How To Stop Wasting Money On Clothes


We’ve all done it.

We’ve been shopping for clothes, bought something we wanted to be right for us, knowing deep down that it wasn’t quite right, and have never worn it. Or maybe we’ve worn it a handful of times, but never felt completely comfortable in it.

We push it to the back, out of sight and, somewhat, out of mind. And so it sits there, taking up space. Cluttering our closest and creating a guilty reminder of our poor decision making.

At some point we’ll have a clear out, get rid of it, donate it to charity. But even as we do that, we feel bad. Bad that we never wore it. Bad that it was a waste of money. Bad that, despite our best intentions, we will probably make the same mistake again.


It doesn’t have to be this way

As a personal stylist, I see this all the time when I edit my client’s wardrobes. I’ve been guilty of it myself. No one is immune.

Over time, I have developed and tested three simple rules that ensure that my clients and I never waste money on clothes again.


1. If you find a wardrobe essential that you love with unspeakable passion, then buy it

Think: an amazing pair of jeans, the perfect t shirt, the perfect cashmere jumper, the perfect leather jacket, the perfect boots, the perfect winter coat.

If you find a wardrobe essential that you will wear as a go-to item most of the time, that fits you perfectly, then even if you have to push the boat out on your budget (please don’t go into debt though), it will usually be an excellent investment.

Why is it worth spending the money?

Typically the sorts of items that scream at your gut instinct in this way come with a higher price tag than you are used to paying.

It’s hard to fall that deeply, genuinely in love with a pair of shoes that are on sale for $20. (More on that in a moment…)

That means these garments are also, typically, higher quality than you are used to wearing.

But if you invest in a high quality, staple item for your wardrobe, not only will you look and feel amazing every time you wear it, you will wear it so many times that the ‘cost per wear’ will end up being significantly lower than if you’d bought a cheaper version that doesn’t give you the same feeling, and that wears out sooner.

To give you an example, I applied this principle to a Balenciaga leather jacket. I bought it in 2010. I saved up for a year and it cost $2000, but I have worn it 100+ times per year for 7 years (700+ wears equating to approximately $2.85 per wear) and I have never looked twice at another leather jacket as it is the perfect one for me.

Every time I put it on, even 7 years later, I feel so proud to be wearing it. It’s the first thing I would save if my house were on fire. It’s not going to wear out anytime soon, but should something happen to it, I would want another one exactly the same. I have it insured. I love it that much.

However, I’d made the mistake of wasting money on three other, inferior leather jackets between 2008–2010. None of them were quite right. In the back of my mind I always wanted the Balenciaga one.

I spent $1400 on those three other jackets and wore each of them no more than 10 times. That’s $46 per wear and a very bad use of my budget. I could have saved $1400 and had three more years of wear from the Balenciaga one if only I’d bought it at the beginning.

Lesson learned.


2. Don’t buy it on sale if you wouldn’t pay full price

Sales are psychological trickery. It can seem thrilling to get a bargain. But it’s only a bargain if you get your money’s worth, and if you get that joyful feeling every time you wear it.

Don’t buy something just because it’s cheap. Buy it because you deeply and genuinely love it, because it fits you perfectly, because the fabric is amazing, because you look forward to putting it on, and because of how it makes you feel every time you wear it.


3. Remember, the best stuff is never on sale

Shortest horror story ever: Sold out.

If there is something you really need for your wardrobe, that you will wear all the time, then get the best one you can.

By all means, try to get it on sale. But if you wait for a sale, you should be prepared to miss out.

And if you paid full price for it but find it later on sale, who cares? It’s probably not in your size, and so long as you chose well and got your money’s worth it doesn’t matter.

What’s worse — the perfect garment at full price, or the perfect garment sold out?

Think about how much money you’ve spent on clothes, shoes and accessories in the past two or three years. How much of it have you had your money’s worth from? How much joy has each garment brought you?


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