I was apprehensive about posting my most recent accountability update, as I definitely purchased far too many new clothes during August and September. However, the comments I received on that post were very supportive, encouraging, and helpful. Although I could use many of these comments as launching pads for new blog posts, there was one in particular that stood out for me.
Wise Words from Ellie…
A commenter named Ellie wrote the following:
- “How can you start using your analytical approach before making purchases and maybe model for us a process of managing our shopping? I remember Jill Chivers said that setting up support structures for success was crucial in going through a shopping ban (see her guest post here). I am wondering what the support structures for success are for shopping with a purpose.”
She then went on to suggest two “structures” she uses to manage her own shopping:
- When she is waiting for something she’s ordered online to arrive, she doesn’t browse any e-commerce sites. Once the item arrives and she has evaluated whether or not she is keeping it, she can then shop again. This helps to slow down her excitement and has prevented the “snowball effect” that can lead her into a full-blown shopping “binge.”
- For a given item on her shopping list, she finds several potential options online and then plays with their images to make possible outfits. She forces herself to do this for a few days before “pulling the trigger” on a purchase. Comparing several options gives her a chance to enjoy the emotional anticipation she gets from playing with something new, as well as the opportunity to analyze what will work best for her. The item that does the best in her outfit collages is the one she purchases.
Advice from Commenters and the Facebook Group
I loved this concept of “shopping support structures,” as did several other commenters on the blog. Because I thought this was such an excellent topic, I also posed it to my private Facebook group. The following is a collection of ideas from both blog commenters and group members:
- Once an item has been purchased within a given wardrobe category (i.e. a scarf or a pair of jeans), another item in that category cannot be bought until the new item has been worn a given number of times. (Note: This is something I tried to do during the first year of the blog, but gave up on too soon!).
- Before buying anything new, ask a reliable friend or family member if the item fits into your personal style.
- When you’re obsessed with a piece you don’t need, ask yourself, “Who the hell are you trying to impress with this?”
- If I’m not sure if I should buy or keep an item, I probably shouldn’t. I find that if I pause before buying something and ask myself what I would wear it with, would I really wear it, do I need it, and does it fit correctly (if buying in person), I’m usually happy with what I bought. For me, the most important thing is to buy something because I really need or want the clothing. If I’m buying for emotional reasons, I usually make poor choices.
- Think about the “opportunity costs” of an item. Ask yourself what you would need to give up in order to buy the item in question or what you could use the money for instead if you don’t buy it. Example: If I don’t buy this, I can add the funds to my parents’ or husband’s Christmas gifts, bring a better meal or wine to our weekly potluck party, tip more generously, or donate to another charity, etc.
- Pausing before buying (or placing the item in my online cart and leaving it there for a while) works pretty well for me. I find that if I have walked away and the item still screams “buy me” after I’ve waited (and if I keep dreaming up new combinations for it), then it is probably a good buy. I also keep all tags on and try the item on at home to truly decide if I am keeping it.
- I ask a couple of questions depending on what I am buying: (1) What will I get rid of when I bring this home? It’s a rule that if I bring something home, I have to get rid of something. I have no storage space at my house. (2) I calculate the hours of work the price represents and ask myself, “Would I work X hours just for this item?”
- For the past few weeks, I’ve been trying to say to myself patiently (in the tone one uses for a three year old who wants a cookie before dinner or a teen girl who wants yet another shade of nail polish), “You have enough (jeans/scarves/tees, whatever the item is).” I say this to myself firmly and lovingly, and so far, the answer has been, “Yeah, you’re right. I do.”
- I like to think about how good it feels to have money accumulate. I sometimes visualize Smaug the Dragon lying on his pile of gold, which actually does help, strange as it sounds!
- A big part of managing it all for me now is deciding way ahead of time how many of any category I allow myself for the year. I hesitate to say ‘need,’ as we all are aware that true needs are much less than what we think we need. So, I started “the list” (read more here). Knowing that I have 4 pairs of shoes allowed for the year, I think in terms of a sandal for summer, boots for winter, flats for spring, and sneakers for fall.
Aren’t those some great ideas? I’m sure that many of you out there have other suggestions that you can add. Please feel free to do so in the comments section. The more the merrier! I’m sure I will be doing a follow-up post on this topic soon, especially when I decide which shopping support structures I plan to take on for myself for the rest of this year and as 2016 gets underway.
I’ll be back later this week with my “Grab Bag of Useful Links” for October (see previous installments here). This round-up was on hiatus during September, but I did share some helpful articles on the hot topic of capsule wardrobes last month. I have lots of great content from fellow bloggers and others to share with you this week, so stay tuned.