RebeccArmstrong: Looking the part can, quite literally, shed the pounds

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The Independent Online

I'd never really bought into the adage "beware of all enterprises that require new clothes". In the past I thought that a recently purchased bag, belt or top adds a spring in one's step that's useful if the enterprise in question is a job interview ("you think my accessorising is good? Just wait until you see what I can do with a spreadsheet!") or a frenemy's wedding ("this incredibly flattering dress? Oh, I've had it for ages"). Of course, buying new shoes for a specific event is madness, because any of the magic bestowed by shiny, fresh footwear is fatally undermined by limping and wincing.

One of the best aspects of taking up something you've never tried before is the fact that it's a great excuse to get a hold of some highly specific accessories. When I first took up indoor climbing some years ago, the possibilities for new stuff were thrillingly huge – harness, climbing shoes, chalk bag, ropes even. All justified because obviously you need all these brilliant bits in order to climb better and higher (and boo hiss to anyone muttering "all the gear but no idea").

But recently I've been attempting to curb my event-based spending excesses. A work-related charity bash with a black-tie dress code last week saw me dutifully digging out a trusty old black lace dress rather than splurging on something floorlength and fabulous. But my savvy sartorial saving was marred by the fact that I realised too late that the elbows were fatally wounded by previous nights out and riddled with holes.

One area where I was convinced I was ahead of the game was with my new obsession, running. Billed as the cheap way to keep fit (no gym membership, no harnesses or safety helmets), I thought I had everything I needed to pound the pavement – some old tracksuit trousers, a T-shirt, trainers and headphones. Tick, tick, tick, tick.

And yet... the more you do something, the more you realise that certain items, while not essential, would certainly make things more comfortable (a lightweight running top that makes you less of a sweaty beast; a hand-friendly water bottle), more convenient (an armband to hold an iPhone snugly in place, a – whisper it – bumbag for keys and cash), or just a bit jollier (pumping new tunes at 59p a pop to update my "run for it" playlist). And don't talk to me about the fancy, barely there Vibram trainers that mimic barefoot running that have just taken a bite out of my bank balance. They might not make me limp, but the receipt is definitely making me wince.

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