I think we’ve – almost – all been there; that moment when you realise that your shopping has gotten a little out of control, and somehow in the last month you’ve come home with more things that you could realistically hope to wear for the next season, or two. This has been so true of my own story, and it wasn’t until I realised just how swept up in this vortex of continuously shopping, yet still never having anything to wear, that I started to make a change to how I shopped. I’m still always going to be the girl who loves the buzz of bringing home a new pair of shoes, and while I won’t let myself feel guilty over splurging on a dress I’ve had my eye on for two months, I try to follow a few simple steps to make sure that what I’m adding to my wardrobe will still be a strong staple six months later.
ONE IN, ONE OUT
There’s nothing quite like the threat of having to get rid of something you already own and love, to make you think twice about a new wardrobe addition. Aside from the fact that this helps to keep your wardrobe free from clutter, this is also a great way to keep your closet streamlined and filled only with the things that you love, plus it adds a little layer to the shopping process which can be a real dealbreaker, particularly if you’re buying something just because it’s on sale.
KEEP A SHOPPING JOURNAL
Something that I still do, even to this day, is keep an itemised shopping journal which lists each new addition to my closet, and just how much I spent on it. This takes a little bit of additional effort, but it helps me to stay accountable and also identify when I’m starting to add a few too many new things to my wardrobe. The most important point here is to be honest, and include everything, even if it’s just a $0.99 pair of vintage denim shorts from eBay.
There’s that old saying, ‘good things come to those who wait’, and as cliche as it is, I typically like to wait at least two weeks before pulling the trigger on a purchase. There’s always the odd exception, but giving yourself the time to really think about a possible new purchase speaks volumes as to whether a new piece is going to be a keeper, or something that will be relegated to the back of your wardrobe within a few month’s time. A lot of the time, I’ll come to the conclusion that as shiny and pretty and new as it is, it’s not something that I really need, or something that I foresee myself getting a lot of use out of.
ASK YOURSELF, IS IT VERSATILE?
I figure that there’s no point buying something if it doesn’t go with the rest of your wardrobe, and you have to buy something else for it to go with. While there’s always the odd exception, like a fancy cocktail dress, I use the rule of thumb that any new addition needs to work with at least three other items in my already existing closet. Versatility is absolutely key, and if it can do double duty for the office and for play, that’s even better.
TRY A CAPSULE WARDROBE
I was first drawn to the capsule wardrobe movement in large part due to my desire to shop smarter, and really take hold of my wardrobe’s destiny (as corny as that sounds). I’ve since moved on after three years of capsule wardrobes, but I took away so much from the learning experience and have found that I hit the shops a lot less frequently than I used to, and when I do, I’m much more measured when it comes to ringing up a new purchase at the shop till. If you’re new to this concept, or are thinking about dipping your toe into the capsule wardrobe pool, then I’d recommend checking out some of my previous posts on how to build a capsule wardrobe and whether a capsule wardrobe is right for you, as I think they’re both pretty good starting points.
A couple of the other things that I’ve found have really helped me, when it comes to shopping smarter, and shopping more mindfully, is to keep a full list of all the items you have in your current wardrobe on you at all times, as well as a concrete shopping list of things that you’re looking for. I find that these two ‘mini-steps’ work in unison together, functioning as a reminder of what you already own (and don’t need multiples of…), allow you to identify in one glance whether a piece would work with your existing wardrobe, and also allow you to pin point just what your wardrobe is missing.
Overall, my general approach to shopping is quality over quantity, so when I do invest in a new item, I want it to be something that trascends trends, and will last the test of time. There’s nothing more satisfying that adding something to your wardrobe that you still love six years later (my Helmut Lang blazer and Proenza Schouler PS11 are proof of that in action!), and sometimes saving up and spending a little more, or waiting for the perfect piece within your budget to roll around, is much more rewarding than an easy pick-me-up.
Do you have any tips for shopping more mindfully?