If you are new to my blog, you’ve probably already figured out that I’m just coming off of a year of no-new-clothes shopping!
Having a year off has really forced me to understand my wardrobe. Not only what I have, but what I need, don’t need, and what still has it’s tags attached…
Quality vs. Quantity
Oh the age-old debate. Would you rather have ten $10 cheap items or one $100 quality item? Though the quality choice is ideal, it’s just not that easy. With stores like Forever 21 and Topshop offering insane deals on every day items and clearance, who wouldn’t want a bunch of fun, patterned, textured pieces in a variety of shapes and colors???
It’s not easy, is it? I will say that I get a bad taste in my mouth now when I think about buying anything from Forever 21. I have thrown away/donated so many items during the year that were mostly fine when I bought them, but that changed sizes, warped, tore, stretched, pulled, or just fell apart at the drop of a hat. One tank top, for instance, had seams that were three inches off on each side (one going down the front of the body, one going down the back)…something I didn’t notice when I picked it up off the table for $2.80, not even trying it on because I knew my size.
I’m not trying to give Forever 21 a bad name. Not all of their clothes are this way, in fact, some of my favorite items are from this brand! However, it make you wonder how they can afford to sell them at such great prices. Where do they compensate for that? Is it a sweat shop in rural China? Is it the low-wages they offer employees? Is it the lack of quality assurance?
On the flip side, paying $100 for something doesn’t ensure it is of the highest quality either. The fact of the matter is you have to set rules for yourself, whether written or mental. Inspect the article of clothing before you fish out $20 for it (just this past Saturday, my friend noticed a huge snag on the back of a dress she was trying on. She was able to replace it right then and there and let the store know so that they could [hopefully] take it off the rack). Decide of what value that particular item is worth to you. Do you wear it one season a year? Is it practical? What is your experience with the brand? Is it too similar to something you already have?
Defining Your Style
I didn’t really set out on this challenge to define a style for myself, but I’ve definitely noticed patterns in what appealed to me when I was only able to buy a handful of things during the year.
I have just recently discovered into-mind.com, a website that is dedicated to helping others define their own personal style and create the perfect wardrobe. The creator has a variety of helpful articles from assessing the quality of garments to diagnosing your wardrobe to developing your own signature look. Lists and guides are perfect for neurotic folks like me 🙂 I am really excited about this discovery. I wish I would have found it sooner so I could have applied many of the principles to my no-new-clothes challenge, but I will definitely be leaning on this website for support in the next few months.
Limit Online Shopping
In this day and age, it is so easy to buy something online, especially with credit cards and exclusive online deals. I remember learning in a psychology class (and reading about it here and there) that the brain actually registers pain with handing over cash for items. This same type of pain is less severe when using credit, because you are not registering it the same type of way as you do with cash. This makes using credit cards super easy, not to mention convenient.
I can attest that the majority of clothes that I sold that still had tags on them, were from online deals (especially when Forever 21 has their 50% off clearance sales) which were final sale. Unless you are buying from a brand that runs true to your size (and how often does that happen anymore? When I’m at H&M, my size runs from a 4 to a 12…that’s a big variety), limit your online purchases. Be especially weary of the fine print.
Tips for Others
- Just because it’s a really good deal doesn’t mean you have to have it. I know this “but what if they run out and I missed out” feeling all too well. You’ll live, trust me. If not, you can probably find it on eBay someday, ha.
- Try to avoid “final sale” items. What if after the first you wear it, you notice a terrible flaw. Only stores with great customer service will be willing to remedy the issue.
- Think before you buy. Do you have something that is similar? Do you need to get rid of other items in your closet before you buy more?
- Know your spending habits. Mint.com is a great and safe tool for tracking all financial aspects. You can import your bank accounts, credit cards, and loans so you can track everything in one place. I’ve used it for over 3 years now and it is simply wonderful. It’s endorsed by several well-known companies like MSNBC, the New York Times, Wallstreet Journal, etc. I’ve never run into any privacy issues, and you can’t actually manage your money through it–only view it and track it.
- Try to use cash if you can. This is one of the biggest keys to budgeting (and the one I need to work on most). This will limit you to spending what you actually have, and not getting yourself into debt.
One more section to go! Look for Part 4 which includes new purchases post-challenge, as well as rules I have set for myself moving forward.