By Aimee Piersma
Isn’t it amazing how we can have a closet full of clothing and still feel we have have nothing to wear? How many hours have we spent in our lifetimes, staring at overwhelming options. We have stories for every piece…reasons we love them, reasons we don’t wear them! So even though it’s irrational, sometimes it’s easier to just go buy something new.
It’s not the worst problem to have. Much of the world struggles with the problem of not having enough. But we can address their problems as well as ours by taking a more intentional approach to shopping.
What we really need is less, not more. Fewer options we like makes getting ready in the morning so much easier.
Here are a few tips for developing a wardrobe plan that saves you time, money, and stress, while also helping the environment and contributing to the well-being of people all over the world.
Take an honest look at what you have. Get rid of clothes that no longer fit, don’t look good on you, or just aren’t ever worn, even if you don’t know why. These things aren’t worth the mental drain. Then put together outfits with what you have. You might not even need more clothes! When we take the time to evaluate what we have honestly, we find we don’t need as much as we think we do.
- Make a Plan
There are two components of a great shopping plan: understanding your style and then creating a specific shopping list.
The process of developing your style starts with thinking about your favorite things: favorite colors, foods, hobbies, eras, and anything else that “sparks joy” as Marie Kondo would say. Do you like flowers? Polka dots? Fancy dresses? Baseball caps? Are you a type A personality who likes streamlined simplicity in her wardrobe? A creative who likes lots of color and options? Consider creating an inspiration board – either on paper or Pinterest – and think about how you can translate those pieces of who you are into your appearance.
Never go shopping without knowing exactly what you’re looking for. Make a list by answering these questions: What could you buy that will allow you to wear your other pieces more often? What are you getting rid of that needs to be replaced? What events are coming up in your schedule that you don’t yet have an outfit for? Then give yourself enough time to find the right pieces. For example, don’t go shopping on Friday evening for a dress to wear to a wedding the next day! Chances are, you’ll wear it once, won’t feel comfortable in it, and will have wasted money and emotional energy. Sticking to your wardrobe plan and your shopping list ensures that what’s in your closet fits your body, your real life, and your personality. And that frees you to go do that thing.
Seriously, our landfills don’t need any more clothing. And what isn’t working for you will work for someone else. Pass it on! Then shop at stores where others are doing the same thing.
Take the clothes you’re done with to the thrift store, the rescue mission, or whatever local place you have where they’ll make good use of them. Newer or more expensive pieces could bring in some cash at the consignment store. My favorite is the kind of store that offers cash or store credit on the spot for your stuff. Check out crossroadstrading.com for an example. Maybe you have one near you!
I approach shopping at thrift stores like treasure hunting. If you’re willing to do some digging, you’ll find something truly unique. Usually you’re donating to a good cause in the process. Look for a Goodwill or Salvation Army near you!
I have a friend whose favorite place to shop is eBay. If you are looking for something specific and you know the brand and color, chances are you’ll find it on eBay. Designer pieces, cashmere sweaters and Uggs are available in abundance! Also check out Poshmark , Tradesy , and ThredUp for online consignment shopping.
- Buy Ethically
Maybe you just prefer new clothes. If so, you have the opportunity to do some good with your purchases. The list of clothing companies committed to ethical and sustainable practices is growing. Everlane stocks trendy basics that are in high demand, and lets you know right next to each piece where it was made and the practices
of that factory. Their website is actually a great place to learn about behind-the-scenes manufacturing and pricing practices in the fashion industry. Also consider:
If your personal style is more sporty and outdoorsy, try Patagonia
If you like comfortable classics, try Eileen Fisher
A quick Google search for “slow fashion” or “ethical shopping” will bring up even more options for shopping as well as learning about the topic.
- Buy seasonally
I don’t actually mean buy the latest Fall and Spring fashions as soon as they land in stores. That would be paying full price and definitely isn’t budget-savvy. In order to get great deals on current trends, here’s a shopping calendar to live by:
January: Check and see if that perfect leather jacket or boots (i.e. investment pieces!) are available in your size since prices drop as much as 70% this month!
February/March: Look but don’t buy. Stores will be filled with all the Spring styles at this time, but they won’t go on sale until May. Think carefully about what you will need to complete your Spring/Summer wardrobe and keep an eye out for when it goes on sale. If you think what you want might be sold out before May, and it’s a piece that you know you’ll wear a lot, it might be worth the investment. Check online for coupon codes!
April: If you’re bored with what you’ve been wearing for the past few months, try adding a new bag, shoes, or other accessory. Accessories are usually easier on the budget and add fresh personality and interest to what you already have.
May: Right after Memorial Day, sales start at 40% off. Get in there soon, though, because the most popular sizes sell out quickly.
June/July: Not the best months for sales, but adding a tee, tank, or sundress isn’t usually pricey.
August: Spring styles are on clearance now, but stick to your list! A great deal on something you don’t need isn’t really a great deal. Also, this is a great time to buy a swimsuit for next year.
September/October: Fall styles arrive in stores at full price. Evaluate what you already have for fall/winter. Go shopping to look, decide what styles you like, then make your list for Fall.
November: Black Friday is the first day Fall styles are on sale. If you bookmarked the things you want earlier in the month, you should be able to grab what you need at a great price!
Make a commitment to yourself that from now on, you’ll only buy what you need and what you really like. It requires advance planning and soul searching, but the savings of time and money, as well as the confidence boost, is more than worth the effort. You have to get dressed, so make sure what you wear is truly you!
Aimee is a Christian Image Consultant with a passion to teach women how to reflect God’s love and beauty in their appearance. More “style coach” than “stylist” Aimee teaches women how to discover their individual style and build a wardrobe that is fun, comfortable, and entirely useful. She lives with her husband and two daughters on the Central Coast of California. Listen to our podcast conversation with here HERE.