Back in the day, I could barely contain my excitement when I'd enter a mall. There were so many dresses I needed to try on, jumpsuits to play in, jeans to shimmy into. But because of that, I'd make a lot of blunders that could be described as shopping mistakes to avoid. I'd shop emotionally, going with whatever struck my fancy instead of thinking about how it would fit my wardrobe. I'd settle for so-so sizes and get suckered in by sales. And the result of such willy-nilly type of shopping practices? A closet that made no sense, one that was filled with ill-fitting sizes, and nothing really to mix and match with. It was a weekly occurrence that I had nothing to wear come Monday morning or Friday night. It was maddening!
So I'm here to help you avoid the mistakes I was so prone to making by sharing with you my trial and errors. It's never a good feeling seeing how much you're throwing out at the end of the year because of blind decision making when shopping, so we're going to arm ourselves with rules and tips. Below are 11 ways to avoid making bad purchases, once and for all.
1. Don't Fall Into The Sale Trap
Just because something is slashed down by 80 percent doesn't mean you need to buy it! Rather, treat it like it was a full-price item and ask yourself the usual questions. Fashion writer Nicky Deam from the Zoe Report advised, "Ask yourself 'Does it fit? Does it work with three items in my closet? Will I wear it next season?'" If the answer is no, then put it back on the rack. It has no business being in your closet.
2. Write Down A List Of What You Need
While window shopping is fun, it can lead you to make a couple of blunders. Instead, when you go shopping go with a list of what you're specifically looking for. Stylist Alexandra Greenawalt explained, "You wander around buying things that look interesting, but when you get them home, you wonder why you bought them...If you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail." Whether it's a new pair of jeans or something trendier like overalls, write it down and stick to the plan.
3. Pause Over Impulse Buys
But what if you find something amazing while shopping that's not on your list? You don't need to ignore it, but first go home and think over and plan for the purchase. Greenawalt pointed out, "Put the item on hold and think about it. If you can’t stop dreaming about it or realize the next day that it can fill a gap in your closet, go back and get it if you can afford it." Go back home and see how many things it could mix with, if it actually elevates the quality of outfits, or if it was just a smack of lust.
4. Don't Forget Past Mistakes
Do jumpsuits give you wedgies, tube top dresses uni-boobs, or are you terrible at hand washing? Keep your past mistakes at the forefront and don't try on a certain style again with the hopes that "maybe this time it'll change." Style writer Meenal Mistry from the Wall Street Journal offered, "As tempting as it might be to sweep your mistakes under the rug and forget them, I'd suggest keeping a list of blunders to avoid repeating the error. I learned the hard way with a black cashmere crew neck from contemporary line Equipment that, within a few wears, turned into a pilled mess." Chances are that second purchase will be hanging right next to that ill-fated first one: In the back of the closet.
5. Don't Keep Spending Money On The Same Thing
Confession: I have a sick weakness for stripes. All I need to see is a striped sleeve poking out from the mess of a sales rack and I zero in on it like bees to honey. So how do I keep myself from buying a whole closet of striped items? I tell myself I have to ditch an old piece in order to buy this new one. Deam recommended, "For every new piece, vow to throw away two old ones. If you can't part with them, it's not worth buying another iteration of the same item." That way you keep your repeat purchases under control.
6. Know Exactly What's In Your Wardrobe
How are you supposed to avoid making repeat purchases or fill foundation holes if you're not familiar with what is exactly in your closet? Fashion blogger Joanna from Style Standpoint suggested, "The truth is majority of us don’t even know what we own, so how we’re supposed to know what to add? Best reserve an entire day and just take everything out, then start trying things on." If you begin creating outfits and putting things back into place, you'll get a better idea of what holes you have and exactly what you already own.
7. Don't Be Dominated By Trends
Just because something is popular doesn't mean you should feel cornered into getting it. Joanna explained, "Buying something only because it’s trendy or you’ve seen it on many people almost always leads to making shopping mistakes. Just forget about what’s fashionable and focus on what you like instead." Let trends inspire you, not lead you by the hand. They can add a little oomph to your wardrobe but if, say, you don't like how you look in skinny jeans, don't feel pressured into getting them!
8. Quality Is Everything
If you end up buying a dress with it's seem fraying or a blouse in cheap material, you're going to be replacing that item in just a few months time. Quality is everything, and you're just throwing out cash when you buy something that's cheaply made. Joanna said, "Check if the thing you’re about to buy is made of a material that will serve you well and for long. That usually means consisting of mostly natural fibers (especially when it comes to the comfort of wearing)." You don't want to have to go through the pain of finding something similar again next year.
9. Keep Your Closet From Only Being Trend Pieces
It's hard not to dabble in a fun new trend once it breaks, but in order to make it work with your style you need pieces to mix and match it with. It's not bad indulging in a couple of fads, but before you allow yourself to, first make sure you have all your basics so you have a foundation on which to play. Deam recommended, "Make a list of the investment items you need and only indulge in trendy pieces once you've amassed the essentials." After that, you can start introducing the quirkier, more playful pieces.
10. Pick Out Multiple Sizes
When I go shopping, I always take three sizes of the same piece in with me: one that's my true size, one that's smaller, and one that's bigger. That way I know which one feels the best. Style blogger Imogen Lamport from Inside Out Style Blog offered, "Try on multiple sizes of clothes as even in the same store sizes vary between garments." Don't look at the size tag and rather listen to how your body feels.
11. Try On The Stuff
It doesn't matter if you're 100 percent sure it'll fit you, the piece might lose it's magic if it's off the hanger or might pinch in unexpected places. Always try on the stuff, no matter how annoying. Lamport pointed out, "Yes it may look fine on the hanger, but so often, the cut is a little off, and it doesn’t work on the body." So do yourself a favor and always go to the changing room.
Keeping these tips in mind, you'll make less and less shipping blunders.