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How to Break the Habit of Buying Clothes You Never Wear

Ann Joy 6 months ago - in Shopping

Even those who are not big fans of shopping have clothes bought “just in case” or simply because they were on sale, plus a few odd items that don’t match anything in their wardrobe. These are hardly ever enjoyed, if worn at all. Even if they don’t hurt someone’s budget that much, the storage space of a certain home is usually limited, and the owners have to decide how reasonable these limits are.

Having much more than you actually need or can handle often results in a true chaos, or a smaller-scale organizational mess that inevitably eats up your time – whether it is extra time wasted on efforts to find something, or extra time needed to earn that money for buying more. As you may have noticed, buying more mostly comes from forgetting what you already own. Purchasing a few identical items sometimes makes sense – if they are really great and flattering, or used often and undergoing significant wear and tear. Otherwise, it’s a waste of money, time and your living space. Having a lot of things packed, tucked and scattered everywhere, or simply letting clothes you never wear occupy a part of your closet is like having roommates you dislike, but doing nothing to move out or to make them move out.

The classic advice revisited

What you have probably come across many times are general pieces of advice about buying responsibly, questioning the advertisements or “special deals”, and certainly thinking whether you “really need” something before you buy it. Still, this doesn’t work for many people. Some always think they “really need” it if they like it, discovering only later that the thing is not as great as they expected it to be. Some are never sure if a certain item is necessary or not, but if they can’t find a good reason why they definitely don’t need it, then it’s the usual gravitating towards the “just in case”, “it’s a good price”, “I might not have the time/the money when I need it”.

One of my friends loves to buy maxi-length summer dresses and skirts, even though she wears jeans and shorts all summer. Another one deliberately doesn’t buy anything until there’s an urgent need for it – then, driven by that urgency, she rushes and grabs almost virtually the first thing she can find, and she often regrets it later. Between the two extremes, there must be a better way to determine what is worth buying, and what isn’t.

The priorities

Maybe it doesn’t sound simple or exciting, but once you establish those, it becomes easier to answer that “really need” question. The same is true of a well-organized wardrobe. The key to both: if you remember what the Food Pyramid looked like, try to view your wardrobe in a similar way. Do you have enough basic items that can be easily matched and worn in different situations? Some clothes are like vegetables and cereals – everybody must have them for everyday wear.

Some clothes and footwear are like meat, fish and dairy products – your needs for those depend on your lifestyle, the type of work you do, and the seasonal or climatic peculiarities of wherever you live or often travel to. Anything else is ice-cream and toppings, bought just for color, pattern, glitter or other decorative elements. While bright accents and accessories can help you create different looks, you would probably not be buying more ice-cream if your fridge was already full of it, but there was nothing for dinner. You can sure go without any sweet treats if you are on a diet. In case your Clothing Pyramid looks like it has been turned upside down, you may often face a situation of a full closet and nothing to wear, so this has to change, but it should be easier when you are aware of your priorities.

Read also – 8 Frugal Ways to Look Wealthier

With like colors

Perhaps it is not until you have family and kids that you realize how ingenious this washing instruction is. When buying something, ask yourself if it will go well with the rest of your wardrobe – both in terms of style and color. If you buy an odd-colored “stranger”, it may not only be difficult to find matching items, it may be a problem when washing your clothes as well. Preferably, also think twice before buying something that requires special care like dry cleaning or hand washing. If regular stops at the dry cleaners are on your list of errands anyway, then it probably doesn’t matter if you pick up two items there, or four. If extra time or extra expenses may be a problem, opt for easy-care clothes.

Other selection criteria

These mainly concern quality, fit and functionality that shouldn’t be compromised, no matter how low the price is. The lessons learned from previous purchases that were not comfortable or even wearable can help you come up with your own specific requirements, like never buying anything made of 100% polyester again, or any garments that you can’t zip up without someone else’s help. Being a picky shopper leaves very little chances for the “strangers” making it into your closet, even if they come in packs of three for just $5.

Does it make you happy?

Occasionally, an item you are holding in your hands at the store seems to be a consolation, a reward, or a part of a dream. However, simply buying a piece of clothing does not make anyone happy – having pleasant memories or emotions related to it does. That’s why people are so often disappointed with their purchases, because those don’t automatically bring something great into their lives as they had expected. When they are disappointed, they hardly ever use what they have bought and even feel guilty about the money wasted on that.

Perhaps you have also experienced something similar and learned from it, but if you haven’t please believe the scientists, researchers and psychologists who have proved that experiences make people happy, not purchases. We’d love to know your opinion on that, and your ideas about controlling your shopping habits are welcome in the comments.