When I was packing up my house in Michigan a few months ago, I realized that we had accumulated a lot. Like, a lot, of stuff. So much we actually ended up donating about 50% of it to a local charity.
You don’t really realize how much stuff you have until you go to move and pack it all up.
Of course one of those things that needed packing was my closet. While it was small, it was filled to the brim with things. I did a closet clean-out and re-organization just recently but it was still stuffed.
While I was boxing everything up and cleaning out the closet, once again, I realized that most of the things I owned I didn’t really love and that I wanted to make a change to the way I shop and add things to my new closet.
I’ve mentioned before that I’m trying to stop the impulse buying, buying things that are cute and on sale but don’t really love, and the “well it looks good on her so I’m gunna get it” mentality. I’ve also been trying to get better at returning things that I realized, after the fact, that I don’t really love or that doesn’t really fit.
I want to build a wardrobe of things that fit, are flattering, that I love, and that are timeless and can be transformed into many, many different outfits.
All that being said… here’s some shopping rules I’m adopting in the hopes that my closet and my wallet will thank me.
Buy Things That Fit
Not every body type is created equal and just because it looks great on one person does not mean that it will fit the same and look great on me.
I do a ton of online shopping (hello, 4 kids) and so I don’t get the chance to try things on before I buy them. Even if I do get out with the kids it’s super difficult to get into the dressing room to try things on.
Now, instead of just hanging it in the closet and hoping for the best later (only to find out it doesn’t work) I’ve been getting better about making sure to try everything on, how I would wear it, before hanging it in the closet. If it doesn’t fit or I don’t like how it looks on me, it goes back.
Not to mention that professional alterations can get expensive. Thankfully, my mom taught me how to sew and do basic alterations so I can offset this cost a bit. If I find that something doesn’t fit and if I cannot alter it, then I take it back.
Say No to Sales
Well, you don’t really have to say no to sales but you shouldn’t let a sale be your deciding factor to buying something. This is the one I have the hardest time with… I mean, who doesn’t love a good sale?
However, at the end of the year because of all of the sale and impulse shopping I’m left with a huge pile of donations. Many of which still have the tags on them because I realized that after I put it on I didn’t really like it or it didn’t fit me properly.
On the flip side of that, if there is something that you truly love, know fits, and is on sale then go ahead and grab it. For example, this J.Crew coat that I have been eyeing for more than 3 years and finally pulled the trigger on (while on sale) is a staple that I can see myself getting many, many years out of.
But don’t buy things just because they are on sale.
Buy Things I Love
I guess you could take a tip from Marie Kondo for this one… if it doesn’t bring you joy when you see it, don’t buy it. Try and practice self-control and either walk away before buying or closing the browser tab.
This is something that I’m also trying to get better at. I would put any and all things in my cart even if I just felt “meh” about it. I would then take it home, not try it on, and it would sit in my closet until the new year and then get cleaned out and donated.
I’ve realized over the years that the things that I really love have stood the test of time and are staples in my closet. I have this jacket from Guess Factory that I could not stop thinking about, so I bought it. I absolutely love it, it’s gotten a ton of use, and have had it for about 8 years now.
Do I really need 8 sweaters if you live in a hot climate where it only gets cold for 1 month out of the year?
No, probably not.
One question I try and ask myself is ” will I wear this more than once?” If the answer is no, then I pass.
After implementing my reverse-hanger trick back in 2013 it’s been much easier to physically see the things that I really wear and the things that I don’t. I use this as a gauge to help tell me what I really love and what was more of an impulse buy.
Buy Quality Over Quantity
It’s so much better to have 1-2 quality pieces that will last you for years than 5-6 that you know will fall apart after just a few washes or don’t fit properly.
Classic staples that you know will stand the test of time and carry through year after year will always be better than super trendy pieces that will only last one or two seasons.
Of course, you can buy a couple pieces to change up your wardrobe and give it a little pop but don’t buy all the fast fashion all the time.
This is definitely one area where I’m still struggling because fast fashion is cheap, looks cute, and can be worn multiple ways sometimes. However, it’s cheap and most of the time it doesn’t last very long… which I’m learning with a lot of the items in my closet now. Instead, I’m trying to replace those fast fashion pieces with quality things that will last longer.
Buy Things That Are Versatile
Before checking out with that cart ask yourself, “does this piece complement anything else in my closet currently?” If the answer is no, then it’s probably best to leave it. You want pieces that pair well with other items in your current wardrobe.
Of course, the exception to this rule is that if you are building a new wardrobe from scratch. Then you need to decide if it is versatile enough to wear with many different things or more than one way.
I’ve been good about this over the years with the exception of sweaters. I can’t really layer sweaters too many different ways but just about everything else in my closet can be worn more than once and in a variety of ways.
Buy Things You Feel Good In
Just because it looks good on the size 0 model or fashion blogger that you follow, does not mean that it will look good on you. Yes, of course, sometimes it does. However, more often than not I see myself in the same outfit and it looks nothing like the model wore it.
Or maybe it does fit and look good but you just don’t feel comfortable in it. Maybe you keep pulling at the neckline because it’s too high or too low. Maybe you keep pulling at the waistband of those leggings because they roll down every time you bend over. Or the rise on the jeans is too high and digging into your belly button or too low and you find yourself pulling up your pants all the time.
I’m learning to return things like that instead of thinking that I’ll make it work and then hanging it in my closet anyway. They don’t belong in my closet because they are making me feel uncomfortable.
Set a Budget
Last but definitely not least is setting a budget. I am really terrible about setting a budget but I’ve gotten better. Instead of spending freely and going to TJ Maxx just because I feel like it, I’m trying to set myself a monthly budget and stick to it.
I also try and make a list of things that I really want or need to buy and then find quality pieces. It helps to stay focused on what I have and what I can spend. If I don’t have any more money in the budget for the month then I don’t buy anything else.
There you have it… the list of shopping rules I’m adopting. Some of these I’m doing great at while others still need a lot of work.
What shopping rules do you set for yourself?