Investing in new clothes is a process that takes several steps. While splurging on yourself can be fun, you should always keep in mind how practical your new purchase will really be. Keep your inner shopaholic in check by asking yourself a few pre-purchase questions like these:
How Often Will I Wear This?
Sure, the sequined shawl you found at the mall is cute — but how often will you really have an occasion to wear it? Making yourself think about how much use you can get from an item turns that inner shopaholic into a more practical spender.
If the item in your hands doesn’t have a practical application in your everyday life, it might just end up pushed into the back of the closet — forgotten and taking up valuable space until you rediscover it and dump it at the thrift store.
Am I Buying This Because It’s on Sale?
It’s easy to fall into the trap of buying things because you think they have a good price. Far too often we find ourselves thinking that it would be a waste not to buy something that is discounted. However, some items don’t deserve to be given a space in the closet — even if they are on sale.
Ask yourself if you would buy the same item at full price or if you only want it because it seems like a steal. Do you really need that ski jacket? Do you even like skiing? If you realize that you would never buy that article of clothing at full price, put it back on the rack.
Do I Have Anything to Go With This?
Occasionally we find ourselves pining over a piece of clothing and suddenly realize that it doesn’t match anything else in our wardrobe. This faces us with a new dilemma having to buy something else to go with the new purchase.
If you don’t have something to match the clothing object of your desire, you could easily get caught up in shopping momentum — when you justify an initial purchase, you’ll more easily justify additional purchases. You buy the dress you don’t have anything to match, then you buy shoes to go with it and then you buy jewelry to match — you end up spending way more than you intended on items you didn’t even need.
Do I Have Something Like This Already?
As the owner of several little black dresses I know how easy it can be to fall into the habit of buying clothes similar to something you already own. When you find something you love, ask yourself what you like about it and if you already own something similar.
Similarity isn’t only about looking the same: Articles of clothing that function the same as ones you already own will most likely just hog space in your wardrobe.
What’s the Upkeep for This Item?
Does your interesting find require special care? Factoring in the cost of upkeep will reign in your urge to spend wildly.
If the article of clothing is dry clean only, do you have the means to keep it maintained? You must consider the cost of dry cleaning as well as the time it takes to be cleaned and returned. If dry cleaning regularly is too much of a hassle, your new buy just might spend most of its life in the back of your closet.
Will This Go Out of Style Soon?
Most of us can’t resist a stylish trend, but the problem with trends is that they change — often more quickly than we can afford to upgrade our wardrobe.
Buying classic items is almost always a good investment because these pieces of clothing can be worn indefinitely without making their wearer look like a confused time traveler. The trendier an item is the less you should pay: It could be completely out of style in as little as a few months.
Does This Fit Right Now?
One of the worst reasons we buy clothes that we end up never wearing is because we buy clothes for our “future self.” You know, the “you” who has been hitting the gym regularly and finally lost those stubborn pounds. But future you isn’t in the dressing room. Buying clothes that may eventually fit is an easy way to spend money on clothes that you’ll never get any use from.
Buy clothes in your current size and be honest with yourself about how they fit. If you find yourself thinking that you can justify the purchase because the clothes will eventually fit correctly, you should set that outfit back on the rack and look for another one that fits you now.
Shopping on a budget is an exercise in self-restraint, but it can reward the persistent. Using these guidelines will lead to more productive shopping and a sharp drop in buyer’s remorse.
Photo Credit: Miss Karen
Karen Kinnane says
I do consider these things as I stare at the piles of new or like new natural fabric clothing carefully displayed for sale at pennies on the dollar at yard sales, estate sales and in thrift shops in middle and upper class neighborhoods. When a beautiful all wool sweater, worn once or twice and back from the dry cleaner in the plastic is $2. or $4., I do think of the above things, briefly. But since the acquisition cost is so low, I don’t have to think real hard. Sometimes I wear the sweater a few time and then discard it in a charity box because it doesn’t matter. If I really like the item, then I have it dry cleaned or washed, whatever is indicated, and use it for a while longer. What amazes me is the sometimes thousands of dollars of beautiful clothing for sale at these venues, for a minute fraction of the original cost. The acquisition cost of the clothing by the original buyers is quite staggering to discard the unused or barely used clothing so cheaply at a yard sale. Many items have labels and they could have been returned to the store for a refund, but the owners were too busy or uninterested. I also try never to buy anything new imported from China because of the balance of trade and my animus towards Communism. But buying a China made item in excellent shape from an American who did buy it new is different, I can do that with a clear conscience because my money (a tiny amount compared to what the thing cost new) goes directly into the pocket of a fellow American.
Len Penzo says
When I was in college about 1000 years ago, I bought a lot of my clothes at thrift shops. I used find some really cool shirts — but I especially loved the skinny ties!
A friend bought a beautiful, custom made mink coat at a charity thrift shop–$50. When she put it in cold storage for the summer, the furrier said it was very high quality, and had always been stored correctly.
Len Penzo says
I’m not surprised. There are lots of good finds to be had at them!
Mr. Dave and I are being cremated. We’re being made into ties. We’ve got you covered. lol
I always try to consider what I already own. How much wear will I get out of this, and will it be comfortable for lounge wear. Trust me folks! Elastic waists are your friend.
Thanks for this. Looking at a piece of clothing you are thinking of buying and if you have something similar seems really beneficial — especially if it can help you understand exactly what clothes you do really need.