don’t like to be seen wearing the same thing more than once, and part of the reason they’re driven to buy so much is the fact that they want as much variety in their wardrobes as possible.
The only way out of this jam is to train yourself mentally to get used to wearing a few signature looks (a “uniform”, if you will), and to not freak out if you’re seen in the same thing too many times. The first few times you’ll be cringing deep down, but it’s something you get used to, fast.
5. Buying items without evaluating how practical they really are
If you’ve ever bought anything of the following: colourful rain boots, a trench coat or anything you told yourself you could wear on Halloween, you’ve fallen into the trap of buying items that look irresistible but actually have zero practical value. Your mind tries to trick you into buying the item by reassuring you that there will be that special occasion when you’ll have a chance to finally bust out your purple tuxedo or your feather boa. Well, yeah, maybe when you switch careers and become a pimp or cabaret dancer.
Seriously, if you want to continue being a fashionista without busting your budget, evaluate every item to determine how many times you’ll realistically get to use it in a year before buying. If you’re going to be spending all your money on clothes, at least let it go to stuff you’ll actually use, rather than rubbish you’re going to try to offload on Carousell.
MoneySmart.sg is Singapore's leading personal finance portal that helps you to maximize your money. Like us on Facebook to keep up to date with our latest news and articles. Compare and shop for the best deals on Loans, Insurance and Credit Cards on our site now!