I recently had the privilege to ask a new friend a few interesting questions regarding her passion for fashion. At SunkissedBlog we are trying to showcase local talent & introduce to you some of the #GirlBosses we have in our midst.
Louise van der Merwe is a teacher by day & fashion blogger by night, that recently started The Look For Less on Instagram. She is notoriously known for her collection of vintage clothes, colourful Instagram posts and her love for Dunkin’ Donuts. She explores fashion trends & shares her current obsessions without breaking the bank. With an impressive collection of perfectly styled photos and a sleek and rocking wardrobe to boot, I couldn’t wait to get to get a glimpse inside the life of an up and coming South African fashion blogger. From favourite bloggers to life as a teacher, I asked her about all things fashion & more.
Get to know Louise by checking what she had to say below as well as some images of her personal gallery:
Hi Louise, could you start by telling us a bit more about yourself?
I am 25 years old. I grew up in a small town called Villiersdorp on a farm. I am a Grade 1 teacher and although my job is challenging at times, I love making a difference in young minds. I will describe myself as a very caring and loving person. I sometimes tend to care and over think too much, which can be a good and a bad thing. I don’t like cooking, I am not an adrenaline junkie, I don’t play sports, but ask me to go dancing and I’ll ask, what time? Since I was a young girl, fashion, pretty and vintage things have always tickled my fancy.
Since you’re a teacher by day, what inspired you to start The Look For Less blog on Instagram?
Having a teacher’s salary and having to pay my own rent and monthly debit orders, I don’t have a lot of money left to spend on clothes and my social life. I have to choose wisely between what clothes I need and what I want, what events I need to attend and those that I want to attend. This is something that took me a very long time to achieve. I went off the wagon with my credit card, maxed it, and learned the hard way that you can’t have it all.
I used to go to Zara and convince myself that I need certain items I loved, and believe me I love everything in that store. I would swipe my credit card and buy 2 or 3 items at a time and tell myself that the next month, I won’t buy anything and pay off my debt. It became a vicious circle, and I got caught up in it. It was pure stupidity and I should have asked for help instead of telling myself I will handle it. I really tried to get myself out of it, I tried not to buy more things, but at the end I used my long term savings to pay off the debt, and decided to live within my means.
I had the idea for the page for a very long time, but was too afraid to pursue it. As soon as the pawpaw hit the fan regarding my credit card, I knew I had no backup plan anymore and I had to make a change. I thought this would be a great way for me to put my love for fashion to good use and help others find a good bargain. I don’t make impulsive decisions anymore and sourcing the clothes, and returning them, actually helps me to shop less. Now it is my “hobby” and something I love doing, besides my regular profession as a teacher.
Name the most important thing regarding budget shopping?
I can literally write a book about this after my experience, but I’ll try to keep it short.
First of all do not buy things on credit if you don’t have the self-discipline to control it. When you want to buy something and you are uncertain about the item, leave it. Do not be impulsive, you will end up buying a bunch of things you want, but don’t need. Before you buy a new top for example, even if it’s a bargain, first think if the item can work with something you already own. If you have to buy shoes and pants to go with the top, it’s not a bargain anymore.
Set out a monthly amount for yourself that you can use purely for clothes. Let’s say your budget is R800 per month, and you go to Zara and buy a Jacket for R799, it’s your choice, you can buy it, but that is all you will have. If you choose to go to The Fix and rather buy a top, a jean and shoes with your R800, that’s also your choice, but STICK TO YOUR BUDGET.
It is a great feeling, finding a great bargain, but don’t convince yourself you need it, just because it’s a bargain. Don’t be narrow minded when you are a budget shopper, look in different shops and compare prices. A sale is just an excuse to buy a bunch of stuff you don’t need. This is the most important one. January sales are around the corner, be strong and if you really need something go for it, but don’t lose sight of your budget.
What do you splurge on?
Definitely shoes, I won’t mind splurging on a pair I really like. I am also very observant of people’s shoes; I make shoe contact before I make eye contact.
Is there any fashion rules you always obey when putting an outfit together?
Nothing in particular I can think of. Sometimes I think I actually break some of the well-known rules. I mix red and pink, I do wear print on print and my shoes do not always match my bag. I think fashion rules are just guidelines and that it all depend on the outfit. What I do know is that I always look in the mirror to see if what I envisioned actually works. I am short so often things I thought would look great together, fail completely.
Is there a person that is a fashion inspiration to you?
I think I find my fashion inspiration from various people. I don’t have one specific person I obsess over. Sometimes I love something that Selena Gomez is wearing, the next day I will see Kendal Jenner wearing something I love. I also follow Caroline Daur, Danielle Bernestein, Sonia Lyson on Instagram. They are all fashion bloggers so it’s their job to be on trend, so I really love looking at what they are up to and how they style trendy items.
What’s your next fashion must have?
Well, considering it’s Summer and espadrilles are really trendy right now, I think that’s my next must have for Summer.
What’s the biggest tip you have for anyone wanting to look fashionable for less?
I think before you can look fashionable, whether it is a look for less or not, it is important to first of all know your own style. You need to know what you like, what suits your body type and what is age appropriate. If you hate fishnet stockings for example, and you have no clue how to pair it with other items in your closet, don’t buy it. If it looks forced and it does not suit your personality and style, don’t go there, because then even though you are wearing something trendy, it might not be stylish at all.
When you are certain what your style is, what looks good on you and what you like, it is much easier to see trendy items and decide what you want to buy and what you would rather give a skip. Being fashionable for less is all about looking in the right places and mixing and matching. A fashionable shirt in MRP might look cheap, but if you mix and match it correctly with items in your closet, it can make the shirt look much more expensive. If you know flare pants are very in right now and it would look great on you, you know how to style it, but you are on a budget, look around in different stores and compare prices. Don’t go to the first store you can think of and make impulsive decisions, have a look in different stores to find the look for less.
What has been your biggest challenge about fashion blogging?
Fashion is a very tough industry and with blogging it is very unpredictable. There are a lot of fashion and lifestyle pages on social media, and it is hard to stand out. The one day your post is on fire and people respond well to it, the next day, when you think okay, this one will be the same, maybe even better, people might have a poor response to it. You never know how people are going to react and I’ve learned that I can definitely not please everyone. Some people are going to be haters, while others will be super supportive and love the concept. Progression is slow and you just have to be patient and keep going.
Where do you see The Look For Less in the next five years?
It’s hard to say because I am really taking it day by day. It’s not my source of income at the moment; it’s more like a hobby. If it was my 9 to 5 job, I could probably do a lot more and focus all of my energy on The Look For Less. I have a lot of ideas of how I can expand my page, and there are a few things I want to do and accomplish. Hopefully in the next five years, my page will still be going strong and I’ll be doing collaborations with local brands and stores and maybe even get paid for my efforts and free marketing.
What is one thing readers would be surprised to hear about you?
I think a lot of people will be surprised to hear that I was never planning on being my own model for my page. I wanted to use different girls with different body types, I even thought of giving a pregnant lady the look for less for example. I talked to a few people and after a few discussions I realised, I had to be the face of my own brand. I thought about giving up my idea, because I am definitely not a model, but decided to see the bigger picture. People might look at my page and think “well, here goes another girl just trying to be a model, wanting to be famous on Instagram”. It’s definitely not the case. I take my page very seriously; I want to make something of it I have a lot of insecurities just like the next girl in the room. Through this page, I actually learned to accept myself more and to just go for it, no matter what other people might think.
- Current fashion obsession?
- Celebrity style crush?
–Caroline Daur and Sonia Lyson (both fashion bloggers)
- What type of camera do you use?
– iPhone 7 Plus
- Coffee or Tea?
- Heels or Flats?
- Marilyn Monroe or Audrey Hepburn?
– Audrey Hepburn
- The first thing I do in the morning is…
–Press snooze for 5 minutes
- I would never leave home without… .
–Wearing earrings. I always feel like something’s missing when I don’t have any earrings on.
- Who takes your photos?
–My boyfriend, Lascar Scott. He has no photography background, but does a great job and he is super supportive.
- The best thing about South African labels are….
–That they are affordable and that they try to give consumers the latest trends for less
- My guilty pleasure is…
–Chocolate Cake and Dunkin Donuts
- My favourite beauty essential is…
–Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick
- Top 5 style steals
– Flare Jeans
– High Leg Bikini Bottoms
-Ripped Jeans and Fishnets
Be sure to show this pretty lady some love on Instagram & tag us using the hashtag #SunkissedBlogSA when you shop your look for less.
*Photos were provided by Louise