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How to avoid buying clothes you won't wear

With today's high street shouting from every shelf and rail for our attention (and credit cards), it's easy to get seduced. Here are some of my tips on how to shop wisely for clothes.

A groaning wardrobe with the majority of it unworn is all too common and can leave you in despair. This is usually as a result of too many spur of the moment, impulse buys.

Why do women do it? 'It was on sale,' is a popular one. Or 'loved the colour'; 'a friend said it suited me' (even though you had your doubts); it was a bit snug/big but give it three months and it will fit perfectly. Frankly, all the wrong reasons to reach for your purse.

So how do you avoid those shopping pitfalls?

1. Make a list of what you want to buy in advance and try not to deviate.

Have a clear plan and don’t allow yourself to be distracted. If you focus on what you want to get, it will help you make informed decisions before you start spending.

2. Dress for your body shape rather than trends.

I bang on about this all the time. Just because something is on trend, doesn’t mean it suits you. Buy what flatters your shape and colouring (and ignore the label.) Peacock blue might be all the rage but if it isn’t your colour, walk away. 

3. Does it fit?

Be honest. There is no point in wasting money on something you can’t wear right away. Work with what you are now not what you might be 4 months down the road. If you feel uncomfortable or self conscious, then it's not for you.

4. Wear the right underwear.

My clients know the importance of good underwear. It is the starting point of any self-respecting wardrobe. Think about how a silk dress you are trying on would look over a lumpy, ill-fitting bra. Seamless knickers and a smooth, nude bra is all you need for clothes to glide over your body. 

5. Do you have something similar in your wardrobe?

A common link most of the women I work with have is repeat pieces in their wardrobes. It’s okay to double up for day-to-day staples but keeping 18 empire dresses or 24 pairs of cord trousers won’t give you the streamlined wardrobe you want. The clothes just becomes noise. So ask yourself, do I really need it?

6. Does it still have the label on?

Why, oh why would you leave those mistakes hanging in your wardrobe with the labels still attached? Most shops give you up to a month to return something (as long as you have kept the receipt). If it doesn’t work (and deep down you know whether it does or not pretty quickly), take it back and recover your costs or give it to someone else. Failing that, if you have missed the return date and it was expensive, try selling online or with a second hand designer boutique. 

7. Think about the maintenance.

We all have that special event item in our wardrobe that comes out once a year. But if you are buying something for regular wear, think about your lifestyle and the day-to-day practicalities. Don’t purchase something that needs a lot of maintenance like hand washing or specialist cleaning if time or budget is an issue, or it will never see the light of day. 

8. Don’t get seduced by the sales.

While sales have their place (and yes, it is so exciting when you find that gem going for a song), they can be dangerous territory. This is when you are most likely to purchase mistakes. Don’t feel forced into making a rash decision because if you’re not going to wear it, then you’ve wasted your money. Better to have one fabulous white shirt, than six average ones.

Finally, ask yourself these three questions. Do I love it? Do I need it? And most importantly, will I wear it? If the answer is yes to all of them, then feel free to proceed to check out.

If shopping for new clothes feels overwhelming or you just need a helping hand, give me a call. I would love to help.

Emma Davison
 

Emma Davison is a style and wardrobe consultant helping advise women and men on how to get the best from their clothes. If you are struggling with any aspect of your wardrobe and feel like you could do with some help, do get in touch with her. She would love to hear from you.

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