How to stop buying clothes you never wear

A couple of years ago, I had a Great Closet Clean-Out. My clothing racks and drawers were overflowing at the time, and some of it still had price tags. Hoping to accomplish that European knack for owning less and looking better, I donated, consigned, and gave away about 75 percent of my wardrobe. Today it's 100 times more functional.

But before we talk about the state of my closet today, here's an idea of where I started…

Three Closets, No Space

When I graduated from college, my first apartment came with three closets — two in the master bath, and one in the hallway. I easily filled them all.

Part the problem was that I held onto things I didn't wear or like all that much — you know, just in case. Another part of the problem was that I would buy new clothes without much consideration. For instance, I owned five winter coats, and I live in Texas.

So, far too often, things were worn once, then eventually made their way to the no man's land that was the back of my closet. Or worse, I never wore them at all. The price tags were still attached, making it even harder for me to part with them because there was a reminder of how much money I wasted hanging from the label.

The crazy thing is that, even though I owned plenty of clothes, I somehow lacked the basic foundation for a work wardrobe.

The Closet Clean-Out

The wasted money and the jammed closets finally got to be too much. Maybe it was the fact that I was learning about personal finance or the fact that I was reading about minimalism and the ease of a small wardrobe, but I'd had enough.

I decided to do a total closet cleanout. I donated, consigned, and gave away about 75 percent of my wardrobe.

It wasn't easy. I felt a lot of guilt for wasting that money in the first place. But by the time I was done, it was like a weight had been lifted. There was space in my closet, room to breathe. I also could see what I really needed in my wardrobe, and as I started to fill those holes, it became easier to get dressed in the morning. And I was able to shop with a list, knowing that what was on that list would get a lot of use.

One Small Closet, Plenty of Space

That's the Cliff's Notes version of the story, but the change wasn't as instantaneous as it may seem.

Even after cleaning out my closet, I'd still buy things that weren't really my style. Or I'd buy things that fit well enough, then never wear them. Sometimes I'd return those purchases, other times I fell into old habits and kept them around. After doing a few more minor closet cleanouts, though, there was less and less waste.

Then my husband and I bought a house. The master bedroom has two small closets — a his and a hers. My brother-in-law jokingly asked if my husband would really get his own closet or if I would claim some of his space, and I just smiled. I was actually excited about the size of my closet — it was the perfect size for my small, well-curated wardrobe.

These are the best tips I picked up while going through the process, gleaned from fashion gurus, designers, and style bloggers. These tips are applicable to women and men, whether you're a high-power attorney or a stay-at-home parent.

1. Make Four Piles

The Great Closet Clean-Out is your first step. Tim “Make It Work” Gunn, fashion guru and author of A Guide to Quality, Taste and Style, advises you to divide your clothes into four piles: throw out, give away, repair, and soul-stirring. Get rid of clothes in the first two piles and take the clothing in the repair pile to a tailor.

It would be great if you could do it all at once, but letting go of the goofy tie you wore to graduation or the bubble-gum pink prom dress that you'll never wear again takes time. Try to let go of personal attachments.

2. Think “Meat and Potatoes”

70 percent of the clothes you own should be meat and potatoes. 30 percent should be icing and fluff — that's colour, pattern, shine, accessories. Too many women get the proportions the other way round, then can't figure out why they can't get dressed. — Michael Kors, Times Online

Take a look at what you have left after purging. Make a list of any gaps in your wardrobe to keep you on track when you're shopping. Jessica Schroeder, the fashion blogger behind What I Wore, says:

I like to take stock of what I have in my closet and think of pieces that can extend the lives of those clothes already hanging out in my wardrobe. Maybe its a new belt or scarf or tie — think of small ways to get maximum use out of what you already have.

If you don't know how to identify gaps, look to wardrobe essential lists and see what you might be missing. I'm not usually impressed with most “must-have” lists, but Allie at Wardrobe Oxygen has great advice for both women and men.

3. Dress for the Life You Live Right Now

The life you live right now includes factors like lifestyle and even the climate where you live.

For instance, an attorney in her 20s has very different clothing needs than a 35-year-old stay-at-home dad. Also, “it's important for the largest part of your wardrobe and seasonal fashion budget to reflect the dominant seasons where you live,” writes style consultant Angie Cox of You Look Fab.

If you buy the majority of your clothes for a fantasy version of your life instead of the reality, you'll end up owning a lot of clothes and having nothing to wear.

4. Identify Your Dominant Season

You Look Fab also gets the credit for this tip, which has helped this Texan curb her winter coat habit. Blog author and style consultant Angie writes, “It's important for the largest part of your wardrobe and seasonal fashion budget to reflect the dominant seasons where you live.”

In other words, if you live in Iowa, you won't get much wear from a collection of flip-flops. Some people live in places with four seasons, and in that case, it's best to buy equally for the seasons.

Angie notes one exception. If you routinely travel to a climate different from your hometown, you'll need to consider that when allocating your clothing budget.

5. Consider Your Lifestyle

Your lifestyle dictates your clothing needs. Maybe you are a busy mom, are pregnant, or work from home. Age makes a difference, too. Someone in their 30s has different needs than someone in their 50s. If you buy the majority of your clothes for a fantasy version of your life, instead of the reality, you'll end up with a lot of clothes to store and nothing to wear.

Jessica says, “When shopping, I'm always thinking, ‘Would I wear this today? Does it work with the pieces already in my closet?' If I can immediately scream ‘yes!' to both questions, it's a go.”

Also, reconsider items that only work for very specific occasions. The more pieces you own that can be dressed up and down, the more wear they'll get.

6. Identify Your Personal Style

If you like soft fabrics and loose cuts, don't get suckered by a shiny J. Crew display of wool turtleneck sweaters that would itch and bind. Instead, ask yourself if it fits your personality. Know what styles make you feel good. Look to your soul-stirring pile from tip #1 to identify the shapes and colors you gravitate to the most.

Remember that price doesn't dictate style. If the perfect pants in the perfect color are $30, they are a better buy than the trendy, designer pants that cost $200 and work with nothing else in your closet. The bracelet I get complimented on the most was a trinket my mom bought me from Target. Jessica mixes thrifted clothes with vintage with self-sewn with Payless — and it works.

On the other hand, don't be swayed by low prices. A piece that sort of fits but is on the clearance rack is not a deal, no matter what the price tag says.

Finally, if you buy an item and decide you don't like it once you're home and standing in front of your own mirror, return it as soon as possible.

7. Figure Out Your “Uniform”

This is a new tip I've picked up — the idea of a personal uniform.

“If your wardrobe contains sequins, camouflage canvas, distressed denim, glazed leather, monkey fur, plaid kilts, and gold lamé cocktail dresses it may be fun to look at, but it's not as fun to dress for the every day,” says Gary. “Having a signature style is easier on the wallet, easier on the soul when getting dressed each day, and better for your personal style.”

That doesn't mean that you have to wear the same thing every day. It just means figuring out what looks good on you and what you like to wear — the items that are always in the wash or at the dry cleaner's are a good place to start.

Since I work from home now, my uniform has become straight leg jeans, a nice, drapey tee with a scoop neck, a long necklace, and flats or sandals. When I buy those things, I know they won't sit in my closet unworn.

8. Repeat After Me: Fit and Fabric

Before my Great Closet Clean-Out, I owned 15 pairs of jeans. I wore three pairs. Those three were high-quality denim and fit fantastically. The others were made of stiff fabric and didn't do my figure any favors. Avoid buying 12 pairs of blah jeans by keeping in mind fit and fabric:

For fit, clothes should never gape, pull, or fit the person you want to be 10 pounds from now. Either don't buy those things or, if a tailor or seamstress can solve the problem, have them altered.

As for fabric, you really don't have to be an expert. Does it feel good and drape nicely, or does it feel cheap, like the sort of thing that will fall apart in the washing machine after one wear?

Most alterations are fairly reasonable in price, or maybe you're lucky enough to have a friend or family member who sews. (Hi, Mom!)

9. Don't Buy Something Only Because It Fits.

What the —? Didn't I just say it's all about fit? Well, yes. But just because something fits doesn't mean you should buy it. Only buy items that make you feel like a million bucks. That's the best way to ensure you'll actually wear what is in your closet.

If it doesn't make your heart sing, it'll probably never see the light of day. Even a white t-shirt has the potential to make you feel good when you put it on. It's much better to wear something more often and look and feel great than to own a ton of so-so clothes that you only sort of like.

10. Watch Out for High Prices (and Low Ones, Too!)

Sometimes it makes sense to pay more for quality. However, if you find a great pair of pants for $30, they are a better buy than the designer pants that cost $200 and fit you kinda funny. So as long as something is within your budget, price should be a secondary concern.

Also, beware of the clearance rack. I've taken many things home with me because they were a good deal, and then I barely wore them. Today, I ignore the discount and only buy something if I absolutely love it the minute I put it on. It has to feel great and look great and work in my existing wardrobe, or else it doesn't come home with me.

11. You Can Always Return It

If you get home and decide you don't like something after all, return it as soon as possible. I like to shop online, so I've become very disciplined about returning items I don't want within a week, long before the return policy expires.

And you have to do what works for you, but I don't buy anything on final sale anymore. That bit me in the bank account twice, and after that I decided that if there's not a return policy, I'm not buying it.

12. Be a Little Ruthless

Another source of extra stuff in my closet used to be gifts, like a sweater given to me by a loved one.

This situation is hard because I feel like a jerk for getting rid of their gift. On the other hand, I don't want to hang onto something that I know I'll never wear.

So, I donate it. I still feel a little bit bad about it, and I worry about some scenario where they'll ask me about it later, like, “Oh, show so-and-so that necklace I bought you last Christmas!”

But, I've had to learn to be a little ruthless. And besides, the gift always goes to a good cause, and hopefully to a closet where it'll actually get worn!

What about you? Do you have clothes you never wear? Or, if your wardrobe is streamlined, are there other tips you've used? How do you pursue fashion on a budget? Do you have any tips for how to only buy stuff you'll really wear?

J.D.'s note: I'm not exactly a fashion maven, but I've always had a terrible habit of buying clothes I never wear. When we moved from our old house in 2004, I had stacks of shirts I had purchased but never taken from the packaging. I thought they were Good Deals. My current year-long clothing purge is helping me to see that what I need is not new clothes, but far fewer clothes; I wear only a small fraction of my wardrobe…and keep more of my money in my high interest savings account. Photo by Jessica Schroeder of What I Wore.

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Makahui
Makahui
10 years ago

I do agree that we women buy so many pieces of clothing that we will never wear.
I stopped buying clothes and shoes for a year while I was putting my finances in order, during that same period of time I purged my closet several times. I learned that I did not need to buy new clothes every season , and that I could mix and match much better having less than more.

Great post!

KC
KC
10 years ago

I really like the comment on quality clothing. I buy classic clothes and they last for years and are in style for years – although I’m never trendy, which is fine with me. But when I go buy clothes (and its rare) I head to some place like Talbots or Ann Taylor cause I know I can get the quality and style I like. I shop in department stores, but I’m careful of the quality and fit I buy. I spend a little more at these stores, but ultimately I buy less because these clothes last. I can honestly say… Read more »

Nany
Nany
8 years ago
Reply to  KC

I would agree with you except Talbots has gone to hell in a hand basket. They went from having classic pieces that could be worn forever (my mom had a pair of Talbots jeans that were 20+ years old and bunch of shirts that are easily 5+) to stuff that doesn’t last the season. The cuts and colors are now awful and for some reason they decided to go super trendy. BRING BACK THE OLD TALBOTS!!!

Kate
Kate
10 years ago

When cleaning out your wardrobe, it’s very handy to have an honest friend on hand. I get strange emotional connections to items which somehow allow me to overlook very basic flaws in clothing – like it’s got armpit stains or there’s a hole or it just doesn’t fit well. Choose wisely though – somebody who will be honest but will be careful of your feelings.

Jason Philo
Jason Philo
10 years ago

About getting rid of the clothes you have an emotional attachment to… maybe I read it on this site, but I remember a suggestion to take a photo of it. It’s not the clothes you’re in love with, but the memory they invoke.

Tyler Tervooren
Tyler Tervooren
10 years ago

I went through a clothing purge a few weeks ago and I can’t tell you how freeing it is. For years I was digging through a huge pile of clothes to find the few items that I end up wearing over and over again.

For me, it was just another attachment to stuff that prevented me from taking back my closet long ago. I was sure that if I kept all those things I never wore I would eventually find a use for them. Nope!

They’ll be a lot more useful to someone else at Goodwill.

EscapeVelocity
EscapeVelocity
10 years ago

One thing I watch out for is stuff that requires dry cleaning or has washing instructions that will prevent you from tossing it in with a load of the stuff you already own (my late batchelor friend Mark had the simple rule of never buying anything red). Especially in summer garments (linen dresses, I’m talking about you). You can get away with having a wool blazer dry-cleaned once a year, if you take it off before you eat, but where I live, you can’t wear stuff more than once in the summer without cleaning it, and that gets really expensive.… Read more »

Rox
Rox
10 years ago

Goodwill is a great place to get clothes if you know what you are doing (thank you Auntie Betty). My local store is supplied by the very rich ladies in town and I affectionately call it Talbot’s Too.

Buy classic designs in natural fibers. And when you buy button up anything from anywhere take a minute to drop some clear nail polish on the button threads and those buttons will stay on forever.

Jourdan
Jourdan
8 years ago
Reply to  Rox

Good idea about how to keep the buttons on with the nail polish. Thanks for the tip!:-)

Foxie || CarsxGirl
Foxie || CarsxGirl
10 years ago

I’m working on this… Starting to try and build a professional wardrobe before I need it. I have pretty much nothing, so I’m starting from college clothes’ scratch. I’m working on good fit, quality and classic cuts/fabrics. Hopefully, by starting before I need it, I can build a good closet for not a ton of money.

Gwen
Gwen
10 years ago

Great advice on fit and only buying things that make you feel like a million bucks! I have to remind myself of that fact when I find something that’s ho-hum but really affordable.
My girlfriends and I host Clothing Swaps twice a year (Spring and Fall) where we band together to trade clothing mistakes or items that no longer fit. All the leftovers are donated to the hostess’s charity of choice.

Andrea
Andrea
10 years ago

I use thrift stores a lot(because you can buy Nordstrom, Talbots, Dana Buchman at my thrift stores-like Rox above- the rich ladies don’t wear their stuff very long),I buy mostly washable clothing(and I handwash some things), and I recycle. I give away my clothing or some things become cleaning cloths. You can even turn old fabric into rugs if you knit or crochet or into other pieces of clothing(I used to re-fashion but not anymore) I just read a short fashion piece in the Sunday NY Times- there is a guy who makes new jeans look old by tearing, fading… Read more »

Suzanne
Suzanne
10 years ago

Tim Gunn’s 10 Essential Items Every Woman Needs (these should be in neutral colors) – Basic black dress (I choose blue) – Trench coat – Classic dress pants – Classic white shirt – Skirt – Blazer – Day dress – Cashmere sweater – Jeans – A comfortable alternative to a sweatsuit It really works well to have these items as the basis (they are classics that can be purchased anywhere). Once you have one of each of these, you’d be surprised how little else you need to complete your everyday look. I am trying to go through my wardrobe twice… Read more »

kaitlyn
kaitlyn
10 years ago

Clothes are my weakness, insofar as, I have no sense of style, so I just don’t buy anything. Almost everything I own is stained, torn, or generally shouldn’t be seen by the general public. Happily, I work in a lab, so everyone else wears stained and torn clothes.

When I do buy clothes, it is generally because my sisters dragged me out shopping and dictated what to buy.

Four Pillars
Four Pillars
10 years ago

Good post. Now I’d like to see a follow-up post on how to deal with a MOUNTAIN of baby clothes. 🙂

JerryB
JerryB
10 years ago

My personal fashion style is Maui Casual.
Work provides me with my uniform, I own two suits (wedding and funeral) and four dress shirts. Beyond that it’s shorts, blue jeans and a Hawaii shirt.

Kevin M
Kevin M
10 years ago

So when someone says “buy quality clothing” how long do you expect that to last? I usually buy shirts & khakis for work at places like Gap, Banana Republic, Eddie Bauer, etc and get a good 5-7 years out of them. At $20-30 a pop, I think that’s good value. Does going up to a price point of $50-75 really get me that much more life?

Robert
Robert
10 years ago

I have a huge problem with this myself. I buy things that either don’t fit or don’t look great after a month or so, then I’m stuck with it. I usually donate it to a thrift store, but it’s still a huge drain on my bank account!

April
April
10 years ago

@Kate–Great tip!

@Kevin–It’s sort of up to the individual to decide what’s worth it. I think paying $20-$30 for an item that you wear for seven years is a pretty good buy. I doubt that going to $50-$75 khakis will get you that much more life out of your clothes.

However, buying a cheaply-made sweater for $15 that loses its shape and pills up after one wearing is $15 down the drain, in my opinion. If you paid a little more, maybe found something on sale, you could find a garmet that will last much longer.

Todd @ Personal Finance Playbook
Todd @ Personal Finance Playbook
10 years ago

I typically don’t buy high quality dress shirts or suits. I’m an attorney, and it matters how I look coming into the office b/c you sometimes have to deal with clients. With that being said, I buy my suits at Men’s Wearhouse, ties at Marshall’s and dress shirts at Kohl’s. The shirts (wrinkle free) run a little over $20 apiece and last about 10 drycleanings (before the collar begins to fray with color). The suits are in the $250-$400 range (usually wait and try to hit the sales). The ties are usually $10 or less if I’m buying them. My… Read more »

Amanda
Amanda
10 months ago

Try Nordstrom Men’s Shop dress shirts. If washed cold and hung to dry they last years.

Linear Girl
Linear Girl
10 years ago

Good advice – I’m trying to upgrade from a Kaitlyn (#12) style to something more presentable. My sister has promised to drag me to the thrift stores in her metropolitan area to help out.

As for baby clothes, the same sister is part of a group that just passes the kids’ clothes from one to another. When they were babies, she always knew someone who knew someone who had kids in the size available. Between grandparents, doting aunts, and the pass-around clothes I don’t think she spent anything on baby clothes and neither did many of her friends.

CB
CB
10 years ago

@Kevin, the problem I have with those places is that it seems to be hit or miss on quality. Sometimes the clothes, like you say, lasts forever. Sometimes it doesn’t make it a year. And I haven’t figured out the trick if there is one. (Also, at least two, if not all three, are owned by the same parent company. So you aren’t buying anything different at one store or the other you’re just paying for a different brand name on the label. Not that there’s anything inherently wrong with that. I just though you should know that the khakis… Read more »

Lesley
Lesley
10 years ago

I like to identify fundamentals in my wardrobe and basic quantities, and fill in the gaps as I can. This helps me to shop in a focused way, not just looking around for “something nice”. For example, this fall’s target was a matching gray pencil skirt and jacket. I set myself a budget of $300 and went to every store that carries that type of clothing at that price point, and after a day’s shopping, came out with exactly what I wanted and no more.

Alexandra
Alexandra
10 years ago

#18 – Todd @ Personal Finance Playbook – I would consider paying more for dress shirts that don’t fall apart after only ten wears. My husband only buys his when they go on sale, but they have never frayed, so the money goes a lot further. He still has some good quality shirts he bought about seven years ago.

Kevin M
Kevin M
10 years ago

@CB – actually, the fit of khakis at Gap and BR (the 2 owned by the same parent) are completely different – I’ve started cycling out my Gap khakis (fraying at the leg cuff anyway) and going to BR more often. The cost is a tad higher, but worth it for me considering the lifespan.

I usually shop at their outlet stores, but I’ve always had good luck with both Gap & BR. Now, Old Navy (also under the Gap/BR umbrella) is definitely lesser quality and I rarely shop there.

Jessie
Jessie
10 years ago

I can go weeks spill-free, but when I’m eating something that will stain, sure enough it ends up on my shirt. So in the fall I stock up on end of summer sale knit tops and tank tops (which I use as camis) that I wear year round paired with cardigans, blazers, etc for work. They cost a max of $5 each, and I get a great pop of color in my wardrobe. Nice button down shirts I only get in dark colors, and I’ll often use those in the summer and fall with a tank or tee instead of… Read more »

Jessica
Jessica
10 years ago

@FourPillars either hand down the baby clothes to friends with little ones, save them if you are planning one an additional little one, or donate them to the charity of your choice. I used alot of these ideas myself this weekend as I did my twice annual closet cleanout. I think an additional rule needs to be added though if you are losing weight, toss out the clothes that you have shrunk out of. I realized I was holding on to lots of clothes that were too big and I dont want to give myself the option of gaining the… Read more »

Some Like it Vintage.com
Some Like it Vintage.com
10 years ago

Fantastic tips. I try to purge every season. If I haven’t worn something in a year, away it goes. Great write up!

Craig
Craig
10 years ago

I am not much of a shopper so when I do shop, I tend to always wear those clothes.

Emmy
Emmy
10 years ago

Great post, April! I’ll add to the discussion on cheap vs. quality that you can often extend the life of a cheap garment by handwashing it and either drying flat or hanging up. My sister does this all the time with those flimsy Forever 21 tops (I’m much lazier and tend to buy sweet, washable t-shirts), though I’m not sure there’s an equivalent for guys. But I think with any piece it’s important to treat it with care so it will last longer. I will say the clothes I get the most mileage out of are the ones that I… Read more »

Geri
Geri
10 years ago

In addition to considering your “dominant season” geographically, you might also have to think about the dominant seasons in your profession. I’m in education, so the schedule of the academic year dictates that I need more dressy winter clothes than summer clothes.

Rachel
Rachel
10 years ago

The first time I really thought about cleaning out my wardrobe was right after a trip to Guatemala. I met many incredible Mayan women there, and I soon found out that most of them only owned two outfits. They would wear one and wash the other when it was dirty. That experience made me so aware of the excess sitting in my closet at home. Now, I am lucky enough to have only two main modes of dressing: casual (I have a casual workplace, too!) and for dancing (I dance Argentine Tango several times a week). At one point, I… Read more »

Amy H.
Amy H.
10 years ago

April, this was a terrific post! Thank you so much. I’m really happy to have been introduced to Wardrobe Oxygen (and her companion blog) as well.

elisabeth
elisabeth
10 years ago

This is an inspiring post — I do hope to be adding some stuff to my goodwill bag this afternoon! I wonder how many people find it as hard as I do to recognize when sunk costs are sunk — I know I sometimes keep a mistake for years on the idea that I’ll find a way to wear it. Then then there are some things that I love so much that I don’t really notice they are wearing out — I’m still thinking of something as “new and nice” when it’s on its really on its last legs. And,… Read more »

Jenzer
Jenzer
10 years ago

The best investment I ever made in my wardrobe was a year’s subscription to MissusSmartyPants (plug the name into Google to find her web site). Her Personal Profile newsletters gave me a solid understanding of what works well not just for my coloring, but for my combination of petite height, pear shape, and short-waisted proportions. Now when I shop, I can disregard about 95% of the options available to me (tunic tops? nope. skinny jeans? bad. prints anywhere on my bottom half? don’t bother). The result is that I buy far fewer clothes, but look anywhere from pretty good to… Read more »

Mary
Mary
10 years ago

I saw a guest on Oprah a couple of years ago say that most people wear 20% of their clothes 80% of the time and a lightbulb just went off in my head. I surveyed my closet and found that to be completely true for me. I have since stopped buying clothes I won’t wear lots. I have a couple of outfits for church/dressier occasions but the rest are mainly jeans and pullovers in the winter and capris and T’s for summer… all this stay-at-home mom needs right now. Thanks for your articles. I’m loving a woman’s perspective on this… Read more »

Carla
Carla
10 years ago

I have wasted far too much money on low quality clothes that ended up in the “household clothing” drawer or dismantled to make rags in a matter of months. Once I started in being thoughtful of my purchases, then I realized that clothes can last for years. There was one item of clothing I “invested” in when I was 18. It was a $400 coat and though it was a lot of money, I loved the fit and quality. When I gave it away last year (it was several sizes too large), it didn’t look that much different than the… Read more »

Sunandshine
Sunandshine
10 years ago

I agree..I am one of that persons whose closet has more clothes than it can hold:-( But, I always buy on sale..so I dont feel guilty:)) Once in a while, I bring in huge trash bags and fill up with ill fitting clotehs and dispatch it to Goodwill Every Thanksgiving I get a pair of Jeans from Gap–9$ I got one Ralph Lauren skirt for 5$–Have been wearing it for 4 years now. The best way to save money is to learn to accessorize well. I usually, team up my tops with accent scarves (again puchased during sale) so it… Read more »

Wes
Wes
10 years ago

One of the best tricks I’ve found for reducing closet crap is this: at the start of a new clothing season, rather than move everything into the convenient closet, put everything you think you might wear into another bedroom or hall closet. As you wear it, hang it back up in your main closet. At the end of the season, you’ll likely have lots of stuff still sitting that you never touched – excellent candidates to pass on!

Karen
Karen
10 years ago

A couple HUGE tips: 1) It’s all about the color. Figure out what colors look good on you and never buy anything in those other colors no matter how trendy they are this season. For example, I look terrible in off-white—only pure white blouses/sweaters/tops look good on me because of my coloring. 2) To liven up a classic wardrobe, try buying trendy stuff at Target–just to see if you like it. Yes, a $9 shirt won’t last long, but after you try it you may only want to wear it for one season. If you do end up liking the… Read more »

Peggy
Peggy
10 years ago

Hubby and I are at a definite advantage being self-employed. I own four outfits: three for wearing around the house, one for church and social functions. Yes, I really do wear the same outfit every single week to church and not one person has commented about it. When I go out, I put on my “outside” dress and hang my home dress back up to wear again. I don’t wash them until they are truly dirty, which makes them last longer. Hubby’s clothes, on the other hand, take up 4/5 of our available closet space, has five dresser drawers (I… Read more »

Sam
Sam
10 years ago

I find it much easier to stick with two-four brands or stores for professional clothes, I know the clothes from these stores will fit me well, wear well, etc. I’d rather pay more for a good pair of work pants that I know I’ll wear once every two weeks than get a super bargain for pants I might wear once or twice. When I buy clothes, I calculate the price per wear before making the purchase.

Karen
Karen
10 years ago

I like the “where will I wear this?” advice? For me, I only have 3 main categories: 1) work (business formal for me. Classics, deliberately kind of boring.) 2) casual wear for at-home, grocery shopping, and hanging with my kids (casual/shredded jeans, funky t-shirts, fleece, yay I get to express my personality!) 3) date night (includes sexy jeans, short skirts, and tops that are a little too attractive for work–another side of my personality!) For very fancy occasions (my Dad’s wedding, etc)– I will usually go shopping for something to wear to these rare specific events anyway. So I resist… Read more »

pamela munro
pamela munro
10 years ago

Gee – I do have trouble with this – my life is too checkerboard! I wear LOTS of jeans and t-shirts (and sweatshirts) at home & at the boat – but I ALSO have call for both formal, dressy, business wear & clothes that function more or less like COSTUMES, as I am an actress…Living in L.A. one HAS to have fairly chic clothes to keep up with the styles. And one can’t seem to have too many t-shirts. The truth of the matter, I think, is – as I read once – to be really well dressed, you HAVE… Read more »

Avistew
Avistew
10 years ago

That sounds interesting, although I have to admit the clothes problem has never been mine. I only own two pants, and true, I now own 3 pairs of shoes rather than he usual 3 (regular shoes, summer shoes and now winter boots due to moving to Canada). All the clothes I own, apart from the boots, are several years old (well, my wedding clothes are just over a year old, but they’ll last a lot more). I guess I’m lucky I don’t have the problem so many people have. I almost ever spend my money on clothes, it seems a… Read more »

Chett
Chett
10 years ago

J.D. and April, J.D. I think you did a great job picking April as a staff writer. This topic keeps you relevent in blogging about life and personal finance. So many people want to discuss just the principles of money, economics, and finance stuff on their blogs. This gets old after awhile and there is only so much you can write about how a mutual fund works. What is more important is how our financial decisions intersect with everyday life. In teaching most of my students come to me knowing that 6×9=54, but many don’t know how to apply that… Read more »

Oleg Mokhov
Oleg Mokhov
10 years ago

Hey April, An incredibly effective way of minimizing your wardrobe is to clothes maximization: maximum usefulness with minimum items. The strategy is to have the least amount of stuff in your closet while still have complete functionality (without needing tons of layering or clothes-changing) and desired style. Have each clothing item satisfy these two categories: 1) FUNCTIONALITY. Like you mentioned in buying for the season and lifestyle, analyze where you spend most of your time. Cities? Woods? Beach? Warm? Cold? Then get clothing with the necessary material (polyester, nylon, cotton, etc.) and the necessary features (warmth-preserving fleece, moisture wicking fabric,… Read more »

Ann
Ann
10 years ago

Since I’m a size 00 petite (I really hate vanity sizing) my personal rule is to buy multiples when I find something I like. I have a tendency to wear the same items enough times that they wear out within two years.

Richie
Richie
10 years ago

I have the opposite problem. I still wear some clothes that I’ve had for 10 years. My wife complains that I’m out of style and need to buy some new clothes. I just set up a new ING savings account to put $40/month in for clothes purchases.

jeremy
jeremy
10 years ago

I definitely fall victim to “swaying to low prices” being the bargain lover that I am. I have accumulated way too many things that I never use or wear this way. A friend recently taught me a little trick, which I took to heart. When something catches my eye at the clearance section, I ask myself “Am I more in love with the price or am I more in love with the item?” Nine out of ten times, it is usually the price I am more in love with, and not the item itself. And that shouldn’t be worth my… Read more »

Cheapskate Sandy
Cheapskate Sandy
10 years ago

I have a simple tip. Move to New York and make sure everything in your closet is black or white and you will always be in style…or is that just my lazy way of doing things?

chacha1
chacha1
10 years ago

@Jessica, LOL re not leaving yourself the option of going up a size again – good for you! I work from the opposite edge: if my size 8s start to get tight, I don’t go buy a 10: I stop eating so much! @Rachel, I also have to plan for dancewear and in four different categories: teaching, shows, social dancing, and practice. Ugh. This means my closet is pretty full. For my day job (business casual) I have a small selection of good slacks, skirts, and dresses, with inexpensive tops for variety over time. Keeps the cost pretty low. Great… Read more »

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