3 strategies to help you stop buying clothes you never wear

Back when I was in school, I developed a mysterious liking for vintage hats. I imagined I would wear them to tea parties like the ones thrown by the Mad Hatter, or to the horse races, which I imagined to be more My Fair Lady than Punter's Way. I ended up wearing a grand total of zero and these days they're used as fruit bowls around the house.

If you have the same problem of buying clothes and accessories that never see the light of day, you're probably making a few mistakes when you go shopping. If you're not ready to give up buying clothes but want to up your mileage on each item, here are a couple of tips.

1. Before buying something new, identify 3 occasions where you can wear it in the next 6 months

The mind is a funny thing. It can come up with all sorts of excuses as to why you shouldn't go for a medical check up, or why it makes so much sense to buy another drink when your eyeballs are already threatening to roll into the back of your head.

The same goes with clothing purchases. Even the flightiest of shoppers asks themselves if they will actually wear something before they buy it. The problem is that they don't ask this question in the most effective way.

Instead, ask yourself "Can I identify 3 occasions within the next 6 months where I will use this item?" Unless you can list the 3 precise occasions with certainty (eg. Friend's wedding, office Christmas party, mother's birthday. Or 3 days at work.) you don't get to buy the item. This prevents you from buying feather boas or sequined tube tops unless you work as a drag queen.

Use if you: have a habit of amassing ridiculous buys

2. Identify gaps in your wardrobe and buy only clothes that fill in these gaps

Have you ever found yourself in the situation where you have so many work shirts that you can wear a different one every day for the rest of your life, but are forced to wear the same pair of work pants every day of the week until laundry day on Saturday?

The above problem can be alleviated if you channel your resources towards buying another pair of pants, instead of getting another 20 shirts tailored in between shots at Thai pubs in Bangkok.

In fact, you can take this one step further by constructing a list of gaps in your wardrobe. When you go shopping, instead of wandering the aisles aimlessly until you suddenly see 100 items you like, you can then home in on exactly what you need-and then get the hell out of there.

Use if you: have a lot of some items but lack essentials

3. Buy only things you are absolutely in love with

This strategy works well for those people who tend to buy a lot of cheap clothes at sales that they later end up feeling indifferent about or even hating. The problem is that when you buy such items, you do so not because you really like them or think they could be useful. Instead, this little voice in your head tells you that you cannot possibly miss out on such a great deal or you'll bring shame upon your ancestors.

If you have the "more is better" bargain queen/king mentality, tell yourself you'll only buy a clothing item if you are completely head over heels in love with it.

This might at times result in your paying a little more for a higher quality item. But it will save you from the curse of drowning under mountains of cheap, ugly clothing, the cost of which can easily add up, especially if you're the sort of person who goes crazy each time you hit up Bangkok.

Use if you: are addicted to sales

This article first appeared in MoneySmart at http://blog.moneysmart.sg/lifestyle/3-strategies-to-help-you-stop-buying-clothes-you-never-wear/

MoneySmart.sg is Singapore’s leading personal finance portal, and aims to help people maximise their money with powerful tools and engaging content.


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