Wardrobe strategies: how to avoid shopping mistakes

Wouldn't it be amazing if there was a miracle formula for knowing which purchases we will end up loving and wearing all the time? So much money saved - not to mention all the time spent hesitating, pondering, asking others for clues etc etc. I would certainly love one. And being forever analytical, I am forever trying to figure it out.

I make mental notes about items I do not end up wearing and try to see if there is a pattern.

This does help somewhat as, yes, there are some patterns.

Mine are: coloured tops, patterns, very fitted clothes, cheap 'why not?' earrings, items that need handwashing/ironing.

Which has taught me that

1) going outside our comfort zone often doesn't pay off - but this we know already, and will still try, isn't constant evolution the fun part of life?

2) it is better to buy quality than not, which again we know, but my funds are limited and it is SO satisfying to find something cheap that becomes a favourite workhorse!

3) I am lazy; this one needs no comments.

Definitely helpful - but not everything always fits the pattern.

I analyse what state of mind seems best/least suited for making the right choices.

Many women swear by those spontaneous finds - you know when you just walk into a shop, spot a piece that might not even be your usual thing, try on it on and love it immediately? Indeed, pieces bought like this often end up working long term too. Except when they don't - when the piece you looooved in the shop somehow loses its appeal at home [or worse still, during the first wear, when all the tags have already been cut off]. And many beloved items find their way into your wardrobe as a result of careful planning and hunting, not spontaneous falling in love.

On the other end of the scale, there are our 'danger zones', i.e. moods that inspire shopping that rarely works out. Fun dance music in the shop always makes me buy impractical, reckless items; shopping when in need of TLC results in unnecessary pieces; personal shopping appointments often seem brilliant for climbing out of a style rut but in the aftermath, those purchases turn out to be not 'me' after all; and of course we all know how dangerous holidays can be for buying colours and styles that are just completely out of place back home. And yet - although all of the above situations are potential traps - I have bought fantastic items even in these circumstances [although there were many more mistakes..].

Again, helpful - but this approach is not definitive either.

I am forever searching for the best 'questions to ask oneself'.

Being a rational person, this appeals - if I could only find the right questions...

I have tried so many!

There are the practical ones - Is it flattering for your body and colouring? Does it suit your lifestyle? Do you have places to wear it? Can you think of three outfits you can make with it?

Which are admittedly practical, but I rarely even consider clothes that do not correspond to these.

Then the emotional ones - Do you want to wear it the following day? Do you like it so much you'd want to 'marry' it and wear forever?

Again, there is something in these - but many of my favourite pieces are ones that, however much I loved, I waited for a while before I first wore, and not all great items need to be wanted to be kept forever.

The best ones I have found so far are Will you reach for this item rather than for the ones you already have?'

and Is this the best way of spending this amount of money?' -- but even with these ones, mistakes do happen. [Or maybe I am just not answering them honestly?]

So over the years, I have come to the conclusion that real shopping success - in my opinion, at least - comes down to is what an item makes us FEEL like.


  • comfortable, both physically and mentally

  • like the best, or at least a better version of ourselves,


  • creative, i.e. whether we can and do end up wearing it in different ways - if not immediately, maybe over time.

It's just that these often only become obvious after a while...