The Shopping Rule You Should Never Break

I found myself standing in my mismatched undies under the florescent lights, my arms crossed and my eyes thoughtfully narrowed as I took in the pleated mini skirt in front of me. I was trying to convince myself to break my wardrobe rules, and I was having a hard time of it. RiRi beat on through the speakers over head, asking me where her money was.

Waving a hand, I promised her we'd get to that conversation later. Right now I had decisions to make: Should I or should I not forget about my fool-proof styling rules. Dare I roll the dice? I was inside a dressing room, surrounded by a wall of mirrors that, when coupled, created a scary fun house mirror effect around me, plastering my butt across every inch of the small, curtained room. I saw angles that, quite frankly, I myself have never been acquainted with, and ignoring the fact that I really should treat myself to new undies, I turned my attention back to the task at hand.

The skirt.

I've seen women wear versions similar to this one, and I've been dying to try my hand at the styling. It was usually a suede A-line number, with button snaps running down its front and giving off a wonderfully hippie-on-Berkeley's-campus vibe. I once saw a girl pair it with a paisley shirt at an Indian restaurant one evening — looking completely fabulous — and I nearly choked on my butter chicken with pure sartorial lust. Another time, in a magazine, I saw it paired with a simple oxford shirt, giving off an Alexa Chung-like vibe. Once more, a girl ordering a gin and tonic next to me at the bar paired hers with red lips and a leather jacket. The signs were all there: The universe wanted me to have it.

Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

So why was I hesitating? Well, this wasn't quite the skirt. Rather than being slightly bell shaped and hitting just above the knee, this was a pleated skater skirt number that just barely grazed the tips of my fingers. It was... kinda like it, I tried to reason with myself. Right? It gave off the same vibe? So convincing myself, I bought it.

And it's been hanging in my closet with its tags still on for the past three months. Why?

Because I broke my first cardinal rule when trying to add something to my wardrobe: Which is that just because it fits, it doesn't mean I should buy it.

In this case, it was similar enough to the style I wanted to try my hand at — with some finagling, I could still coax out that '70s Megan Draper vibe by pairing it with berry reds and soft suedes. But the issue was that I bought it in a shape I knew I wasn't going to be comfortable in. My Slavic father gifted me with Viking-esque calves and because of it I don't feel my best in tiny, flippy numbers. I love my pins, but there are certain things I feel more comfortable in than others. So why exactly did I buy a tiny, flippy little number? You know, the very thing I wouldn't enjoy spending the day in?

It was because I'd been searching for that skirt for months at that point and my patience was running low. I could have kept searching or I could have just nabbed this piece and called the search to an end.

Much good that did me. I was now out $40 (do you know how many margaritas I could have bought with that?!) and nowhere near closer to looking like a sophomore strolling through campus in 1973.

So learn from my mistakes, guys: Just because it fits doesn't mean it should be bought. Be pickier with your wardrobe choices not only to save yourself the money and the bitter heartache, but also so every single piece in your closet is something you can't wait to wear.

Don't buy something lackluster that you'll skip again and again, only settling on it when it's laundry day (and it's either that or the Quidditch Team shirt). Don't buy something just because it kind of has most of your criteria but varies off in some key places (like has short sleeves instead of long, or is longer/baggier than you'd like), because you know you'll just upgrade when you come across the piece that hits all your points. Don't buy something just because it's on trend and won't feasibly match anything in your closet. Because that flamboyant pair of culottes will be hanging all lonely-like until they get stuffed into the donation bin, and you know it.

Repeat after me: Just because it fits, doesn't mean you should buy it.

Unless, of course, you enjoy having a hefty bag for the donation bin.

Then by all means, sister friend, do it.

Images: Marlen Komar/Messages on a Napkin; Getty; Giphy