I’ve admitted on this podcast before that I used to struggle with impulse shopping in a big way. Those nearest and dearest to me might have even thrown around the term “shopaholic” from time to time, myself included. But I’ve made some radical shifts, even over the past several years.
Because what I’ve realized is that more isn’t really more. And in this episode, I’m about to share 3 habits that will help you STOP impulse shopping so you can start being more discerning and intentional about what you bring into your wardrobe.
As someone who strives to help other women show up and get dressed every day with confidence, I prefer to lead by example and with integrity. So I’ve had to do a lot of work on my own standards and self-control when it comes to what I bring into my closet. It’s from a very humble place that I want to share a few habits and ah-ha moments that have really transformed the way I look at what I wear and how I shop.
And as always, I invite you to take what works for you and leave the rest. You do NOT need to adopt every single one of these habits in order to see significant improvement in your buying patterns.
So without further ado, let’s dive into the first habit I highly recommend and that is when you find yourself in a wardrobe rut…
Put Yourself On an Immediate Shopping Freeze
I realize this sounds incredibly counterintuitive.
When you feel like you have a closet full of clothes with nothing to wear, you want to fill that void. And I get it. Impulse shopping is a great way to feel better… for a moment.
But buying more things you don’t need or that won’t serve you well is like pouring gasoline on the fire. The same buying habits that got you here won’t get you to a closet you love.
So instead, I invite you to try something different.
Whether it’s for a week or a month or an entire season. Put yourself on a freeze for however long it takes you to get to the root of the problem.
I want you to fill those gaps in your wardrobe, but I want you to do it in a way that’s smart and intentional. I want you to feel confident about the shopping decisions you’re making. And sometimes that means taking a step back to look at the bigger picture.
If this is a habit you need to adopt now, then it’s important for me to give you a few follow-up actions so you can end your freeze and get back on track!
❶ Take my free style quiz to hone in on the look you really want. I think most of what trips women up is that they have a hard time navigating trends and the desire to look current but still feel like themselves. And when you aren’t crystal clear on what your signature style is, it’s very easy to succumb to influencers and advertising or the well-meaning salesperson at your favorite boutique. So I want you to figure out what you actually like and how you want to show up in the world before you go buy more things. My quiz will give you a gigantic jumpstart! The link is in the show notes.
❷ Next, audit your closet to see what’s currently working and locate the gaps. You might be surprised to find pieces you forgot you have –you know, the ones buried at the back of your closet with the tags still on them! – or new outfit ideas that come from taking a closer look at what’s available to you.
In episode 16, I mentioned that I put myself on a shopping freeze for the entire summer of 2012. During that time of only being allowed to wear what was in my current closet, I came up with SO MANY new outfit combinations and it helped me see very quickly and clearly what was missing from my wardrobe. When I lifted my shopping ban in the fall, I knew exactly what I needed to purchase first to fill in those gaps.
Now, I have an awesome closet audit flowchart that walks you through a series of questions to ask as you’re evaluating the pieces in your wardrobe. It’ll help you make a lot of those decisions much faster and more confidently. So I encourage you to download that here.
❸ Start a running list of what you actually need. What are those pieces you wish you had on hand when you’re getting ready in the morning? Write them down so you can add on and reference them later.
❹ Prioritize your list and allocate your budget accordingly. Obviously, start with the most pressing needs first.
❺ THEN (and only then) start shopping with intention, rather than impulse.
I guarantee this one habit will make a massive difference in the way you feel about what you own.
If a shopping freeze feels too cold turkey for you, let’s talk about some other helpful habits to put in place.
Maybe you feel ready to shop. You know your personal style, you’re feeling good about what flatters your figure, you know which colors you like, you’re aware of the gaps in your wardrobe and you WANT to shop with intention.
Then, your next habit might be to…
Practice Delayed Gratification
My favorite book is John Mark Comer’s The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry. It is a book written by a pastor and he does talk about spiritual disciplines we can use to slow down our lives and model the way of Jesus. But even if you’re not a Christian, there is so much wisdom and value in reading this book. It profoundly shifted the way I look at my own closet and buying habits.
He actually talks quite a bit about shopping in the chapter on Simplicity. And one of my favorite sections includes his advice to Never Impulse Buy. He shares this…
“It’s amazing how much money we blow spur of the moment just because we see a new pair of shoes that we ‘have to have’. Even though we already have ten pairs of shoes. Even though we don’t have an outfit that even goes with them. Even though they were made unjustly with polyester that will live on FOREVER in a landfill.
It’s also amazing that when I exercise self-control and don’t buy an item, often the desire quickly passes.
As a general rule when you see an item you want, just sit on it for a while. The larger the item, the longer you should wait. Think it over. Give your rational mind time to catch up to your irrational flesh. Pray over it. Remember, God isn’t against stuff; he made the world for you to enjoy, and it’s beautiful. But if a purchase doesn’t have his blessing on it, do you really want it in your life?
You’ll be shocked at how good it feels to not buy something.”
And I just appreciate this so much, especially his line about giving our rational minds time to catch up with our irrational flesh. None of us are immune to desire. But getting into the habit of WAITING rather than immediately satisfying that desire will help you discern whether an item is truly something you need, is going to make your life easier or better in some way, or if it’s just another thing you’re going to throw out or feel dissatisfied with after the initial high of the purchase wears off.
You don’t have to wait for days or weeks either, unless you want to!
A practice I’ve probably mentioned on this podcast or in a blog article at one time or another is to ask a salesperson to hold any pieces you’re considering buying until the end of the day. If you’re not under a time crunch –and in that case, you might as well add NOT shopping when you’re in a hurry to this list of habits as well!– but if you have some time to either keep browsing or maybe go grab a meal and come back, giving yourself even just a short window of time and space to think things over can bring a lot of clarity before you return to make your final purchasing decisions. You’ll likely find your desire for some of those items has already faded by the time you get back. And if not, that’s a good indicator it might be a more worthwhile investment.
One of the things I love about Pinterest is that you can literally window shop right online, in your pajamas, and save all the drool worthy items you’d normally throw right into your shopping cart onto a Pinterest board instead. You can do the same thing I just mentioned when shopping in-stores online. Hold those items on your Pinterest board for a few hours or a couple of days and then come back and see what’s still calling out to you.
Or, if you add those items to your shopping cart, often the stores will send you a discount code as incentive to go back and complete your checkout. If this is too tempting to you, try saving the items to Pinterest instead!
Here’s the last habit I want to offer you.
Ask 4 Questions Before You Make Your Final Purchases
- When will I wear it?
- What will I wear it with?
- What am I hoping to experience through this purchase?
- What is the true cost of this item?
Remember what really matters, my friend.
Your worth is not defined in how many designer handbags you own or the number of shoes in your collection. In full transparency, I know much of my former shopaholic habits were made in an effort to prove myself, that I was successful enough, even stylish enough! I used to put crazy pressure on myself to validate that I was someone worthy of guiding other women in the art of getting dressed.
So while you may or may not be in this profession, if you find yourself frequently impulse shopping, it might be time to dig deeper and ask yourself why? Maybe you’ve never really thought about it before or even realized it was an issue for you. Maybe it’s been harmless. You just love clothing and having a lot of it! Maybe you’re trying to figure out what works for you and chasing trend after trend or trying store after store as a way to try and pinpoint your style or land on your dream closet.
Whatever the reason, the best thing you can do is start being mindful. Take a break from shopping, delay making those final purchases, run through a list of questions before you hand over or punch in your credit card info. I promise you, the fastest way to build a wardrobe you LOVE is to start shopping with intention.
If you don’t want to go through this process alone, you’re in the right place. I’ve supported many women over the years, including myself, in making these shifts and ENJOYING the process of designing a thoughtfully curated closet you love. I’d be so happy to help you do the same.
No matter which path you take, I know you can do this. And I’m here for you every step of the way!