According to various surveys and reports…
… We consume five times as many clothes as we did 50 years ago [source]
… We wear 20% of our clothes 80% of the time [source] – My guess is that we wore 5% of our clothes 95% of the time during the pandemic!
… 73% of women update 25% of their closet every 3 months. 15% of women don’t have any clothes older than 5 years in their wardrobe [source]
… On average, a piece of clothing is worn 7 times [source]
… Women spend eight years of their lives shopping [source] – that’s about 30% of the time we spend sleeping.
But do we need those statistics to know that we own too many clothes and that we don’t wear them much? Probably not. And yet, don’t we always crave more?
If you want to save money, time, and last but not least the planet, here are my tips to help you stop buying clothes that will rarely, if ever, be worn.
Assess your wardrobe before shopping. Identify the gaps and write a list of clothes you need to buy. Carry the list with you and try to stick to your list as much as you can. Even if it works only 20% of the time, it’s better than nothing.
For those who buy online, unsubscribe from newsletters of brands you like so to reduce temptation.
Select the friends you go shopping with. Some are very good at giving you an objective opinion about the fit or holding you back when tempted while others will influence you to buy things you don’t really need. Also, be careful with the salesperson’s advice, they’re likely to flatter you to get you to spend. Learn to trust your instincts and your opinions.
Create a list of specifications with your measurements, the sizes you typically wear, the colours and shapes that look good on you and the ones that don’t, your personal style (classic, minimalist, elegant, casual etc) etc.
For example, I love baby blue, but the reality is that this colour is not flattering on me. With age, I have also realised that black is draining the colour out of me, and that navy blue is a much better option. I like my skirts to be knee-length and my tops to be covering my hips. Having clarity on the above has helped me minimised purchases that wouldn’t have been a perfect fit.
Take the time to try the clothes on. That’s the only way to know whether the item really fits you and looks good on you, whether you can move in it, whether it’s not going to be too revealing etc. This will save you not only money but also time if you have to exchange it.
Check the tag for the caring instructions. Are you prepared to hand-wash an item or take it to the dry cleaner? If not, then maybe better leave it behind.
Take some distance when tempted to buy something. If you can, walk away and give yourself some time to think about it. If you still feel strongly about the item after a while, then go back and get it.
Settle for your favourite instead of buying multiples of the same item in different colours, patterns, or even sizes, even when you think it’s perfect. If you still want to buy the item in other colours or patterns after you’ve brought the item back home, at least you’ll know which one would be a good addition to your wardrobe.
A couple of years ago, I needed to buy a pair of shorts and I wanted them in a terracotta colour. I found what seemed like the perfect pair and it was coming in about 10 different colours. I was very, very, tempted to buy at least 3 or 4. I reminded myself of what I tell my clients in such a situation, resisted the urge, and left with the one in the colour I was originally looking for. For a few days, I kept thinking about going back and buying it in another colour. But it turned out that after washing it, the fit was no longer as good as what it looked like in the shop. In the end, I was grateful to have bought only one.
Consider renting or borrowing items you won’t be wearing much. Think seasonal wear such as ski outfits or occasional wear such as cocktail dresses.
It’s not often these days that I get to attend a wedding ceremony or a formal event, and it’s been many years since I’ve owned a proper cocktail dress. Instead of buying one that I was unlikely to wear often, I rented a dress and clutch from Rentadella to attend a good friend’s wedding last year. The bride herself had rented her wedding gown, and she looked absolutely gorgeous!
Resist buying on sales unless it’s on your shopping list.
Most of the wrong purchases I’ve made, i.e., items I haven’t worn much, were made during a sale because I had compromised on the size, colour etc.
12 QUESTIONS TO RESIST IMPULSE SHOPPING
When you are in a shop and feel tempted to buy a piece of clothing, pause and ask yourself the following questions:
- Is it on my shopping list?
- Do I have something similar in my wardrobe?
- What do I need it for?
- When am I going to wear it?
- Could I borrow it, or rent it?
- Is it in the right size?
- Does it fit my personal style?
- Does it fit my body shape?
- Does the colour look good on me?
- Can I pair it with at least 3 (or 5) other items in my wardrobe?
- If it requires handwash or dry-cleaning – Am I prepared to take care of it?
- When tempted to buy more than one piece of the same item – Which one is my favourite?
TAKE IT ONE STEP FURTHER: GO FOR A SHOPPING DIET
I admit, the idea to stop buying clothes for a year, or even a few months, can be daunting, but it’s the best way to reassess your wardrobe, reconsider your relationships with clothes, change your consumption habits, and reset your wardrobe.
From an overstuffed to clutter-free wardrobe, from an unsatisfied to empowered you, trust me, the process is nothing short of transformational. That’s certainly how I experienced it when I didn’t shop for 14 months back in 2015.
Up to you to set up your own rules about how you go about it.
What other tips do you have to resist temptation and stop buying clothes you won’t wear? Please comment below.