We originally published this article on June 16, 2018.
If you’re like a lot of Americans, your spending habits may have changed during the Covid-19 pandemic. For many of us, staying at home meant spending less and saving more. And with nowhere to go, buying new clothes didn’t feel like a priority.
Now that the economy is reopening, you may feel the urge to make up for lost time—and potentially reignite your shopping habit. Before returning to old habits that are interfering with your financial goals, getting you into trouble with a significant other, causing you to rack up credit card debt, or simply making you feel bad about yourself, consider these strategies to get your clothes shopping habit under control.
First, Face Reality
Compare last year’s credit card and bank statements to 2019 and figure out how much money went to clothing and accessories each year. If your clothes budget decreased significantly over the last 12-15 months, you may not be able to reasonably maintain that level of spending post-pandemic. Instead, set a new goal to cut your 2019 clothes and accessories budget by 20%. (Trying to cut spending too much at first is a recipe for failure, so it’s best to do it in stages.)
Now that you have a new budget, you’ll need some strategies to stick to it.
Consider these tips to get your clothes shopping habit under control:
Notice that many of these tips are as much about the psychology of shopping as they are about the acquiring of new clothing, shoes, and accessories.
- Try very hard to intentionally schedule shopping trips instead of spontaneously dropping into your favorite stores just to “take a look at what is new.”
- Don’t shop when you are lonely, tired, frustrated, anxious or bored.
- Avoid shopping immediately after a setback or a major victory.
- When the adrenalin kicks in and you catch yourself in a shopping frenzy, leave the store before buying anything. Focus on centering yourself first.
- Don’t let friends, shop-owners or salespeople convince you that something looks great on you when you don’t think it does, or it’s just not your style.
- Decide what you need in your wardrobe and make a list. Take the list with you when you go shopping.
- Before you buy anything on sale, ask yourself whether you would buy it at full price.
- Think quality, not quantity. Not only will the item of clothing last longer, but you are likely to love it longer too.
- Stop rationalizing. You don’t need a whole new wardrobe because you got a new job or because you now work at home.
- Buy things you’re going to wear now, not for a far-off occasion or event that may never happen.
- Buy clothing for the way you live now, not for the way you wish you were living. (For example, buying a fancy dress when you never go to fancy parties.)
- Avoid buying one-off pieces of clothing that don’t go with anything in your wardrobe.
- Don’t buy clothing in the wrong size thinking you’ll lose weight or have it “taken in.” (Although, having a good tailor is worth its weight in gold.)
- Try shopping with cash, not credit cards. It’s easier to set limits.
- Limit the number of trendy items you buy to just a small percentage of your wardrobe.
- Think #10: everything you buy should be as close to a “10” as possible.
- Realize that a new dress, skirt, blouse, or jacket are not going to make you more beautiful or change your life.
- To help make better buying decisions, analyze your wardrobe to understand what your favorite go-to pieces are. What are the common themes?
- Home in on what colors and styles look best on you to limit choices.
- Instead of going shopping with girlfriends, do something else, like going for a hike, to a museum, or out to lunch.
- One-in, one-out rule. (If your wardrobe is very large, you may want to release two or two pieces for each that you buy.)
- Think like an economist and analyze cost per wear before buying.
- Track your clothing and accessories spending to hold yourself accountable.
Kick Your Shopping Habit, Once and for All
If you’re able to stick to your new budget for a few months, set a lower budget for the next month and see how it goes. Tracking your spending not only keeps you honest, but it will also show you if you tend to buy the same items over and over, which is very common. How many pairs of jeans or black tank tops does one need?
It may take several attempts to get your clothes shopping habit under control. But with each small victory, you will get stronger. Just think about all the time and money you will gain by not buying so many clothes and what else you can do with it to make your life better.
P.S. This post is written by someone who loves fashion and who continues to incorporate these tips into her own shopping habits. 🙂