8.11.12

Regulating consumerism: Achieving a wearable wardrobe

My wardrobe goes through various phases.  At times I accumulate and hoard. Not excessively mind you, what I mean is that I don't clean out items that are unworn when I know there time to go has been exceeded.  Other times I cleanse my wardrobe space to the point of bareness.  Sell sell sell!  It seems I struggle with balance. The point that the wardrobe doesn't contain too much, too little and all is worn regularly. To me, a great wardrobe isn't necessarily one that is bursting at the seams.  I think the older you get, the wiser you get, and a couple of excessive, bank-breaking spends on un-needed and impromptu purchases (especially when I was younger and more care free) tends to make one sit up and recognise that a personal intervention is needed.  

There are a few steps that I actually had to realize for myself to regulate and take control of my consumerism, if for no other reason, than to be 'responsible'.  Plus, although I would say I'm not hard done by, my earnings would realistically sit within the median range, not within the top bracket.  I have champagne taste on a lemonade budget so to speak.  Believe me many of the items in this list I personally struggle with.  Especially when it comes to the opportunity to add to my shoes all logic goes out the window.  Hi... my name is Mandi and I'm a shoe-a-holic. Ok... so I'm in the initial stages with this one.  Does repeating step 1 (admitting I have a problem) considered making progress?






I get asked quite often how I afford my wardrobe or how I pick or find my items.  So I thought I would share the many lessons I have learned that have helped me live within my means (ie. not spending more than I earn), how I facilitate my purchases, have some gorgeous items and still have spare change.  The lists below are all questions and ultimately realizations I've personally been through and will not apply to everyone (there's no one size fits all model here), but I find it's an interesting topic to discuss none-the-less.  I'm keen to hear your thoughts on how you regulate your consumerism and achieve wardrobe 'zen'.  So please feel free to comment and share...  Be warned... this is a long winded post!


  1. SHOULD I BUY DESIGNER ITEMS?

A great wardrobe doesn't have to consist of all designer labels, the latest item hot from the runway or the current 'it' designer.  Far from it.  I believe in buying what I like and what suits my body and lifestyle. 'It' designers you will ultimately pay a premium price for which is fine if you love the item and you have the means.  Just keep in mind that 'it' designers are hot one minute and out of favour normally within a season or two.  So if you are buying solely because it's the hot 'label of the moment', any value the item once had will ultimately fall through the floor when the next 'hot designer' craze takes hold. 

Buying a brand name that is popular does help on-sell an item when you're done with it. But if the intention is to keep it long term, knowing that you won't tire of it, then it really doesn't matter whether it's designer, high street, vintage or op shop.  At the end of the day, buying and wearing 'designer' doesn't make you a better or happier person so my best advice is, buy what you like regardless of a label.


  2.  BUY WHAT YOU NEED, WEAR WHAT YOU BUY

Quantity doesn't make for a better wardrobe, it just makes for more choices, but often leads to an overwhelming sense (illogically so) of 'I have nothing to wear'.  I know when I had an overflowing wardrobe in my early 20's, I realistically wore maybe 40% of it and 20% of it often.  Now, my wardrobe is not overflowing (with the exception of my shoes).  I tend to look at what's missing in my wardrobe and what I need prior to buying these days. Don't get me wrong, loads of items take my fancy but when I look to my wardrobe, I realize they won't go with anything else or simply won't get worn. What you 'need' is a personal question.  I realize we don't 'need' most of what we buy. Maybe the simpler question to answer is 'what will you wear'? 


  3.   LEARN TO SELL

I deal with my consumerism by selling existing older items that I don't use any more or often enough in order to subsidise the purchase of something new.  This helps to ensure that money is two directional (incoming as well as outgoing).  It's difficult to sustain purchasing without sales and it avoids being wasteful (having a wardrobe jammed with unused or once loved items).

Learning to sell doesn't just mean listing your item on say eBay.  It means educating yourself on how to list items in order to get the best possible return.  A few tips include using a designer name in the listing title, including the style name of a garment (if it has one and designer items normally do), uploading detailed photographs of the actual item for sale, giving a very specific description on sizing, and adding additional photographs of someone wearing the item to show what it looks like on (this includes editorial photographs, street photography, you name it. The more the better.  When learning to sell, take the time to educate yourself about the possible pitfalls like (buyer scams, postage issues, authenticity claims) as these can be costly.


  4.  DON'T SPEND FOR THE SAKE OF SPENDING

This sounds so simple in theory...  Learning to avoid buying things because there hasn't been something 'new' in a while or just because there is a sale on is often what most women struggle with.  Looking at items a few times and really considering the value of a new item in terms of your wardrobe and lifestyle, prior to purchasing will ultimately assist you to deal impulsive purchasing.  Reducing impulse buys (it's in all of our natures to some extent) is one of the most positive step to getting a better wardrobe and not wasting money.  It's a very confronting experience but one worth dealing with.


  5.  QUALITY vs QUANTITY

Buying five $100 bags that wear quickly, where stitching comes undone or is subject to wear and tear easily (so have to be replaced regularly), will undoubtedly cost you more long term than investing in something of decent quality.  Throw away fashion/poor quality pieces are more prone to fall apart, loose shape, distort and colours run/fade. I prefer quality in major items such as bags, shoes and jackets/coats as they are my hardest worn items which I want to last.  My personal preference would be to have 2-3 great quality items rather than 20 inferior ones. When I say quality, I don't mean that you should go by looking at price tags. There is ample lower priced items of exceptional quality too. It's about looking at the composition and details of an item.  Should you choose to 'invest' in a pricey coat or jacket, consider mixing up what looks you can achieve by varying and  adding simple and cheaper items such as tees and accessorises to diversify your outfit.


  6.  LONGEVITY vs TRENDS

Consider whether you will you tire of the item or if you think it will still be part of your wardrobe in a few years time and on regular rotation.  Is it a seasonal, currently 'in fashion' or a classic, foundation piece?  Look at an items longevity vs trends. There is far less turnover on classically cut or coloured items when compared to those that are fashion forward, unusually cut pieces, ones that have over the top details, crazy prints or glaring colours. Granted we all succumb to trend pieces from time to time, but you can pick these wisely. What can be 'on trend' but not break your bank?  Some trends will just happen to be your personal style and you will wear them regardless of 'what's hot'. If that's the case, the rules change because you are still purchasing an item with a projected long and happy future in your wardrobe.


  7.  BUY WHAT SUITS YOUR OWN PERSONALITY, PHYSIQUE & LIFESTYLE

It's incredibly easy to be influenced by other people's style.  There is a barrage of style 'influencers' in our lives even more so these days with the evolution and accessibility of social media.  Blogs and bloggers, just as other fashion media can be inspirational.  I personally look at many blogs, editorials, runway reviews of fashion and style that I can appreciate.  However, when thinking of who or what influences you, you will make less mistakes when looking for inspiration if you take if from someone that shares your shape, lifestyle and basic style than if you start buying specific items (say a 'cute top')  because it looked so flattering on someone that you are the polar opposite to.  Food for thought... have you considered that the well dressed ultimately only buy what works for them?


  8.  VERSATILITY IS KEY

This is one I struggled with endlessly.  When considering versatility, think in terms of how many items will compliment each other and can be easily mixed and matched? Buying an item that only goes with one or two other items in your wardrobe makes its costs per wear sky rocket and the item spending more time hanging than being worn (we've all been there).  A scatter brained closet will ultimately cause you either to 1) invest more than you need to on buying extra items to 'go with' your new item that just won't go with anything else; and 2) cause you annoyance and lead to the onset of the 'I have nothing to wear syndrome', because realistically although this isn't literally true, lets face it some things just don't (can't... and shouldn't) go together.


  9.  BE REALISTIC WITH WHAT YOU CAN AFFORD & STAY IN CONTROL

Stick to what 'you' can afford.   Budget and set-aside or save, what ever you need to do but the best advice I could possibly give it to stay out of debt for the sake of fashion.  Living in the red will in some shape or form, take its toll on your life. Having the latest bag but having a massive credit card debt in order to subsidize the purchase will ultimately cause you stress.  Is it really worth it?  If you start making it common practice to buy what you can't afford, where does it stop? At $500, $5,000...? There is always an easy justification for "it's not 'that' much more than I'm already paying off". 

I've found it useful to set buying (expenditure) limits. You may like an item (and be able to afford it), but consider if you think the price is worth it?  This is very much a personal assessment.  Some things I put on my wish list I can't justify paying the retail asking price.  I determine what I would pay for them and if they are still available when the sales hit and get reduced to 'my price', then I can buy them. Then and only then. 

A funny and true story about staying in control...  My brother was bidding on an auction on an item that he thought he could get cheaper at auction than in store.  As the bidding got to the final stages, he got so consumed in the 'bidding war', that he ending up winning the item at a price of approximately 30% more than retail!  When pressed about what happened, he said he got carried away and because he and another bidder were constantly putting small increment bids to out do the other, he was focused on 'just adding a little bit more' to win the item, forgetting about its true value. The seller told him directly (without my brother mentioning it) that he had won the item for over retail and he felt guilty.  So the seller reduced the price to just below retail. Honesty and good faith lives on... 


  10.  DON'T 'SETTLE'

If you have your heart truly set on an item and can develop a plan of getting the item or are prepared to tempt fate and wait it out, I say don't settle for a substitute. There have been times in the past (case in point, my Balenciaga leather jacket with the black hardware from approx 2009), where I have wanted an item that was released a few years back and that I missed out on.  Fast forward to 2012 which found me trawling eBay, high end resale stockists, you name it because I just wanted that particular jacket. I know that if I would have bought a different jacket or the same model in a different colour I wouldn't have been content.  It may sound ridiculous, but nothing replaces what you truly want, you just need to figure out your game plan whether that be developing a savings plan to afford your lusted item or searching the globe.  In the event that you can't get what you truly want, learn to let it go.


  11.  RE-SALE VALUE (ties into point 3 - subsidizing new purchase with trading old)

If you are the type of person that regularly updates, clears out and on-sells your wardrobe items then buying designer or popular items that hold their value has its benefits.  A few things to consider when determining what kind of re-sale value your item could have in the future:

1) What designer is it and are do they have a long-standing reputation for achieving high re-sale value? For example a Rolex, Cartier or Omega watch (especially specific designs or limited editions) will hold good value. They are collectibles and some even appreciate in value.  Be mindful that all items for a designer aren't a good investment. Pick your item wisely.

2) Is the item a 'fad' style item or an 'investment'.  Fad items you need to sell whilst they are still in demand so there is a very short turn around required on these. You basically use them and sell them that season.  Classics (the 'investments'), in general, hold value for longer and still return top selling prices. For example, compare a Christopher Kane PVC clutch (2011 release and very 'that season') to a Hermes Birkin.  Enough said!

3) How easy will it be to sell? What kind of market is there for the product and do you have access to that market?  Lower and middle priced items can be easily sold on places like eBay. Higher priced items you need to know what you are doing and assess your risk with places like that. Are you better to take them a store that specialises in high-end re-sale? Do some research on what can go wrong (in terms of shipping, guaranteeing authenticity and protecting yourself against claims).

Keep in mind that these are things 'to consider' only if you intend on re-selling items. If you are the type of person that will buy and hold and item until you wear it out, then re-sale isn't something you would be concerned with.


  12.  BE THRIFTY & BROADEN THE WAY YOU SHOP

This can save you a lot of money but can take more time.  Weigh up would you buy things second hand or even in new condition from somewhere like eBay, op-shops or designer re-sale concept stores instead of shopping normal retail?   Do you search for the best deal on an item or do you buy (and pay more) because its convenient?  Does where you shop have some kind of loyalty system (for example - spend $1,000 get $100 store credit)?  If you are buying online do you understand that buying brands in the country they are designed/originate from normally means you will be able to buy the item cheaper?  If you are buying at a local boutique which has imported an item, are you paying a higher price for it?  By comparing bricks and mortar stores with various online stores you can normally achieve quite large savings.  Look online yourself, compare prices and look for discounts or sales. Brave the brutal end of season sales in stores especially the big department stores. They often have sales they don't put online.  Sign up to online stores so you are notified of sales. It's amazing what you can find in sales these days with anywhere up to 80% off retail it's worth it. This is a brilliant way where that will allow you to have those more expensive items without paying the exorbitant full retail prices. 

If you are new to a forum that allows sales or sites like eBay, here are some things to consider.   Check the condition of the item you’re interested in. Is it new, with or without tags? If used, how much and how has it been laundered?  Has it been altered? Are there any defects or imperfections? A good listing or shop blog will have actual pictures of the item (not just Internet ones) and item descriptions.  Sellers should be able to answer any of your questions before you buy, but do ask them prior to bidding or buying items.


  13. SIZING

Most items I re-sell have sizing issues. I've always had a huge problem with buying one size too big for me which is why I feel I can give this advice.  Be realistic and honest with yourself in relation to sizing. Thinking you can take something in will often change the way and item sits or at times simply can't be one. There is nothing more unflattering than something that is too large or too small. What size is listed on a tag is un-important. You don't have to squeeze your butt into a size 8 when you are a size 10. It will look terrible and no one will know you are wearing a size 8, but they will realise you are wearing a size too small for you. There is also so much variation in 'sizing' these days that size labels aren't credible any how so go by measurements or know your true size in a brand (if possible). Choose what fits!


  14. WHENEVER THERE IS DOUBT, THERE IS NO DOUBT

The point that you are looking at an item is the point where you will probably be the most excited about it.  If you have reservations for any reason, however slight they may be, then don't buy the item.  Yes you will at times think back and wish you would have bought an item that you passed on, but ask yourself, did you really want it or is it more the thought of having missed out? 


  15. LAUNDER & STORE ITEMS APPROPRIATELY

If you abide by these two simple rules, items will look newer for longer, hold better value (should you decide to re-sell them) and they will have far more wearable life in them. I can't stress enough how important it is to invest in good hangers (this doesn't mean expensive, just the correct size).


  16. ROTATE YOUR OWN WARDROBE

Re-discover old or packed away items. Instead of leaving all items out 12 months a year, pack some away for the season (when you're not likely to wear them) and then rotate them back into the wardrobe.  You aren't constantly looking at them this way and strangely enough, I guarantee you will be more excited by them when you un-pack and re-discover them.  


  17. EXCHANGE OR LOAN ITEMS

This comes with various considerations. If you have friends of the same build, with similar fashion taste and who are equally as respectful to items as you are (and open to the entire exchange or loan process), then this can work.  Even if it just for a scarf or a bag on an odd occasion, it's a good way or diversifying your wardrobe without having to spend.


  18.  DE-CLUTTER YOUR CLOSET

You will always be able to put together a better outfit with what you have when your closet isn't in disarray.  Inspiration on what to wear is rarely found in the form of heaped clothes and never found in ones that are forgotten.  You will actually buy less and 'shop' your own closet more often when you have order.  How you streamline things is totally up to you.  Some people use colour coding, others arrange by item type.   As long as you can find things it's at least a step in the right direction. Sounds simple doesn't it...


27 comments:

  1. This is so interesting, thank you for all the tips! I should keep them in mind, hopefully I won't spend to much money on clothes anymore. Xo

    wnyfashion.blogspot.com

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    1. I'm trying to do the same. See how things pan out :) Have a great weekend xx

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  2. this is such a good post! You make so many good points in it!

    I love number 4, I was wondering, hmm I wonder how she reduces impulse buys (my main problem!) but you answered it with the later points, especially point 8. I'm trying to be more mindful when I buy things and think about what I will wear them with. I find having the blog really helps me there as I can see all of the different ways I've worn things. The fact that it's now November and I still have unworn items in my wardrobe that haven't been on the blog is a big warning flag for me! I need to be much more careful with what I buy and reduce my impulse buys. I'm trying to talk myself out of a Bal bracelet right now....I don't NEED it but oh how I want it. Haha!

    AwayFromTheBlue.blogspot.com.au

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    1. Hey Mica, I have done the new with tags things so often its scary! I'm definitely getting better as long as I think 'will this item be practical and suit my lifestyle'. If I don't ask myself that question I end up with a wardrobe of gorgeous yet useless items! Impulse is my problem too but I buy a lot online from places that have exceptional returns so that is really useful. To be able to try an item on at home with other items and if it doesn't suit to be able to send it back without the guilt of facing a shop assistant is a true benefit of shopping online! Ha ha... good luck with the Balenciaga bracelet predicament. xx

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  3. Wow! Fabulous post, Mandi. I've learned so much from your tips. So well written and thought out.

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    1. Thanks Marlene for all of your support (as always). I've made so many shopping mistakes I think I'm a pro at what not to do. I just have to remember to take my own advice! Baby steps... xx

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  4. love the tips girl. agree about dont settle, and dont buy for the sake of buying. You have an amazing collection! xO!
    www.thehautecookie.com

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    1. Ah.. my collection. I've put myself on a shoe ban until at least the end of the year. I really should have implemented it earlier but better late than never xx

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  5. Brilliant post Mandi. I thoroughly enjoyed reading that - it's good to hear such simple basic principles put so succinctly. It must have taken a while to put all that together - there was a lot of thought behind that. Thanks for bringing it home.

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    1. There has definitely been a lot of thought about this recently. Brought on my buying errors and needless purchases that only result in guilt. It's nice to hear others do the same and we are at least recognizing it. Have a great weekend Sue :)

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  6. Woah I love this article, super smart and helpful! You're so right on all levels, especially the quality vs quantity part is something I need to work on haha. Temptations!

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    1. Ha ha... you have an enviable and wearable wardrobe! I think you do extremely well with functional items Lucy xx

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  7. Mandi I absolutely loved this post! Very well thought out and well written, and you raise a number of salient points. I'm like you, champagne taste on a lemonade diet, and sometimes I forget, which isn't great for the old CC, but have been taking this into consideration more and more now. What I've found with selling things is you often forget you ever had it in the first place and won't miss it at all. Currently doing a huge cull and it definitely feels good - my aim is to subsidize the cost of those Chloe boots as my 25th bday present to myself... I havetl ask, did you get yours from forward? And what is the sizing like? x

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    1. Hey Jamie Lee, That's exactly what I did to buy my Chloe's. I loved them for ages but I really couldn't justify the price. I was extremely torn on whether to get them or not. I'm glad I did but I sold a heap of items in my wardrobe to buy mine too. I have to admit that it felt really good to do it that way so I can highly recommend it because they are an expensive purchase. I actually bought mine from Ssense and I know they still have some. I'm normally a size 36 and I went down to the 35. This release run large I would say about a half to full size. Mine are tight so a half size down (35.5) would have been best but I've found they have stretched. I hope this helps and I hope you find a pair for such a special birthday. Happy birthday (in advance) xx

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  8. Absolutely awesome post Mandi! I really loved hearing your point of view on this topic! Thanks for sharing your insights with us!

    xxTheresa

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    1. You always have gorgeous items that suit you Theresa. I think you shop extremely well! Have a great weekend xx

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  9. I can totally relate to everything you wrote. I've been really questioning my consumer spending lately (and that includes IM, too) because I found myself buying lots of high ticket stuff and then either wearing it a couple of times or not at all (not so much IM, but I went a little out of control on her sneakers). I've realized a lot about my own style now that I have a blog, and the biggest thing I realized is that I'm totally drawn to clothes that ultimately are not flattering for my body type. I always look at model street style and LOVE the oversized look, but after seeing myself in photos, I realized that this silhouette is not good for my silhouette.

    I've been really thinking over my purchases lately (including IM now) so that I'm not just impulsively buying things that later collect dust (hello Céline FW12 pumps). Okay, I could write more, but I feel like I've reached my comment limit. :)

    GREAT POST!
    Aliya :)

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    1. Ah yes. Having a blog has many benefits but it definitely was confronting for me too. More after a year or so I realized the error of my 'spending' ways and using the blog as an excuse. I often do the same. Admire something and buy it only to find it looks shocking on me. An age old problem. Choosing a cut that doesn't suit and never has and expecting it to some how look flattering because someone else 'wore it so well'. At least we are learning.... Have a great weekend Aliya :)

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  10. Wow, these are some serious tips. Thank you for sharing.

    http://www.tributetothetribe.com

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  11. Wow! Thanks so much for sharing these wonderful tips! I am planning to read them carefully when things are less hectic, so I am keeping these tips safely stored. ;)

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  12. great advice! in my early 20's i used to have so many clothes, but now i've seriously cut back, although i swear it's because designers aren't doing their jobs as well as they used to ;)

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  13. this is a really good post mandi! something i constantly struggle with too, and based on the comments above looks like I'm not the only one ;) the part i find hardest is selling. probably because it's so labour intensive liquidating a whole load of stuff on ebay i seem to keep putting it off

    steph / absolutely-fuzzy.com

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  14. Love this post, another point to mention is to make it. This year after a huge clear out I decided to make all my clothes( underwear and gym clothes excluded). Not everything has gone to plan but generally speaking fit is better, quality is much better and I am learning a skill. And because it takes a little longer to make and fit an item I don't have the clutter issues. I have even been teaching myself to use couture construction techniques. I am really looking forward to see what I will come up with in another year. My sewing was very basic at the beginning of the year so anyone can do it.

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    1. What an inspiration! Teaching yourself couture construction techniques is seriously impressive and making your own clothes is a huge point that I missed. You can tell I'm hopeless at sewing for missing that one! Thanks so much for adding this one. It's definitely a tip that should be given some serious consideration. I really have to learn to sew.

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  15. Wonderful post Mandi! Comes almost as a huge reality slap in the face haha. Being on a Research scholarship and working a part time job sadly doesn't reward me with the spending power I would dream off. Too often i'm purchasing things I have absolutely no use for or would rarely get the opportunity to wear. These are some very helpful tips here and if you allow, I would love to be able to please share this on our blog RFK.

    K xx

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  16. Wonderful post Mandi! Comes almost as a huge reality slap in the face haha. Being on a Research scholarship and working a part time job sadly doesn't reward me with the spending power I would dream off. Too often i'm purchasing things I have absolutely no use for or would rarely get the opportunity to wear. These are some very helpful tips here and if you allow, I would love to be able to please share this on our blog RFK.

    K xx

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  17. Very well-done thoughtful post. I agree about not settling, because even if you buy a consolation piece, you'll still want what you wanted in the first place. Though I keep my clothes year round (except for my leather or velvet jackets) as I live in a tropical climate. Also I'm guilty of out of sight, out of mind, and I've re-bought things very similar to what I already have because I completely forgot I had it already. That said I have 35974590748 black boots, skirts, and jackets!

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