As a recovering shopaholic and impulse buyer, I understand all too well the lure of the shiny object and the flash-in-the-pan trend. My whole closet used to be full of them. And it was a hot mess.
After years of buying anything and everything that caught my eye, I finally realized that my wardrobe was not working. It wasn’t versatile, sustainable and I never felt well dressed in spite of the fact that I was always shopping.
I was a fashion victim.
It wasn’t until I decided to be intentional about building a wardrobe that things started to change. Slowly, I built a wardrobe that worked, with outfit ideas that made me feel pulled together and a sustainable style that lasted season after season.
I stopped having to start over with my wardrobe season after season and instead found myself with a wardrobe that worked year after year.
And it all started when I stopped shopping mindlessly and started asking myself these questions before every purchase. These are the gatekeeper questions to ask yourself before allowing anything new to enter your wardrobe.
Keep them on your phone, and soon asking these questions will become second nature.
Is it on my list?
If you don’t know what’s missing from your wardrobe, how can you shop for it? In the same way that you wouldn’t go to a grocery store without taking a quick look in your kitchen to see what you need, you shouldn’t go shopping for clothes without an idea of what you are lacking in your wardrobe. And in my opinion, based on working with over 1000 clients and working as a personal stylist for the last 15 years, most women are missing some wardrobe essentials.
So assess your wardrobe, decide what’s missing, and keep a running list of those items on your phone. Then when you walk into a store, you are armed with a list and can be focused on your shopping.
Can I wear it to 3 different places?
Clothes that are more versatile and can be worn, for example, to work and on the weekend, should be prioritized over clothes that can only be worn for formal occasions, for example, or to the beach. These should get the bulk of your wardrobe budget.
Can I wear it with 3 different things?
A similar question to ask is whether the item works well with the other items n your wardrobe. Can it be worn with at least 3 other items you already own. (This of course mostly applies to separates and not to dresses, for example, which are standalone items.)
Does it suit my lifestyle?
See the 3 different places point, above. Is this an item that works in your actual day to day life, or something more aspirational? For example, if you don’t go to many cocktail parties, you don’t need cocktail dresses.
I said what I said. I know we all need that reminder now and then.
Does it work with my color palette?
If you haven’t chosen your wardrobe neutrals, at minimum, then you may still be struggling to build a versatile wardrobe. Start there before you hit the stores. Then you can ensure that the items you are bringing in will translate into beautiful outfits when combined with your wardrobe.
Do I love it?/Is it a staple?
Clothes essentially fall into two categories: Staples/Essentials and Statements. If it’s a staple, and you don’t already own it, it’s probably a safe bet. If it’s a statement, first ask yourself if you really and truly love it. And if it passes most of the other tests in this post. And then, if you can afford it and it checks enough boxes, go for it.
Is it on sale?
Buyer beware. Sometimes we want things just because they are on sale. Or cheap. I know, I know. So, unless you would buy it at regular price, and it checks some of the other boxes, resist the temptation to stock up on sale items.
Is it a trend or a fad?
When shopping for seasonal updates, it makes sense to choose a couple of current items tor refresh your wardrobe, but it’s important to separate the trends, which can last for more than a season or two, and a flash-in-the-pan fad. Avoid extremes and shop for updated pieces in fresh silhouettes instead.
Can I wear it again?
At the risk of sounding like that broken record, don’t blow your entire wardrobe budget on a dress for a special event. Beg, borrow, or steal (just kidding) special occasion items, and save your money for wardrobe workhorses instead.
Am I bored?
Sometimes, we shop because we are in a mood, and that’s the wardrobe equivalent of going to the grocery store on an empty stomach. You will buy junk, and you will regret it.
I hope that these questions help you to stop before you shop. so that you can buy intentionally and build a wardrobe that you love and that helps you feel beautiful and confident every single day.