How To Avoid Buying Clothes You’ll Never Wear

Written by: Lisa Patulny

How to avoid buying clothes you'll never wear

Bought a piece of clothing recently that you wish you’d left on the rail? Even the most conscious shopper can get it wrong sometimes. But if you’re stuck in a pattern of buying pieces you love in the moment, only to have them stay in your wardrobe with the tags attached, it’s worth figuring out why. Purchasing something you regret hurts on multiple levels; there’s the guilt of having spent money on something you don’t wear (hello, buyer’s remorse), plus you end up with an increasingly disorganised closet which can make getting dressed confusing. The answer to ditching this bad habit for good? Recognising your shopping triggers. Here’s how.

Step 1: Figure out your ‘why’

Getting to the underlying reason why you keep buying pieces you don’t wear is crucial. Do you love the anticipation of owning something new? (Psst, serotonin shopping is a real thing!) Do you buy one-off pieces for special occasions rather than long-term wear? Are you being influenced by marketing? Are you unsure of the shapes you like best? Or are you just rushing the consideration process? Once you’ve figured out what’s driving your shopping missteps, you can implement targeted strategies to prevent them from happening.

How to avoid buying clothes you'll never wear

Step 2: Take stock of your wardrobe

Sometimes, simply being on top of what’s in your wardrobe can be enough to dissuade you from buying repeat items. For instance, if you have the category of black pants well and truly covered, you probably don’t need to invest in yet another pair. However, if you still feel compelled to purchase more black pants, think about why. There’s nothing wrong with buying multiples of your wardrobe staples unless you’re not wearing them. Perhaps what you already own no longer feels right, in which case it might be time to sell or donate.

Step 3: Find your feel-good styles

Shopping for a capsule wardrobe should feel unique to you. The concept of shopping for basics that will stand the test of time, like a crisp white shirt or classic blue jeans, does still allow for personal interpretation. (In fact, it’s essential for choosing clothes you will actually wear.) Do you prefer your shirts cut close to the body or oversized? Is your denim vibe ‘90s-inspired and loose throughout, or high-waisted and straight-legged? Choose what makes you feel your best (not necessarily what you’ve seen on others) to ensure you’ll wear it.

How to avoid buying clothes you'll never wear

Step 4: Make a shopping list

Now that you know a) what you already own and b) the gaps in your wardrobe essentials, create a capsule wardrobe checklist that reflects what’s missing. Having a list means you’ll be able to confidently prioritise checking those off before buying anything else. If you’re a visual person, it can also help to create a Pinterest board of what you want your style to look like and Pin buys you find while shopping that fit in with this. You’ll find that you have more clarity around whether the pieces you’re eyeing fit in with your existing closet.

Step 5: Make and use a budget

If you’ve never had a shopping budget, it’s probably time to implement one. An excellent place to start is by tracking your spending and then deciding on how much of your income you want to allocate to your wardrobe. (We’re not here to give you financial advice, so please seek a professional’s help if you need it.) A shopping budget is an effective tool for curbing impulse spending since it encourages you to give purchases more thought over time. (Even when shopping for a minimalist wardrobe, you should never rush a purchase!)

In a style rut? This list of 40 wardrobe essentials for effortless style will rescue you.

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