You may have a closet full of designer dresses and funky bags, but how many do you really use/wear on a regular basis? Which are the pieces you can't live without? Which ones make you feel the best? Call it sale goggles or shopaholic's disease, but I'm as guilty as the next girl of impulse buying, wearing things once and sometimes never again. I guess I've taken the first step towards recovery from shopaholism and admitted that I have a problem. But now what? I've thought about it a lot recently and come up with a few 'rules' and things that I keep in mind while shopping that really help me keep my buying under control. So, here goes... Before you even go shopping...
Do a 'closet' inventory and look at the things in it you love (those things that make you feel the best when you wear them), the things you hate, and the things in between. Ask yourself why you feel the way you do about each of the pieces, and try to remember what made you buy them. Then, think about your lifestyle. Do you wear mostly casual pieces, or do you need a lot of suits and work-appropriate things? Do you travel a lot? What's your budget? What designers fit you the best? The worst? What stores do you like to frequent? Do you like to shop by yourself or with friends? (I highly recommend shopping by yourself if you are looking for specific things, social shopping doesn't usually yield the best results) Keep all these questions and answers in mind when you're shopping - you can even make a list of things you don't need and things you need, stores to stay away from, and sales associates to avoid (you know the ones) if that helps. FINALLY...always remember that fashion is about having fun, enjoying your body and expressing your personality. The Golden Rule: It's cost per wear that counts, not total cost.
This is a fundamental rule for me and guides most of my purchases. You need to get value from your purchases, so look for high quality items, purchase them from reputable stores, and most of all, KNOW yourself and your style and what you will wear the most. The best example of this for me is my Sportmax clogs. I bought these from my MaxMara store last year (at full price, which was the most I ever paid for shoes) and have worn them so much they've already had to be re-soled - compliments of MaxMara. I love clogs, and when I saw these in a magazine, I instantly knew I had to have them. I didn't think twice about it and have been very happy with my purchase - so far they've cost me about $2.00/wear and that is going down every time I wear them. By the time I'm through will them, I'm sure they'll be down to .10/wear. That's much better than the $50 pair of shoes I've worn once and will never wear again...But, it's not always that easy to identify such a great purchase though, I have made many mistakes that I now regret. The key is knowing what items you wear year after year that compliment your lifestyle.Number One: DO NOT buy on sale something you wouldn't pay full price for.
Sometimes this rule can be successfully broken, but most of the time it's spot on. I cannot tell you how many things I have in my closet that I purchased becuase they were 50% off, NOT because I loved them. On the other hand, I know the sale cycles at my favorite stores and if I see something I need that I just can't pay full price for, I'll wait until it goes on sale (and most of the time it does). Case in point - Anthropologie
. If I could, I would pay full price for most items there, but I know I won't have to becuase they have sales so frequently, and most of the time you can get fabulous pieces for 50% off regular price. This is one store I stalk about once every two weeks to see what's on sale. Bottom line: buy something on sale only if you loved it when it was full-price. Number Two: DO NOT buy something just becuase it 'fits.'
Because the size I take varies greatly from designer to designer and store to store, and I'm pretty difficult to fit, I get all worked up when I try something on that actually fits me. This is especially dangerous during certain times of the month when I'm emotionally 'vulnerable.' After making lots of mistakes and actually ending up with a new pair of capris (gasp!) so as a result, I've implemented rule number three: Number Three: Don't buy on the spot. Leave and if you're still thinking about it 24 hours later, go back and get it.
This actually works quite well. I've tried on some things that I thought I absolutely couldn't live without, left the store and forgot all about them! It's saved me a lot of money and kept my closet free to be filled with things I'll actually wear. When you put this into practice, you'll really start to be more in tuned to the things that really fit with your style and lifestyle. When I saw the Botkier large steel trigger at Barney's Co-Op, I instantly wanted it, but I put it on hold over the weekend to think it over. Needless to say, I couldn't get it out of my head all weekend, so I went back to get it and never looked back; it is my all-time favorite bag. Number Four Don't buy things out of season.
I know this is going to create some controversy, but I just don't do it anymore. No matter how much I want this Vince sweater for fall, I'm not buying it now, becuase one, I can't wear it now, two, in a couple of months when I can wear it, I might not like it anymore, and three, it may go on sale in a few months when it's actually in season. I'm an instant gratification kind of girl, and if I can't use it now, I don't like to buy it. Same goes for things that go on sale before or after season, like the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale. You can find lots of great season-less things at the anniversary sale, but they are pros at taking advantage of our weakness for things on sale. Putting the 'price after sale' on there pushes most of us over the edge to buy, but when it comes time to actually wear it, we're not interested anymore. Number Five: Know what you need and seek out high-quality basics
Look for the holes in your wardrobe and fill them with classic, high-quality items you will wear often and look great on you. I have a pretty casual lifestyle, so my basics are t-shirts, skirts, and jeans. My favorite t-shirts, both long and short sleeve, are James Perse
; they stand up to many wears, hold their shape, and fit me perfectly. Don't go overboard with jeans either, you really only need a couple of pairs: one for weekend and one for 'going-out.' My favorites right now are Goldsign, but check out the Denim Guide
to see our readers favorites and learn how they really fit. Number Six: Limit yourself to buying ONE trendy/must-have item a month.
This is sometimes a tough one to follow because when you walk into any store, you're inundated with all the new, trendy items you absolutely must have for the season. Fine, there's nothing wrong with partaking of a trend every once in a while, but unless it's one that you wear anyway, whether it's trendy or not, you must resist the urge to buy everything you see. I love to wear long skirts, so this summer was great for me - the boho trend made lots of beautiful long skirts available, and I wear them all the time anyway, so it was a good opportunity for me to pick some beautiful pieces that are not always easy to find. If you're really not into boho, you just need one or two pieces that you can wear this season then forget about. For that, I would suggest checking out Forever21, The Gap, Old Navy, La Redoute, Boden, Bluefly, and other discount sites. These are the perfect places to visit if you're just looking for something to wear one season. Resist the urge to buy the amazing Matthew Williamson dresses at Net-a-Porter unless you have lots of disposable income, or you know they will be staples in your wardrobe for years to come.
Written by Grechen Cohen, President & CEO, www.grechenscloset.com