Three Questions to Ask Yourself Before Buying Something

I’ll be the first one to admit there has been more than one occasion where I’ve made a mistake shopping. Maybe I bought something I didn’t really need or wasn’t great quality, and I get rid of it the next season with the disappointment that I didn’t make a wise decision. The tips in this post come partly from things I’ve read and the experience of finding out the hard way, but I’m still need to remind myself of this advice when I’m shopping. It’s very easy to use shopping as a fun hobby/activity and cashing in on those good endorphins you get when you make a purchase (whether online or in real life), but in the long run it can be hard to maintain. It’s called retail therapy for a reason – shopping can make you feel good, however, it can create a closet of chaos and confusion. The more random things you buy, the more you’ll say “I have nothing to wear”.

source: time magazine

I’m trying to get in the habit of asking myself these three questions before buying any clothing item:

  1. Can I picture it 3 different ways? My goal is to create a cohesive wardrobe where I can get multiple uses out of each item. This means before I buy something I try to image three different outfits I can wear it with. This helps me avoid buying something too crazy that I won’t find myself wearing because it’s hard to wear. If I can visualize it being apart of my wardrobe then it has value to it. There are some exceptions to this rule – I have a pair of red cowboy boots I only wear once or twice a year but they’re a fun item I look forward to wearing when the occasion arises.
  2. Do I love it? Or do I love the price? Ouch, this one hits home for me. Too often I’ve found myself buying something because I kind of liked the item, but loved the price even more. There is something so fun about getting a deal that we often don’t use our best judgement in whether this item checks other boxes. My first thought goes to a blazer that wasn’t quite my size but bought it because it was a good price. It sat in my closet rarely worn because it didn’t fit correctly until I donated it.  Ask yourself if you really love something before you buy it, or do you need to save up for the best version of the item? (Example: Do I get the cream sweater at Old Navy for half off, or do I save up for the L.L. Bean version that I’ll wear for years?)
  3. Does it fulfill a purpose in my closet or do I have something similar? If you’re anything like me, you probably have way too many of a certain item in your closet – for me it’s striped shirts and blue oxford cloth button downs. Ask yourself if the item you’re eyeing actually will fill a “hole” in your closet, meaning it will serve a purpose to help you wear your other items more practically. Maybe you have a lot of boots, but you don’t have the right pants to wear with them. Investing in a pair of pants that tuck into boots nicely will serve a purpose more than just buying another pair of boots. I fall into the trap of buying similar items to ones I already own, so I’m trying to be more strategic with my future purchases to get the most out of my wardrobe.


Practical advice for shopping:

When I’m in a store, I will pick up items as I walk around that I would consider purchasing. After either trying them on, or simply making my way around the store, I take a second look and them and decide if I really love them. This has always given me that joy of shopping “love at first sight” and then I can do a practical run through after I’ve seen everything in the store. More often than not, I leave empty handed or with one item.

It’s also wise to be discerning about who you shop with. Do you have something whose judgement you trust? Or do they love and support everything you pick up no matter what? I find my mom is my best shopping partner because I can trust her to tell me the truth about whether or not I should purchase something.

If I’m online, I will keep items in my cart and leave the website. If I’m still thinking about them the next day, then something tells me I should take a second look. More often than not, I forget all about it!

Do you have any practical advice for shopping? What are some ways your stop yourself from over spending or buying things you don’t need?


2 Comments on Three Questions to Ask Yourself Before Buying Something

  1. Kristen from Pugs & Pearls
    September 6, 2018 at 9:03 am (5 years ago)

    Excellent suggestions Robin!! I was just thinking about this very thing. One of my shirts in my closet is taunting me because I know I only bought it because it was so cheap.
    One thing that definitely helps me is trying things on! I can almost always talk myself out of buying something after I try it on.

    • thedressdecoded
      September 9, 2018 at 8:04 pm (5 years ago)

      you’re totally right! trying it on definitely helps. sometimes i’m too lazy to try it on because i know my size (or i think i do), but it always looks different on!


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