This is a guest post I wrote last year for pinknoted.com with some helpful tips, and I thought I'd repost it here. Enjoy.
Ok, quick survey. Do you have any items in your closet with tags still on? Any items you've only worn once? If so, I'm going to bet that those items are cheapy things you picked up while grocery shopping at Target or at a fast fashion store like H&M or Forever21. When I was asked to write a post about how to avoid impulse buys and fast fashion, I knew I had one surefire tip for doing so. The best way to avoid impulse buys is to buy quality.
Why? Think about it. Would you ever spend $200 or $300 on something that wasn't absolutely perfect? Something that you knew you'd never have an occasion to wear? Something that didn't make you feel amazing? Of course not. Yet when that item is $20, it feels like no big deal. If it's taking up precious real estate in your closet, it is a big deal.
When you buy the cheaper piece, you're going to have to replace it sooner, adding to the (literally) tons of discarded clothing on the planet. Many people talk about cost per wear and it certainly applies here. If you buy a $20 dress and wear it four times before it starts to pill or lose its shape, you've spent $5 per wear, and it essentially becomes landfill fodder immediately. If you find a designer dress on sale for $200 and wear it twice a month for 2 years (because you love it so much), you've spent just over $4 per wear and you still have years of wear left in the dress.
(outfits I styled at Byrd Designer Consignment Boutique, one of my favorite places to find quality clothes at a discount.)
I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, well that's great if you have the money to buy quality clothing, but I don't. I get it. I'm on a tight budget too. Have you ever added up over the course of a year what you spend on clothes? You might want to track it for a few months, because it can be pretty shocking. Do you have 5 or 6 pieces from fast fashion stores that you don't really wear, but bought because they were "affordable"? That's essentially wasted money that could have been spent on one quality piece you'll wear over and over.
There are also ways to get designer clothes for much less than retail:
- Resale and consignment stores. These stores sell recent designer clothing at 30-50% of the original retail price.
- Thrift and vintage stores. While there's a lot of inventory to sift through, there are gems to be found. Check out my tips for thrifting here.
- Ebay. If you can go to department stores or boutiques and try on designers you like, you can often find the same pieces on ebay for much less. You can even set up notifications so that you get an email any time something from your favorite designer gets listed. Check return policies. Some sellers accept returns and some don't, so make sure you don't get stuck with something that doesn't fit.
- Sale notifications. On sites like Shopstyle.com and ShopItToMe.com you can search for a specific item and then sign up to receive an email when that item goes on sale.
- Use cash back sites like Ebates.com and TopCashBack.com (yes, those are "Tell a Friend" links that give me credit if you sign up!) For instance, during the recent Nordstrom anniversary sale, Top Cash Back was offering 11% cash back if you entered the Nordstrom website through their site. If you're buying something for $200, that's a pretty easy way to save $22.
When you're shopping at secondhand, vintage, or thrift stores, here are a few things to look for in a quality garment.
- Natural fabrics like silk, cotton, wool, and linen instead of synthetic fabrics like polyester
- Strong seams that don't pull apart or have fraying threads
- Securely sewn buttons
- Seams and hems lie perfectly flat with no rippling or bubbling
My philosophy is always less is more. If you're going to have less, it better be good quality. It takes some dedication and a lot of patience, but you'll end up with a wardrobe full of beautiful pieces.