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avoid impulse buys - shop from a list

avoid impulse buys - shop from a list

To curb impulse buys, the best thing you can do is shop from a list. Think about it - what happens when you go to the grocery store without a list? You end up with random things that sounded good in the moment but don’t necessarily fit together to make a whole meal. When you meal plan and shop with a list, you actually buy the things you need to make a recipe. It’s the same with clothes. Many people wonder why they have a closet full of clothes and nothing to wear, but it’s this - it’s like having a pantry full of ingredients but no plan. If you buy clothes without thought to how they fit into the rest of your wardrobe, you’re going to end up with a bunch of random stuff.

how to avoid impulse buys

Here’s what to do instead: define your style (pick a recipe), declutter (throw away that rotting head of broccoli), take stock of what's left (what’s in your pantry),  and make a list of what’s missing. You might get rid of all the pants that don’t fit and find that you have plenty of jeans, but you’re only left with one pair of pants that’s appropriate for work. Put it on the list. Maybe every time you try to wear a dress in the winter, you don’t have the appropriate tights. Put them on the list. The next time you end up in front of a clearance rack, you’ll have a plan. If you find well-fitting work pants on sale, go for it. They’re on the list, you must need them! If they're not on the list, you can be pretty sure that you're being swayed by the bargain and that item will end up in the purge pile the next time around. 

Do you use a list when shopping - grocery or otherwise? Do you think it helps?

P.S. My other tip to avoid impulse buys.

five tips for a mindful shopping trip

five tips for a mindful shopping trip

The actual process of going to a store and purchasing clothing can be overwhelming or frustrating even for those who enjoy it. As we head into the summer sale season, I thought I'd share a few tips for mindful shopping.
 

Various pictures taken on client shopping trips...


1) Before going shopping, MAKE. A. LIST. I can't emphasize enough how important this is. You can't go shopping without knowing what you're looking for. Well, you can, but I can guarantee you will regret most of what you buy. A shopping list should come from defining your style, evaluating your wardrobe, and thoughtfully planning what is needed to make it function at its best. Also, be specific. "Clothes for work" is not an appropriate item for a shopping list. "Slim leg, neutral colored, stretchy cotton blend pants" is an appropriate item. "Top" = no good. "Printed blouse in a washable fabric with an a-line shape" = good. Get the idea?

2) Go shopping at a non-peak time like a weekday or first thing in the morning, even if this means taking a half day from work. It's worth it. Everything will be better. Salespeople will have more time to help, they will be in a better mood, there will be less noise, fewer people, more sizes available. This all results in a much less stressful experience. Wear comfortable shoes and a cross body bag so that your hands are free. Dress nicely and do your hair and makeup so that you feel good about yourself. Bring snacks and water. This might all seem trivial, but trust me, it's the difference between mindful and meltdown.

3) While browsing, focus on only one item on your list at a time. For instance, if you are looking for the printed blouse in our example above, pull only printed blouses on your first sweep through the store. Next, go back and look for the neutral slim leg pant. This way of isolating things helps cut through the visual clutter that can be overwhelming in a store with thousands of items. Try not to get distracted. Recently, a saleswoman I often work with offered to show me pants that hadn't been put out on the floor yet. My client and I were both temporarily swayed by the prospect of "new!" "secret!" pants, but since we were specifically shopping for tops, we declined to even look. 

4) Now you've made it to the dressing room. You've taken everything that might be an option, even if you're not sure. Things often transform when on a body, so don't rule something out because it doesn't look good on the hanger. This might mean that you're trying on 40, 50, 60 items. It's ok. Don't feel guilty about making work for the salespeople (or is that just me?), it's their job. Be quick and ruthless. If it works, put it aside as a potential buy. If it doesn't, don't take it personally and move on.

5) The decision making process will be easier if you follow the preceding steps. For instance, if you have the printed top on your list and you follow step three, you won't end up in the fitting room with things you don't need. If you have a snack, you won't buy something just because you're hangry and want to get out asap. So now you've tried everything. Revisit that first round of potential buys. Narrow down your options. Try them again. Take pictures. Get a second opinion (not because you're going to take it, but because it'll help you clarify what you really think). Do not take the opinion of the salesperson. Their goal is to get you to buy, regardless of whether you should or not. Ask yourself a bunch of questions: will this go with most of my wardrobe? Will I still like this in six months? Do I really need it? Why am I buying it? Am I buying it because it's cheap? Because it's on my list? Because it fits my style? Would I buy this if it wasn't on sale? Is this better than something I already have? (If so, get rid of the less good item in your closet immediately) Is this worth having an overstuffed, stress-inducing closet for? Will I want to return this in a few weeks, creating more work for myself?

We all make mistakes sometimes, but hopefully these tips will help you
avoid a few of them!

when mindful = boring

when mindful = boring

And no, I'm not talking about my preference for neutrals ;) Sometimes it just so happens that you've found clothes that fit. You have clothes that are practical for your lifestyle. You have the few special occasion pieces you need for unexpected events.  You've got all the layering pieces and basics and accessories to make any outfit you need. Everything on your list is checked off.

Then what?

After making a couple of quick shopping trips in early July, I have practical, stylish clothes that fit the body I currently have. I have several cute summer dresses (see evidence above), and that's more than enough for my current social calendar. I have everything I need for this season and this phase of life. Even after I had all of this, instead of relaxing, I felt an urge to kept frantically looking.

I stopped myself and thought about what was going on. I was feeling the absence of excitement of the new. I wanted to keep experiencing the thrill of the hunt, even though the hunt was over. When it's my turn to have a break from the baby, I had gotten used to seizing the moment to take a shopping trip. It is my preferred activity of choice, after all, for myself and for other people. On top of that, our apartment in Boulder is practically IN a pedestrian shopping mall. Everything is right there in front of me.

After reflecting on all of this, I realized that I didn't want to go shopping just for the entertainment value. I didn't want the temptation, didn't want to see something that I didn't know I "needed" until that very second. I even refrained from buying anything at the Nordstrom anniversary sale, people!

So, instead, I'll just acknowledge the feeling of wanting. I'll feel the space instead of trying to fill it. I'll review my style inspiration Pinterest page and and remember that I have what I need to achieve those looks. I'll go to yoga instead of shopping. I'll read fewer fashion blogs that showcase a different new outfit every. damn. day. I'll stop and pause to resist temptation. I'll try to stay mindful, even if it is a little boring. Or, maybe instead of saying "boring", I'll call it "peaceful".

five steps to a mindful wardrobe

five steps to a mindful wardrobe

So, what exactly is a mindful wardrobe? What does it look like? It's when you open your closet in the morning and you love every piece in it and every piece loves you back. It’s when getting dressed is easy and fun, not frustrating and stress-inducing. It’s when there are no longer sleepless nights worrying about whether you have the appropriate clothing for a given situation. It’s when you shop knowing exactly what you’re looking for and you make good choices. 

Believe it or not, it is possible. Here are my steps to get you on the path to enlightenment:

Step 1: Define your personal style. Before you ever get into your closet, you should know what you want to look like. This might seem unnecessary when all you’re itching to do is get in and start clearing, but it’s wasted time if you don’t do this first. For instance, if your style is boho-chic, pencil skirts are not going to get a whole lot of action and it’s better to know this going in. (Not sure what your personal style is? Check out my post on defining your style here.)

Step 2: Get rid of everything. Just kidding. Get rid of most of it though. Remember, having too many choices is draining. I like to break this down since it can be an overwhelming process, so this is the first round, the easy stuff. Here are things you should get rid of immediately:

  • Clothes from high school or college or ten years ago. If it has sentimental meaning, put it in a box. Get it out of your closet.
  • Clothes that were a gift. I know, I know, you feel like you need to wear it in the presence of the gifter. You know what? They’re big kids, they’ll have to get over it. Ask people to give you gift cards instead.
  • Hand-me-downs. Hand-me-downs are for five-year-olds (anyone else get mistaken for a boy as a kid because you were wearing your cousin’s clothes?), not for grown adults. If you didn’t choose something because you loved it, it has no place in your closet.
  • Stuff that doesn’t fit. Please please please stop hanging on to those clothes that you’ll wear when you finally get rid of that extra five pounds. Let’s face it, that might not happen for a while and when it does, these clothes will probably be outdated. Anyway, you should reward yourself with new stuff at that point!

Step 3: Going through the “maybe” pile. This is where the real willpower comes in. These are pieces that you feel like you should wear and yet you don’t. Things you’re saving for the one occasion they might be appropriate for but never happens. Things that you spent money on but never wore. Things that only go with one other piece in your wardrobe or that require purchasing something new before you can wear it. Things that make no sense for your lifestyle. Like the clothes that don’t fit, these things are not just cluttering up your closet, they’re cluttering your mind. They’re like toxic friends, spewing negative messages and inducing guilt every time you open your closet. Let them go. Tell them you are no longer going to let them intrude on your newly found zen-like state. Tell them that you can’t control their actions, but you can remove yourself from being around them.  Wait..sorry, what were we talking about? Oh right, clothes. Got side tracked into a therapy session there. Back to the point. If something’s going to get a coveted place in your closet, the answer to these three questions should be yes:

  • Do you love it? As in, so much that you want to marry it?
  • Do you feel good in it? When you look good and are comfortable in what you’re wearing, you will have a better day. You just will.
  • Is it “you”? See Step 1: define your personal style

Step 4: Make a list. After all this purging, you may realize that you have 20 tops you love and only 1 pair of pants, or vice versa. Maybe you have a closet full of cocktail dresses, but nothing to wear for real life. Make a list of what you really need and stick to it when you go shopping.

Step 5: Stop buying stuff! Seriously, if you’re buying clothes while you’re grocery shopping, it’s probably not a good idea. If it’s not on your list, you better think twice. If someone tries to give you stuff, politely decline. This is where the “mindful” part comes in, because it’s really hard to be so picky. Save your money for one beautiful blouse, rather than four impulse buys you’ll never wear. Don’t settle. You deserve better.

Too much for you to take on? Take the Making Space course and get led through the process with videos, worksheet, and a supportive Facebook group. Sign up here!