It takes time, money, and energy to become a smart shopper. You do not need to spend a lot of money to look good, but it does require a conscious and logical mind to avoid the shopping trap. There are way more things out there than our wallet can buy.
At some point in life we have all purchased things that were heavily discounted but looked just OK on us, but we would still purchase it because “it is such a good deal.” I’m sure there are a couple pieces off the top of your head. It could be a color that doesn’t look flattering on you, it could be a size that was a tad too small or too big, it could be a style that emphasize all the wrong parts of your body, but we would still buy it because it is on discount.
As a new working professional, my closet is no longer filled with trendy pieces but classy quality blouses and blazers that I can wear for years to come.
Before I consider an item, I ask myself: do I need it or do I want it?
There are critical differences between needs and wants. Needs could range from daily necessities such as socks and underwear to the snow jacket you need to last through winter, but be aware that you need it not only because you lack it, but because it is something required for daily life or required for an event or trip.
You do not need it if you already have one and is lusting after a new color or style and you do not need it if can go on living your life without it.
Now, there are some rules of thumb that I go through before I make a purchase. If any item fails to meet any one criteria, put it back on the shelf.
1. Does it fit right?
This should be a no-brainer, but apparently not so unless we consciously think about it. You could be trying on your normal size pants, but it is loose around your thigh, it is tight under your crotch, or it squeezes your behind forming an unflattering shape. Or you could be trying on your normal size top, but it is loose under your arm making it gap, or for those that are well-endowed or not so well endowed, the chest area does not fit right.
Every piece of clothing even by the same brand has a different fit. If any part of the clothing does not feel right, put it back on the shelf. It does not matter if it is $10 or more than 50% off. If it does not fit right and does not have a flattering fit, leave it, save that money for another piece that will fit just right.
2. Does it work with your closet?
Think about what you already have in your closet. Think about the color palette of your outfits. Then think about how this particular piece of clothing play into the mix. Can you already envision a variety of ways to work this new addition with other pieces in your closet? If the answer is yes, proceed to next criteria.
3. Do you already have something like it?
If you already have three pairs of black slim pants, do you need another pair of black slim pants? You might argue that it fits you better and it very well might be, then maybe you should be donating or selling your pair that “does not fit as well.”
4. Is it good quality?
Feel the material; is it soft, does it wrinkle easily? Check the seams; is it sewn with care, do you see loose threads, are the buttons coming off? These are all indicators you should be aware of. Again, price in a non factor if it doesn’t yell quality. This is also why I’ve drifted away from brands such as H&M, Forever 21, and Charlotte Russe. My favorite brands for quality clothing are Zara, Ann Taylor, White House Black Market, Mango, and Express.
5. Is there a time frame?
Is it something that will go out of fashion? Will it go out of season soon or will continue to be a timeless classic. Is it something too young for your age or too old for your age. If there is an expiration date on how long you can wear this piece, how much you spend on it should be proportionally less.
6. Is it worth it?
For the money, are you getting the most out of it? How often you will use it should be put into calculation. Also, I consider the difference between functional vs stylish items. For the staple winter coat, I will probably spend a little more to get a high wool content coat than a good looking coat made of polyester.
If the item in question passes all 6 criteria, congratulations, you have found your next smart purchase. If the item does not pass all 6 criteria, put it back and stop thinking about it.
Many of my items have a * next to the price. It means I purchased at discount.