3 Essential Shopping Strategies It Took Me 37 Years to Learn


I’ll admit that for many years of my life, I was a shopaholic. 

I think my husband’s default mode is to still worry about my spending from time to time. I know he trusts me, but I don’t think he’s fully let go of the fear that I’m going to make a really irresponsible investment. Keep in mind, we’ve been together for over 20 years, which is absolutely crazy to think about! And even though this isn’t a problem anymore, I trained him in the start of our relationship that he’s the saver and I’m the spender. 

That’s still true, BUT I’ve come a long way in learning to be more discerning about where my earnings go. My priorities are so different now. And it took what feels like a lifetime, but after 37 years, I’ve finally learned 3 essential shopping strategies that changed everything about how and what I buy. In today’s episode, I’m revealing them all.

Keep in mind cost-per-wear

A faux fur jacket on sale for $25 that you might reach for on two formal occasions in the winter will only warrant you $12.50 per wear.  A full-priced, but practical peacoat for $200 you’ll slip on four times a week throughout three months of winter will equal as little as $4 per wear. Which sounds like the better investment now?

I’ve done countless closet audits where my clients and I discovered clothes in the back of their closets with the tags still on them. And a lot of times, they bought those pieces just because they were such a good deal. I know a good sale can feel too good to pass up. But even if you find a cute top on clearance for $10… If it’s not an item you LOVE or you know you’re probably never going to wear, it’s still $10 wasted, not however many dollars saved.

The more use you can get out of an item, the better the investment. When you actually do the math like this, your purchasing decisions become kind of a no-brainer! 

Always shop for the current gaps in your wardrobe first

It takes discipline not to buy ALL the pretty things, but it’s so worth it when you walk away with what you actually need to get dressed everyday with ease.

Believe me, I can justify almost any purchase. What can I say? It’s a gift. Plus, it’s not called “retail therapy” for nothing.  Buying what you want is usually WAY more fun than getting what you need. But if you’re tired of having a closet full of clothes with nothing to wear, it’s time to regroup and regain focus on what will make your closet more complete.

So I love having a predetermined list to reflect on as I’m adding things to my cart. Or if you’re more of an in-person shopper, map out which stores you actually need to stop in first. If you know a new suit for the office is the first priority on your shopping list, then there’s really no reason to step foot inside Sephora, my friend. Save yourself the temptation and eliminate any non-essential stops until you have the extra cash to spend. I encourage my clients to reward themselves with some fun finds as soon as they’ve crossed off everything they need to fill in the gaps.

Statistics speak volumes about this topic. In fact, the average woman spends $1,800 — $4,800 per year on clothing and wears less than 50% of what she owns.

(This is a generous estimate, by the way. Studies show that most Americans only wear about 18% of the items in their closets.)

So even if you’re spending way less than the average woman… let’s say $1,000 for easy math… and wearing a high percentage of your clothes… maybe a solid 50%… that means you’re likely still wasting AT LEAST $500 every single year on items you don’t wear, let alone love.
You’ll thank yourself when you go to get dressed in the morning and you actually have everything you need instead of a closet full of clothes with nothing to wear.

You do not need to have it all

This is a reminder for me, too. It’s okay to make choices. Our culture makes delayed gratification feel insanely hard. 

I feel like on an intellectual level, we all know our worth isn’t defined by what we own. But it’s so easy to get swept up in feelings of lack and inferiority, especially when we’re flooded with highlight reels of other people’s lives on social media or even just watching commercials. My husband, Neil, is a real estate appraiser so he’s usually in and out of a dozen homes on an average week. And we laugh all the time at how the homes in almost any commercial or tv show are these ridiculously huge, immaculately furnished, dream houses. It’s not realistic AT ALL! But when that’s all we see, it starts to feel like everyone else has something we don’t, doesn’t it?

Especially in my younger years, when I wasn’t as comfortable in my skin, I convinced myself… If I just had that designer bag everyone else is carrying around, I’ll finally feel like I’ve made it. Or I want so desperately to be in a position where I can buy whatever I want, whenever I want it. That was one of my actual goals as a young adult.    

But you know what? No matter how many things I coveted until they finally came home with me, whether an impulse buy or something I saved up a while for, those clothes and accessories never filled that void for long. The beautiful, shiny new thing I bought eventually looked dull and dated, just like everything else in my closet. 

So my strategy for shopping is 180 degrees different now. And again, I’m so glad I learned these lessons the hard way, because now I can pass these principles on to the women I work with.

Building a well-curated closet takes time and effort.

The way you get there is by investing in items you’ll actually wear and that make you feel your best. It’s that simple.

But so often, women have no idea where to start. I hear this ALL THE TIME. 

We think buying what we see everyone else wearing or scooping up a bunch of new items on sale just to fill an immediate void is going to give us long term satisfaction when we go to get dressed.

And I just want you to be aware that QUANTITY doesn’t equal QUALITY.

I’d rather you have half the number of items in your wardrobe and actually LOVE how you look and feel in every single one of them.

I have much higher standards for what makes it into my closet now. And a lot of that’s come from adopting these 3 shopping strategies. Again, to recap:

  • Keep in mind cost-per-wear and remember, he more use you can get out of an item, the better the investment.
  • Always shop for any current gaps in your wardrobe first. This will make getting dressed a million times easier!
  • And finally, you do not need to have it all. Your worth is based on so much more than your wardrobe and quality beats quantity EVERY time.

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