12 questions you MUST ask before you go shopping

Why is it important to understand your shopping triggers? Especially before you edit or add new pieces to your wardrobe?

Because only doing a wardrobe detox/edit or a capsule wardrobe is a band-aid to a much bigger problem. If you don’t understand why you keep wasting your money, then you are going to keep making the same mistake. Below is a list of questions to ask yourself to understand your shopping habits:

1. Are you burnt out?

If you used to enjoy shopping and getting dressed and you no longer feel that way. You need to understand what is causing you stress:

  • Are you spending the majority of your time on the phone or on the computer with no time for yourself?
  • Do you feel like there is so much to do and you have too little time to do it?
  • Do the little things like getting dressed starting to feel like a chore?
  • Are you having trouble sleeping because you keep thinking of all the things you need to do?
  • Do you avoid friends as getting dressed for social activities feels like work?
  • Are you tired when you wake up each morning?

If this sounds like you, then you need to focus on fewer activities rather than attempting to do them all. Having work-life harmony is crucial for your mental well being.

2. If you think about it, are you an emotional spender when shopping?

We all find ways to self soothe when we are having a bad day. It can be eating something decadent or treating ourselves to a new lipstick. But when it affects you being able to live, pay rent, etc. If buying one outfit is never enough, because shopping is a hobby it’s a sign that something else is at work:

  • Do you feel like there’s nothing better than purchasing and putting on a new outfit
  • Are your spending habits out of control, to the extent that it has escalated to an excessive level?
  • We all say a little bit of shopping never hurts anyone. But are you hiding purchases? Or lying about how much you spend?
  • Do you keep purchasing things you know you will never wear?

You need to examine what is causing you pain so that you can find an alternative solution. For example, when tempted to shop, think of the things you have always wanted to do. Like, learning a language or places you want to visit on your bucket list.

The money you waste on impulse purchases is money you can spend on your dreams. Isn’t that the kind of excitement you want to add to your life instead?

3. Do you buy clothes that do not match your lifestyle when shopping?

Spending time assessing your lifestyle needs will help reduce frustrations with your wardrobe. A great wardrobe is a reflection of your real-life, not your imaginary one:

Is the bulk of your wardrobe made up of items that you keep for a special occasion? If so, are they being worn? 

Do you find yourself with a lot of items with the price tag on them, or pieces you wear only once?

There is a simple way to ensure that your clothes match your lifestyle. So that each morning getting dressed is easy whether it’s to go to work or run errands. Start with a list of the activities you do on a daily basis. Below is an example, but click the link to get access to a sheet that lets you fill in your own activities.

DAYAMPM
MONDAYGYM/WORKHOME
TUESDAYWORKHOME
WEDNESDAYGYM/WORKYOGA/HOME
THURDAYWORKHOME
FRIDAYGYM/WORKDRINKS
SATURDAYGROCERY/SHOPPINGMOVIE
SUNDAYBRUNCHHOME

Next group the activities where you would wear the same kind of clothes and give them a new title. 

OUTFIT DESCRIPTIONQTY
GYM4
WORK5
CASUAL3
EVENING1
LOUNGEWEAR5

You are not just assessing the outfits you need but the frequency within which you wear them. So if you wear the same outfit more than twice, then you reduce your number accordingly. The google sheet will create for you the formula of how many outfits you actually need.

4. Do you buy items impulsively because you think they are cute?

I do not know how the word cute became part of our shopping habits. When you think of words to describe your style or how you want people to see you 9/10 times cute isn’t the first word. So why has it become the criteria for your shopping choices?

  • Do you crave the novelty of new items to get your pulse racing? 
  • Or when you shop do you find yourself picking up statement/trend pieces that you think are cute?8

These are the pieces that are behind why your clothes don’t work together. You have to think about creating outfits rather than individual pieces. When you pick up an item, think:

  • Will this work with 3 things I already own?
  • Does this fit my personal style? 
  • Will it help elevate my wardrobe in any way?

If you can’t answer yes to those 3 questions, then don’t buy it. 

5. Are you buying the same items over and over again?

If you have more than 6 of something in your wardrobe, it’s going to make your wardrobe feel less interesting. 

  • Ask yourself what item in your wardrobe do you have too many of? 
  • And if you didn’t buy it again what would you buy instead?

If you’re not sure, then organising your wardrobe by category.  You can then see how many pieces you have of the same thing so you stop purchasing more. How many times you have seen a wardrobe tour and the person has 40 pairs of jeans and they all pretty much look the same. The same thing you are thinking when you see that, you should apply to yourself.

6. Are you bored with what you own?

If you have more than 10 items in your wardrobe, it is impossible to have nothing to wear. Yet we are all guilty of complaining we have nothing to wear. What we actually mean is, I’m bored with what I have:

  • Are you sometimes underwhelmed by the choices in your wardrobe?
  • Does it feel like you see the same outfit combinations staring back at you?
  • Do you crave novelty? 

To shake things up and to find a new way to wear something you already own, change the way you view your items. So instead of grouping by category, organize by looks. 

Retail stores will often merchandise items by a color story so you can see how the pieces work together. So think of a couple of places that you know you will be attending in the next few weeks. 

Now go through your wardrobe and plan different outfits ahead of time. That way you can see your week ahead and your wardrobe is less daunting.

7. Do you sometimes compromise on the fit and the feel of an item because it’s a bargain you can’t walk away from?

Having an idea in your mind of how much to spend on an item is a great way to shop. Until it becomes your only criteria for shopping. Often we will overlook our body shapes and the quality of items to secure that bargain:

Have you bought things with the goal to lose/gain weight to fit into it? But they remain unworn in your wardrobe?

Have you bought items because the price was right but the fit is average?

Do you have items that are not comfortable?

Instead of owning 10 jumpers you never wear, invest in 1 that is nice against your skin and actually keeps you warm.  

When you are shopping whether it is online or in an actual store, check the fabric composition. Try to stick to natural fibers as much as possible. Not only are they better for the environment, but they also tend to fit better on you as well. Everything you own should feel nice against your skin.

Also, any new purchases should always be for your body now not the past or future.

8. Do you have clothes that no longer fit you still in your wardrobe?

Weight fluctuations can affect how often you reach for something. But we often keep those clothes because of the memories attached to them. As well as the hope we will fit into them again:

Have you recently lost weight? If so can the item be tailored or do you need to let it go?

Or maybe you have gained weight and plan to lose it. But once you achieve your weight goal you will want to buy new items anyway. So let it go now

Has your weight distributed differently as you get older?

Do you have pieces you have not worn for over 6 months due to weight changes?

Do you have body dissatisfaction?

Are you feeling like your body is not good enough and you hate what you see in the mirror? 

All this can stop you from pulling outfits together because you think you already have something that works. Or worse you punish yourself with clothes that no longer fit. When you try on your clothes if it isn’t flattering, you need to let it go. Stop giving yourself ways to see yourself in a negative way. Don’t measure yourself against how you used to look. Instead, embrace your new shape with clothes that actually fit. 

9. Are you finding buying essentials boring? Are you focused only on adding trends to your wardrobe?

Essential pieces or wardrobe basics can be the items that are boring to shop for. So instead you focus on the trend and statement pieces. But those pieces don’t always work with what you own and the majority have a short fashion shelf life. Sometimes before you even get to wear them they are no longer on-trend.  

Is your wardrobe full of too many trends and not enough essential pieces?

Do you follow all the trends? 

To stop wasting money on trends you need to make sure you buy the trends that fit your aesthetic. For example, there are many ways to wear corduroy.  But you need to find the style that meets your personal style. If you have a classic style you could choose a blazer. If you had a bohemian aesthetic you could get trousers. That way after the trend passes, you can still wear it. And if it’s not your aesthetic, don’t buy it.

10. Do your favourite influencers on social media influence you to buy? Are you seduced by the lifestyle that they have?

Blogs, Instagram, magazines, and Pinterest are great sources of inspiration. They can help you dress in fresh and exciting ways. But it doesn’t mean that you need to buy the same items that you see. 

There is a pressure that to look as good as the person you follow you have to swipe up to shop the exact look. 

Have you been influenced to buy something you’ve never worn or worn only once?

Do you spend hours on social media?

Are your Pinterest boards out of control?

The best way to use these as sources of inspiration is to set yourself a time limit. Follow people that have a similar style or aesthetic to you.  Challenge yourself to recreate looks you love with items that you already own.

11. Do you have too many options to select from?

You have probably heard this so many times, that less is better than more. But what does that exactly mean? Well if you have too much choice it can make it hard to notice the different and interesting ways to wear things.

For example, have you ever gone to a restaurant and the menu is 4 or 5 pages. It’s impossible to decide what to order, you end up confused with all the options. Then there are the restaurants that have a menu that is 1 or 2 pages. They have kept things simple, which makes it easy for you to choose.  

Is your wardrobe straining with the weight of the pieces you won?

Have you lost count of how many of the same things you have? But you need them all, even though you don’t wear them all?

Do you spend hours in front of your overflowing wardrobe trying to put an outfit together?

Do you complain about having nothing to wear?

This is when you need to edit your wardrobe. As you want everything in your wardrobe to go together. And to be a true reflection of your personal aesthetic.  Anything that doesn’t meet this you should get rid of.

12. Are there gaps in your wardrobe?

When you have a wardrobe that is full of gaps then nothing is cohesive or conducive to your lifestyle. Getting dressed is stressful and something you spend too much time thinking about. You may have gotten rid of most of your wardrobe in the hopes that it would give you joy. But instead, it’s made getting ready harder as you have kept things that were not right for your lifestyle.

Are you missing key items in your wardrobe? 

Do you feel like you can’t pull together an outfit that you love?

Does shopping leave you feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, confused, and discouraged?

Well if when you are shopping you are letting retailers dictate what you should buy. Then it’s time to focus on having a cohesive wardrobe of essentials and statement pieces. 

When you edited your wardrobe you made a list of the key items that you need. These are the pieces that will pull your looks together. Giving you a versatile wardrobe. And making getting dressed a simple, quick, and fun experience. You won’t even think about what to wear.

These 12 questions help you take a step back and think about how and why you shop. So that you stop wasting money on wear once items. and take back control of your wardrobe. I would love to know which triggers you relate to and what you are going to do to reduce them.

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