Six Things to Think About Before Your Next Shopping Trip

how to shop smarter

A couple days ago, I attempted to clear out my closet. It was more overwhelming than I expected and took longer than I planned (I’m still not done!).

As I struggled with what to keep, toss and give away, I realized why I had so many things in my closet but could hardly ever find anything to wear: bad shopping habits.

Today, this post isn’t just for my readers but it’s also for me–things I need to remember and pay attention to before I ever head out on a shopping trip or buy online again.

1. Choose classics over trends.

Fashion magazine open on table

It’s easy to go shopping, guided by your favorite style magazine or blog, and get hooked by pieces that are trendy. But remember that most of them will also look ridiculous and off-trend in a few months’ time. Think through your choices carefully before you spend big on clothing that’s “now.” By investing in more classic, timeless pieces, you’ll save money and be more satisfied with your wardrobe in the long run.

2. Anchor your wardrobe with high-quality pieces.

Things like trousers, blazers and little black dresses will be on heavy rotation as you compile your daily looks. So invest in high-quality pieces that can withstand frequent laundering and wearing and avoid fast-fashion versions that aren’t built to last.

3. Pay attention to laundry care labels


I never did this until recently but it’s oh so necessary: Read laundry care labels before you buy. That faux leather top? Hand-beaded dress? Pleated skirt? Although they look great on, chances are they’re tough to maintain. And no, don’t even think about following your instincts instead of the instructions (think: delicate cycle instead of dry clean only), and hoping for the best. You’ll ruin your most prized pieces that way.

Bottom line: If your budget or schedule doesn’t accommodate frequent trips to the cleaners, buy more machine- and hand-wash clothing you can launder easily at home.

4. Make sure you can wear it again.

Most of the clothing in your closet should be versatile and high-quality enough to be worn multiple times. One common rule is to make sure every piece you purchase can be worn with at least three other items in your closet, on separate occasions.

And please, for the sake of your closet and wallet, steer clear of this crazy “I’ve posted it on social media, so I can’t wear it again” rule. It’s yours. Wear it ’til whenever.

5. Don’t procrastinate on alterations.

colorful threads in transparent container
I’m petite, so oftentimes, the things I buy need to be altered to fit just right. What’s embarrassing is discovering more than a few items in my closet, unworn, because I never actually got around to having them altered. The same goes for on-sale items that are just missing a button or in need of a new zipper.

Here’s a tip: Don’t buy it if you know you won’t be making it to the tailor or dressmaker any time soon.

6. Skip fashion jewelry and accessories.

Fashion jewelry on table

Think about how many “gold” accessories you’ve had to throw out after wearing them a couple times, or how many purses started to come apart just when you were beginning to enjoy them. That’s a common issue with fashion accessories–typically trendy and sold cheaply.

The same rule that applies to clothing, is relevant to accessories. Invest in authentic, timeless pieces and seldom splurge on trendy, fashion versions. You’ll save more over time.

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