In today’s fashion world, we are constantly bombarded with new products, and clever marketing campaigns. The simple decision to ‘buy less’ can be really tough to stick too. So, how can we end impulse clothing buys for good?
We have all been guilty of making an impulse purchase we regret. You know the purchases I mean. The orange suede stilettos you purchased on a whim (at a sale) that are so pretty. But they don’t fit your style, your lifestyle or your budget and you watch them gather dust while you experience remorse. Our shopping habits are something we have been cultivating for a lifetime. We can’t change them overnight, but it can be done!
Carefully considering an item before you head to the check-out is a real game changer. I like to plan my shopping and make a seasonal list. Then I ask myself 6 questions to ensure I avoid impulse clothing buys. This has really helped me control my finances and my style and remove some of the emotion from the equation.
BEFORE YOU LEAVE HOME
1 | PLAN
In the blinding excitement of the shopping moment, we overspend or buy things we don’t want, don’t need and never end up using. Why? Because we haven’t prepared properly. Your hard-earnt money and time are precious, so before you start drooling over the next potential addition to your wardrobe, take a few minutes to plan.
- Think about why you want to go shopping? Are you shopping to relieve stress or reward yourself? Is shopping a way to relieve boredom, to have some fun or pass the time? Are you trying to make yourself feel good because of a lack of confidence? Are you simply in search of your next shopping high or do you actually need something? Understanding your motivations, is the first step to prevent impulse purchases that aren’t great for your budget or your wardrobe.
- Carefully review what you already have in your wardrobe and see if there are any ‘gaps’.
- Peruse your favourite online stores so you know what’s out there. If you really feel out of touch, spend a couple of hours browsing (with a no purchase rule), so that you get a feel for what you might like, what looks good on you and what current trends are out there. Then you can walk away, consider your wardrobe carefully and plan your next move.
2 | LEARN YOUR STYLE
Perhaps, this is the most important step of all – learn your style. Being aware of your lifestyle, climate, body type and style preferences makes it so much easier to purchase timeless pieces that you will love for years to come and will wear regularly. You can create your ultimate PERSONAL STYLE GUIDE through my blog.
3 | MAKE A SHOPPING WISH LIST
The most important thing you can do to avoid impulse buys is this:
Decide what you need to buy BEFORE you hit the shops.
Once you can see the ‘gaps’ in your wardrobe, make a seasonal Wardrobe Wish List of the items you feel you need. These new items need to blend seamlessly into your existing wardrobe.
Think of your wardrobe as a collection that you add to over time. Every piece should flow together and represent your personal style. Take note of your favourite pieces and highlight outfits that make you feel on top of the world. Anything you add should either be unique or compliment the styles and silhouettes you most often gravitate to.
Set a budget. I know, I am such a kill joy! You’re much less likely to overspend if you’ve got a figure in mind. Remember, it’s better buying two timeless, pieces that you love than 10 items that aren’t quite right.
Finally, make sure you use your list when you shop (it won’t do much good crumpled at the bottom of your handbag) and only buy items on it.
Before an item makes it onto your list, consider the following:
- DO I REALLY NEED THIS?
Stores and websites are designed to attract us and make us crave the pretty things inside. Before you are pulled into the gravitational force of that new item you just have to have, understand why you want it. Does it meet a genuine need in your closet or is it merely a frivolous want (there’s a big difference between the two). It’s OK to buy something just because you love it, but it’s also good to understand that this is what you’re doing.
- IS THIS ITEM PRACTICAL?
Consider your lifestyle and climate. Where will you wear this? There is no point purchasing your 10th pair of stilettoes if you’re a stay at home mum more likely to head to preschool than out on the town. Just as there is no point owning a woollen coat, when you live in Brisbane – you might get two mornings a year to wear it, at best. Similarly, someone living in England might not have the need for stylish resort wear that I do.
- IS THIS ITEM VERSATILE?
To have your wardrobe work for you, you need pieces that can be worn many different ways. I love items that can be dressed up or down and go from day to night just by changing up the accessories. You should be able to create at least three outfits with a new purchase, if not more, to make it worth your time and money.
Simple and elegant solid colours can help with versatility. If it’s heavily patterned it won’t compliment as many existing items and will go out of fashion more quickly. If it’s a one-off piece for a special occasion, consider renting.
The average Australian purchases 27 kg of new clothing every year and discards around 23 kg into landfill.
Let’s aim to meet the 30 wears challenge. It’s all about buying less, choosing well and making it last. If you can wear something 30 times it will help your wallet and our planet.
- ARE THERE ALTERNATIVES?
In the thrill of the hunt, we rarely consider alternatives. Do you already have something similar? Could you get creative and acquire a comparable item in a different way? Consider swapping clothing items with a friend. There’s no telling when you will hit gold second-hand shopping either – try ebay, gumtree or upmarket designer seconds if charity shops aren’t your thing. You’ll get something for a fraction of the price and be extra smug knowing that you have done something good for the planet.
4 | SET A BUDGET
It’s easy to get carried away, so know your budget before you step foot into any store or visit an online retailer. You want to feel great about your purchases long after the ink has faded on the receipt, so don’t buy more than you can afford. Set your budget – and stick to it! Knowing your financial limits will help refine your choices and ensure you don’t break the bank. Remember, it’s better buying two timeless, pieces that you love than 10 items that aren’t quite right.
5 | ASK YOURSELF THESE 6 QUESTIONS
Once an item has made it onto your seasonal wish list and you have hit the stores these 6 key questions will ensure you make the right purchase for you. These questions allow me to consider a piece from all angles. If all questions get a perfect 5, the piece gets a thumbs up and I’ll consider buying it. The questions take some of the emotion out of the decision-making process and give you more of an objective viewpoint.
1 DOES THIS FLATTER ME?
It might have looked fantastic on the model, online or in the window, but does it suit YOU? Does it compliment your body shape, come in a colour that enhances your skin tone and make you feel radiant. Would you like to be photographed in this item or meet someone for the first time? (Do you feel like it gives the right impression of you?). If it simply fits, but doesn’t really make you feel your confident best, it’s probably not something you’re going to wear a lot.
2 IS THIS ITEM TIMELESS?
It’s easy to get caught up in the trends, but your financial investment needs to stand the test of time. Will you want to wear this next year and the year after that, or is it a trend piece thats sparkle will soon fade, leaving it to collect dust?
3 CAN I AFFORD THIS?
Is it within the budget you set before you left home? No clothing is worth going into debt for.
4 COULD I GET SOMETHING BETTER?
Train yourself to be more selective when it comes to buying new clothes (and anything, for that matter). Only buy items you absolutely love 100%. Ask yourself if you will you be excited year after year when you see this gem again, or will you look to replace this imperfect piece with a better alternative. Don’t settle for the first pair of jeans that fit. Find a pair that you love and wear them for years! Only buy items that are perfect for you or you’ll end up with a wardrobe full of stuff that you’re not so crazy about.
5 IS THIS LOW MAINTENANCE?
Have a look at the care instructions and fabric and think about the durability and ease of care of the garment. Will it be difficult to iron? Is it dry clean only? This can add some strain to your wallet and your free time. Is the item crush free and easy to travel with? Is the item delicate or light in colour? If it’s white and you’ll be scared to get it dirty (don’t laugh – this is a real thing for me) you might not wear it as much as other more serviceable items. The more hassle it is to look after, the less likely you are to wear it.
6 COULD I GET THIS FOR A BETTER PRICE?
Is there a chance that the item you are seriously coveting will go on sale in the near future? I rarely pay full price for an item. It takes patience but every dollar counts, right. Those suckers are hard to earn and far too easy to fritter away. Waiting for an item to go on the clearance rack can save a lot of money. Be careful though. Don’t let that sale sign convince you to buy something that you wouldn’t buy otherwise. A bargain is not a bargain if you don’t love it – it is simply something you purchased cheaply and will hardly wear.
Make a deliberate choice to buy higher quality items less often. Sometimes high-quality means paying more, but not always. Think about how much it costs annually to buy low-quality clothing which doesn’t last or gets little wear. Instead of buying a lot of cheap items, save up to buy less items of better quality. Avoid trends and buy classic, timeless pieces that you will still be able to still wear in 5 years’ time.
FINALLY – SLEEP ON IT
I’ve left the best step until last. If you see something you hadn’t planned on buying, put it on hold for a day. Sometimes we think we just have to have something, but if you take a breath (and put some time between the impulse and the purchase), you realise that the money is really not worth it.
This is a great way to determine if I really love something. If I am still thinking about a piece the following day, I will revisit it and feel confident it’s the one. If not, I wasn’t that crazy about it in the first place.
By following these simple steps, you will be well on your way to ending impulse clothing buys for good. It makes me feel great to think that all of us can make positive changes not only to our wallets but to our planet at the same time.
We can shop with a conscience. So come on, let’s change the world – one smart purchase at a time. If you’d like to read more about the effects of fast fashion on our planet, take a look at my article, 6 SIMPLE STEPS TO SHOP WITH A CONSCIENCE.