How to Buy Clothes You Love

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I remember looking at sweepstakes that would promise $1,000 to create the wardrobe of your dreams. That seemed like endless money at the time. But I’ve undoubtedly spent more than that on my wardrobe and at times, it has felt like there was nothing great to wear. Sound familiar?

Before I decluttered, I was always a little disappointed with my clothing options. Surprisingly, after getting rid of stuff I didn’t like, the stuff I did like seemed to shine even brighter.  And I’ve kept it up so that every new item that comes in shines as brightly. The most important lesson I learned from Marie Kondo’s “get rid of what doesn’t spark joy” movement is that one can’t go through the multi-day purge without being more mindful of what’s coming back in. After decluttering, it’s always in the front of your mind when shopping that what you buy might just become future clutter. Here are some tips I’ve found to make the transition from mindless shopping to consistently buying what you love, at least for your wardrobe.

1. Assess your Current Inventory

The first step to buying stuff you love is knowing what you already have. If you’ve done the Marie Kondo decluttering, you should have culled your inventory into something manageable enough for you to know basically everything you own. You should now be able to see all the things you like and wear often and all the things you want to have to complete outfits. You should also be able to see what you had too many of, or what didn’t work for you. Before I decluttered, I would find myself buying black shirt after black shirt, black dress after black dress. (See a trend?)

Don’t just mindlessly shop for things – keep your eyes focused on the holes in your wardrobe. Maybe you actually need a new blazer to wear to work. If you’re unfocused, you can see a new black dress and get distracted (I know I would). But you know you don’t need another dress – you need another blazer. You must be disciplined about this. Now that you know what pieces would complete your wardrobe, just fill those gaps. Otherwise, it’s like assembling a 100 piece puzzle set with only 10 distinct pieces. That just doesn’t make any sense!

2. Judge New Purchases Against what you Have

It can be a rush to have new things. And it might seem like an extra piece of clothing won’t make any difference. Clothing tends not to be that expensive. Anything nice and new will cheer you up and make your wardrobe better, right?

But to have a great wardrobe, you need a high barrier to entry. It’s good to think of  your stuff is a family and bringing a new product in is like bringing a random new boyfriend or girlfriend in. You have to think about how the new guy/girl is going to fit in. You don’t just invite anyone to meet or join your family. They might not get along well.

You’ve cleared away the chaff in your wardrobe and now you know what the lowest standard of acceptability for your wardrobe is. For every new item of clothing you consider, ask yourself the following questions and only buy what passes the test. Otherwise, you’re bringing in more stuff that won’t pass the next purge.

  1. Do I like this as much or better than the clothes I already have?
  2. Will this be as useful to me than the clothes I already have?
  3. Will this item fit in with the clothes I already have?

3. Search for Better and Cheaper alternatives.

Even if you find something you like, you have to remember that now every product you bring home is something that you may have in your house for years.  And with that kind of commitment, you should love the product. And in order to know you love something, you really should search to see what else is out there.

The problem we have with buying clothes is that because they’re cheap, we don’t spend the time to think of each one as valuable. This is unlike how we buy expensive items. We can only afford one car and will drive it for several years, so we research to make sure we are getting exactly what we want. With clothing, we think, this is good enough. And if not, we can buy another one that is good enough. And soon, without really questioning it, we have spend thousands on clothes we don’t like, don’t wear and have to spend time taking care of and/or disposing.

Try searching for similar items on Google search, Shopstyle or eBay. Maybe you found a great red dress at The Gap, but an even better dress is available at Banana Republic for a similar price. And there’s no point in buying two red dresses when one is clearly better. But be careful – remember that eBay may be cheaper but it may be difficult to return items.

4. Try stuff in the store if possible. Return what you don’t want.

The problem with shopping online is that the product worms its way into your house and it becomes another errand for you to return. This is the opposite of buying in a store, where it’s a burden for you to buy the product and bring it home.

Remember that your house is a sacred place. Be adamant about getting rid of things you don’t want as soon as possible at the highest value you can still get. If you are forgetful at returning things, then it might make sense to shop only in stores. Or to shop infrequently.

Conclusion: How to Buy Clothes You Love

Remember that the Marie Kondo method isn’t a one-and-done. It requires constant vigilance to ensure that clutter doesn’t make its way back to your wardrobe or your home. But if you follow these steps, you’re much more likely to bring in more things you love, so that you can keep getting dressed with ease and style. Never relax your standards – if you want a wardrobe you love, you can only buy stuff you love. You deserve it.

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