Knowing the Difference Between Your Wardrobe Wants VS. Needs


I’ve already admitted on this blog that I’m a recovering shopaholic. And let me tell you, I have a real talent for justifying almost anything I want as a need. But as I’ve gotten older and wiser, I’ve also started to question whether any retail purchases are truly a legitimate need.

Yes, we need clothing. It’s one of only 3 essentials to survival along with food and shelter. But do we ever need the little black dress or the perfect suede pump that’s decidedly missing from our collection?

Maybe not.

That said, the goal isn’t to deprive yourself of the things you want. It’s simply to prioritize your needs first and more carefully consider the rest. Because it takes intentionality and discernment to curate a closet you love.

Let’s agree to shop smarter, shall we? To help you do this, I came up with 7 sequential questions to ask yourself so you can easily discern your wardrobe needs from your wants. Because, if you’re anything like me, sometimes that line gets fuzzy. I promise, if you take the extra minute to ask yourself these questions and answer them honestly, you will effectively eliminate impulse shopping and buyer’s remorse. You’ll have less, but better pieces in your wardrobe, the right outfits for every occasion on your calendar, and so much more confidence when it comes to shopping.

#1How do you spend your time?

If you want your wardrobe to work for you, it has to align with what’s on your calendar. I seriously want you to take a few minutes and write down what your typical week looks like. How many hours do you spend at work? Hanging out with friends? Taking care of your kids? Running errands? Working out? Sleeping? (Yes, sleeping!) Add up all the hours of your week and jot down a list of how you’re actually spending them.

#2 ─ What do you like to wear for each of those activities?

Now, you’re going to go back through that list and write down your ideal outfit or outfits for each of those activities. When you exercise, do you like to have a cute, matching sports bra and leggings? Do you prefer a roomy t-shirt and running shorts? Write it down! How do you like to dress at the office? What would you love to wear on your date nights? Refer back to your Pinterest style mood board for inspiration here if you need to!

This is your time to be really honest about how you want your ideal wardrobe to look and feel. Don’t stress about your current cash flow or your clothing size. This is an opportunity to dream and see yourself as the confident, well dressed, and stylish woman you want to be. And doing this homework now will help you make wiser decisions about what you buy down the road.

#3 ─ Is your closet an accurate reflection of this?

Time for a reality check, my love. On a scale from 1 to 10, how well does your current closet line up with your dream wardrobe?

This is not a time to feel defeated or get down on yourself. I’ve been all over the spectrum, too, and sometimes we’re going to find ourselves in seasons where our wardrobes don’t match up with what we truly want. This happens to ALL of us! The important thing is to recognize when your wardrobe isn’t aligned with how you want to dress for the occasions on your calendar. 

Knowledge is power. And once you know where you are, you can start to do something about it. That’s good news! So whether your closet is at a 1 or a 10, I want you to be aware of how it’s working or not working for you.

#4 ─ If not, what’s missing?

If your wardrobe is anything other than a perfect 10, we need to take note of what’s missing. Which pieces on list #2 – the ideal outfits you’d wear for each activity on your calendar – are missing from your closet? Do you want to wear luxurious silk pajamas to sleep in, but instead find yourself pulling old paint-splattered sweatshirts from college out of your bottom dresser drawer each night? No shame or shade, friend, I’m calling myself out on that one, too! Sometimes a girl just wants to feel comfy cozy.

Whatever you want to wear… Do you have it?

Do you have what you need for each of those weekly activities? If you find yourself with a closet full of clothes and nothing to wear, what’s missing for you? 

Make a list of all the items you wish you owned. Don’t judge yourself for it. Just brainstorm and write it all down!

#5 ─ Can you make do without this item?

Now, the next time you’re shopping and you pick up and item and you start asking yourself whether you really need it, ask yourself this question: Can you make do without it? Another way you could phrase the question is What else could you wear?

Think back to your answers for question number 4 here. What’s missing from your wardrobe? Does this item check one of those boxes? Or do you have something similar that could function in the same way? 

#6 ─ Would owning this item add value and ease or clutter?

If it’s not something you already own, refer back to your answers from question #2. Is it something you would realistically wear on a regular basis? If you legitimately need it for a special occasion, we could also argue that it’s a true need. Although, you could also rent something if it’s only for a one-time use. So consider that, too! 

But ask yourself and be honest, will owning this item add value to your wardrobe… Will it fill a need? Does it work with other items in your existing closet? How often will you be able to wear it? Does it align with how you want to look and feel?

Or is it going to take up space and add clutter? Remember, my goal for you is less, but better.

Does this fit the standard for curating a wardrobe you love? Are you settling? Are you only tempted because it sounds like a great deal? Is it what you wish you could wear but you’ll never really have an occasion to wear it? Think through this! Even if you have to put it on hold for a day or two and give yourself some space to process these questions. 

#7 ─ What’s the priority level for buying this?

Here’s the thing. If you’ve found an item on your wish list and it fits you like a glove, it’s in one of your best colors, it’s the exact style you’ve been dreaming about, and the price is in line with your budget, then please buy it. Even if there’s higher priority items on your wish list. Don’t let go of a gem when you find it. 

But if your funds are tight and you know there are other things on your wish list that you really need to prioritize over this, wait. I know it’s hard to walk away from a good thing that feels like a true need, but you will be so much happier when you go to get dressed in the morning and you have that higher priority piece you can wear every single day or multiple times a week instead. If it’s not an urgent need right now and you have to make a choice, use this question to keep yourself in check. 

What’s the real priority level for buying this? Do you need it today? Tomorrow? Is it something that could wait until next season? Maybe you could keep an eye out for it to go on sale? 

You will thank yourself for prioritizing the pieces you need most. It’ll make your life a million times easier. And even though it might not feel fun or glamorous, that is how you build a wardrobe you love and ensure you have exactly what you need when you go to get dressed.

The process of revamping your wardrobe doesn’t have to be daunting or full of rules.

You can play and experiment and enjoy curating your closet! I don’t want you to take your style too seriously. There’s nothing wrong with buying something you want and don’t really need. It’s perfectly fine to treat yourself! 

AND I also want you to make smart choices. I want you to feel confident about what you buy and appreciate and find value in what you own. I think you’ll find greater contentment and a lot less stress when you have fewer, but better pieces that make you feel absolutely amazing, that are functional, and effortless, and line up beautifully with your everyday life. This is the key to getting dressed with joy and ease!  I know you can do this and I’m here to support you every step of the way.


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