Written by: Cathy Curtis
There was a time when men’s grooming and fashion was as complicated as women – but that time is long gone. Today, women probably spend 4 x as much as men on their appearance and unwittingly get caught in the trap of trying to keep up with the fashion and beauty industry. Clothes shopping can get out of control, destroying other financial goals. Fortunately, with some effort, it’s possible to start spending more prudently.
The first step is to face reality. Go over last year’s credit card and bank statements and figure out how much money went to clothing and accessories. Then, cut back 30% from your past spending at first. (To try to cut spending abruptly and drastically is a recipe for failure, so best to do it in stages).
So now, with your new reduced budget – here are some tips to stick to it. Notice that many of these tips are as much about the psychology of shopping as they are about the acquiring of new clothing.
1. Try very hard to schedule shopping trips and not spontaneously drop into your favorite stores just to “take a look at what is new.”
2. Don’t shop when you are lonely, tired, frustrated, anxious or bored.
3. Avoid shopping immediately after a setback or a major victory.
4. When you catch yourself in a shopping frenzy, leave the store before buying anything and get centered.
5. Don’t let friends, shop-owners or salespeople convince you that something looks great on you when you know perfectly well that it doesn’t.
6. Decide what you need in your wardrobe and make a list. Take the list with you when you go shopping.
7. Before you buy anything on sale ask yourself whether you would buy it at full price.
8. Think quality, not quantity. Not only will the item of clothing last longer, but you are likely to love it longer too.
9. Stop the rationalizing- you don’t need a whole new wardrobe because you got a new job.
10. Buy things you’re going to wear now, not for a far-off occasion or event that may never happen.
11. Buy clothing for the way you live now, not for the way you wish you were living. (Buying a cocktail dress when you never go to cocktail parties.)
12. Avoid buying one-off pieces of clothing that don’t go with anything in your wardrobe.
13. Don’t buy clothing in the wrong size thinking either that you will lose weight or that you will have it “taken in”.
14. Try shopping with cash not credit cards – easier to set limits.
15. Limit the amount of trendy items you buy to just a small percentage of your wardrobe.
18. Think #10 – everything you buy should be as close to a “10” as possible.
19. Realize that a new dress, skirt, blouse or jacket are not going to make you more beautiful or change your life.
20. To help make better buying decisions, analyze your wardrobe to understand what your favorite go-to pieces are. What are the common themes?
21. Hone-in what colors and styles look best on you to limit choices.
22. Instead of going shopping with girlfriends, do something else, go for a hike, to a museum, out to lunch.
23. One-in, one-out rule. (If your wardrobe is very large, you may want to release 2 or 3 pieces for each that you buy).
24. Think like an economist and analyze cost per wear before buying.
25. Now, track your clothing and accessory spending for a few months. Set a new lower budget for the next month. Tracking will also show whether you buy the same items over and over, which is very common. How many pairs of jeans or black tank tops does one need?
It may take several attempts to kick the shopping habit. But with each small victory you will get stronger. Just think about all the time and money you will gain by not buying so many clothes. It will be worth it.
p.s. This post is written by someone who loves fashion and who continues to incorporate these tips into her own shopping habits