Do you have a closet full of clothing but nothing to wear? Have you tried shopping for new clothes only to find items hanging in your closet unworn? Or maybe you’re holding on to things hoping you will wear them in the future. This is pretty common with all the closets I declutter and organize. Learning to shop smarter is key.
The very first closet I organized was my own. But it requires maintenance and good shopping habits to keep it that way.
All my clothing for every season fits in one closet. Yes, socks and underwear too. Getting ready is a breeze because my entire wardrobe is in one place. And when the seasons change, I can transition to the appropriate clothing easily. I no longer drag bins of clothing up and down the stairs to perform the seasonal swap. This saves me two weekends a year. And my guest bedroom closet is ready for guests instead of filled with extra clothing. But this was not always the case, I’ve come a long way and learned to shop smarter.
I used to be a shopper. I loved shopping trips to the Banana Republic with my personal shopper Mackenzie. She worked at the store and knew my style, size, and corporate office environment. I had a closet and two dressers stuffed full of more clothing than I could ever wear. A lot has changed in the last 15 years, especially my shopping habits.
Now, I’m notorious for trying on 15 items and buying just 1 or 2. It takes discipline and habits to keep your shopping in check. Check out my tips for shopping smarter.
1. Love It In The Dressing Room
Studies show that you will love a piece of clothing the most in the dressing room. Don’t be fooled into thinking you will like it more when you take it home. If I buy something, I must love it at the store. I say no far more than I say yes.
Stores set up dressing rooms with better lighting and even mirror tricks to encourage you to buy. Don’t skip the step of trying on clothes at the store. If you don’t have time, wait. Plan your shopping trips when you’re not rushed. Impulse buys rarely end well.
2. Needs vs Wants
What item does your wardrobe need? And what do you have a surplus of and should avoid buying? Is there a new purchase that would create several outfits? I need to replace my white t-shirt because it is a staple in my wardrobe. I also wear black and navy tank tops with many outfits, so I have duplicates of these.
3. Buy Only Your Favorite Colors
Have you ever bought a shirt in your favorite color? The shirt fit so nicely that you grabbed a second one in another color. And it now hangs in your closet unworn. Yep, me too! Guilty as charged!
Take a look at your closet and remove colors you dislike and rarely wear. Then, when you shop, avoid these colors. Stick with what you love, you’ll wear it more.
4. Shop Quality, Not Quantity
I own 2 high-quality pairs of jeans and have had them for almost 10 years. When you calculate the cost per wear, (price/times worn) it is pennies. I also own just 3 belts, 13 pairs of high-quality shoes, and 3 winter coats (casual, dressy, and ski).
When you shop with discipline, the sale price is no longer a factor. And your high-quality shirt will outlast 3 discount versions.
5. One-In, One-Out
Once you’ve simplified your closet and created the margin to store things easily, it is important to maintain it. At the end of each season, I remove items I have not worn and box them up for donation. The margin in my closet is what keeps it organized because it is easy to put things back where they belong.
When I shop, I think about what item I’m willing to get rid of before I buy something new. If you don’t want to get rid of anything, then you don’t need to shop!
6. Create A Staging Area
I re-wear my clothing because most of us are washing clothes too often. No, I’m not suggesting you walk around in dirty clothes but many items can be worn several times. This extends the life of your favorite items too.
I have a staging area in my closet where I fold items I plan to wear again. You can use a clothes tree or the bathroom counter for your staging area. Just keep it neat and make it a habit to wear these items a second or third time before washing them.
7. Wash and Dry with Care
Less clothing means less laundry. Yes, it’s true. Consider this, if you own 6 towels, you will only ever have to fold 6 towels. The same is true for clothing. With a smaller wardrobe, I take better care of my clothing. I prefer to hang dry many items to extend their life. Further proof is that my laundry pile is the smallest of everyone in my family.
8. Shopping Moratorium
While you’re working to declutter and simplify your closet, do not buy any new clothing for at least 90 days. During this time, consider if your desire to purchase is a need or a want. At the end of 3 months, reflect and keep going. I found 6 months very easy to do.
9. Advertising Works
We see 4,000 ads per day. Retailers are working on us through our social media feed, websites, and every app that will let them. Be aware of how advertising affects you. When I find myself responding to an advertisement by thinking about a purchase, I say to myself “Advertising Works”.
In these moments, it can be helpful to write down your buying list first and then wait a week to see if the ‘need’ has passed. Create a list on your phone, then wait a few days. Remember, sales and discounts are forms of advertising.
Getting organized is as much about habits as it is decluttering and donating. When you tackle your clothing closet, be sure to address your habits and shop smarter.
If you’d like to learn more clutter-free habits and how to get organized check out my 5 day series here.
About the Author: Amy Slenker-Smith is a living simply coach and wonderful writer at Simply Enough. She lives near Washington DC with her husband Steve, son Zack and Zeke the cat. You can also find her on Facebook.