Whenever I tell a friend that I have nothing to wear, they always reply, “Are you kidding me? You have more clothes than anyone I know!” Which in their defense is probably true. I do have a lot of clothes – many unworn still with tags on them. That’s because I am guilty of compulsive shopping. When I see a piece of clothing I love, I need to have it (as long as it’s priced within my “budget”). I usually forget to ask myself, “What would I wear this with?” So I buy lots of clothing and then what happens? It ends up hanging in my closet – unworn – for months.
With retailers like Forever 21 pumping out trendy garments at rapid speeds (their website generates about 30 “new arrivals” every day), it’s hard to resist the $17.99 blouse. Even if I only wear it once…or I never even wear it…I don’t feel like I’ve wasted that much money because it was cheap. But then multiply that blouse by 15, add in the fedora that I had to have that I didn’t even think looked good on me (but it looked sooo cute on Jessica Alba so I bought it anyway), plus the 6-inch platforms that looked fabulous in the Steve Madden mirror, but are impossible to walk in. I’ve not only wasted a ton of money, but created a cluttered closet.
This October I will be turning 25-years-old – I think it’s about time for a me to change my ways. At the rate I’m going, I’ll be a diagnosed hoarder by the age of 30, still claiming that “I have nothing to wear!”
I’ve decided to make some shopping rules for myself. They aren’t new or unique, and you’ve probably heard them or read them a million times before – I’m not claiming to be innovative with my revelation. I don’t care if I have to tattoo these rules onto my arm, I will follow them from here on out.
Rule # 1: Distinguish between Trendy or Timeless
There is nothing wrong with following a trend if you like it. But honestly, who needs 20 high-low-hem tops? We may all be loving the trend now, but I can bet my pretty pennies (the few that I have) that pretty soon, all of our high-low-hem articles of clothing will be at the bottom of our drawers or in bags on their way to Goodwill.
Some will argue that trends come back – and they absolutely do. However, in 10 years when the trend resurfaces, will your $17.99 still be in good condition? Or will it look like an old dish rag by then. If you are making an investment in a trendy piece that you believe could be “vintage” one day, make sure it’s made from a decent fabric or textile like leather or silk – polyester and rayon simply won’t hold up.
We always see articles like “The 10 Must Have Items in Every Girl’s Closet” – read those articles. You’d be surprised how you can turn 10 items into hundreds of outfits. Next time you’re shopping, put down the tribal-print pants and look for staple pieces like a timeless collared blouse or tailored trousers. These items will never go out of style, and you won’t feel bad about re-wearing them multiple times.
Rule # 2: Keep a Mental Inventory
Currently, I’m a sucker for anything chiffon. Buying the first and second blouse was okay, but now when I open my closet doors, I am sifting through chiffon after chiffon after chiffon – when all I want is a damn sweater! (I work in an office that keeps the AC blasting.) The truth is, when you own multiples, you’re outfits become dull and redundant. I mean, who wants to be referred to as The Girl Who Only Wears Chiffon Blouses?
When shopping, ask yourself whether or not you already own something similar. If you honestly can’t remember, download an iPhone app like Stylebook that will keep an inventory for you. These apps also help you create hypothetical outfits so you can visualize how your new item will fit into your wardrobe. (If only Cher Horowitz “Dress Me” computer program was real.)
Rule #3: Beware of the Sale Rack
There it is! The long-sleeved sequin dress you’ve been eyeing up for months, but refused to pay full price. It is 50% off so how could you not buy it now?! Well, if you’re anything like me, I’ll tell you why you shouldn’t buy it now – because it’s 90+ degrees, you have no immediate use for the dress, and it will hang in your closet until December. When December rolls around, you’ll have a closet full of newer dresses and that lustrous sequin one won’t even be in style anymore.
For some people, the sale rack is great. If you have an eclectic style and don’t tend to follow trends, or know how to alter/rework clothes, you might find items on the sale rack that you can easily work into your wardrobe. But remember, sale racks are usually jam packed with items that stores are hoping to sell fast. And there is a reason why: the items are usually out of season or straight up ugly.
Rule #4: Be Practical
Here’s where the questions, “What could I wear with this?” and “Where can I wear this?” come to play. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen a dress I love and bought it just in case I had an event or a wedding to attend. How many weddings or upscale events have I attended in the last year? Zero. Plus, when one of those events does roll around, I always want a new dress anyway. If you can’t think of at least one circumstance where you would wear something within a reasonable time frame – or three real-life scenarios if it’s shoes or a casual piece of clothing – don’t buy it.
I recently had a job interview, and while I was putting together an outfit, I realized I had no interview-appropriate shoes. The shoes I currently wear to work are too casual, and my other high heels were too “trendy.” So when shopping, ask yourself questions like, “Can these shoes translate from the work-day to night-life?” “Is this dress appropriate to wear to class?” “Do I love the leather pants look but can’t pull it off because my thighs look like two canned hams?” (That last question is one I’ve asked myself before.)
Hopefully I stick to these rules. I need to stick to these rules!
Do you have any shopping tips for me? Leave me a comment!