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Like most people, shopping for clothes makes me feel both joy and regret. It was always an outlet for me, providing everything from entertainment to comfort on a bad day. But I also knew my over-shopping was hurting my budget. Even worse? I was constantly rebuying similar items — the six chambray shirts in my closet are proof of that.
This is a pretty common thing: According to a survey from Finery, a wardrobe app, 40% of women have purchased an item of clothing similar to something they already own, and 83% have lost nearly $100 in unreturned items in the past year — of things they didn't even wear!
I’m guilty of this but have made a conscious effort to get better. Here’s how I broke the cycle of over-shopping — and how you can, too.
Once I was out of college and had been in the workforce for a few years, I decided my wardrobe should reflect my professional persona.
I combed through my closet with a discerning eye, pitching the bodycon dresses and pleather pants that were previously part of my regular rotation but just didn’t fit with my current lifestyle. I also whittled down my collection of fast-fashion pieces, like the countless cheap T’s and blouses that only last a season or two.
With each article of clothing, I asked myself, would a professional journalist wear this? Does it fit right now? If the answer was no, I pitched it. I didn’t go straight Swedish death cleaning, but I did empty my closet and only re-hang clothes that were quality, age-appropriate items that fit both my body and my lifestyle.
Cut Out Aspirational Shopping
Being aspirational about your wardrobe isn’t always a good thing. Focus on buying only clothing that fits your life. For example, if you work in a business-casual office, it doesn’t make sense to splurge on a designer suit, no matter how well it fits. If you’re a T-shirt-and-jeans girl, buying sequin leggings won't help you become the kind of person who wears sequin leggings. Trust me: They will never see the outside of your closet.
Today, as a full-time freelancer who works from home, I limit my clothing purchases to the strictly casual, like comfy sweaters and more athleisure than I care to admit — but at least they get worn. I don’t buy blazers, dresses or even jeans. After all, who wears jeans in their own home? Masochists, that’s who.
Did you know some millennials spend more than six hours each day checking email? Hit unsubscribe from the distractions. Not only will it declutter your inbox, but opting out of emails from retailers will help curb your spending.
I've found that if I'm not being constantly reminded of what I could buy, I spend less. The same goes for following fashion bloggers on Instagram. Remember that “influencers” earn cash each time you buy what they’re wearing. Plus, they likely received the item for free in the first place. Unfollow.
Rent Instead of Buy
Of course you want to look your best for special occasions like weddings, holiday parties and birthdays, since you know it’ll end up on the ‘gram. But if you’re dressing for a special occasion, chances are, you’ll only wear it once.
Take advantage of rental services like Rent the Runway or Le Tote. I’ve found the former to be an economical option for weddings and other events, while the latter is a subscription service great for temporarily refreshing your wardrobe.
I used to be the girl who needed a new dress for every wedding, graduation ceremony or family photo opp. Now, Rent the Runway is my best friend. A few weeks ago, I attended a beach wedding, and instead of shelling out for a summery dress that I'd likely only wear once, I paid $40 to rent a yellow silk wrap dress that retailed for $400.
Another bonus? That dress isn't taking up precious real estate in my closet.
Up Your Laundry Game
This sounds simple, but it worked. I do laundry more often. That way, my favorite pair of high-waisted jeans are always clean, and I'm not tempted to buy a second (or third) pair. Another tip: Invest in matching velvet hangers. It will make a world of difference in the aesthetics of your closet, and it will keep you motivated to keep things organized and tidy.