How to Prevent Clothing Impulse Buys

We’ve all been prey to the impulse buy. But when that starts becoming the norm (like it did for me a few years ago), it can cause some serious budget and space issues.

I’ve also started becoming more conscious about where my clothing comes from, so what does a girl do? Research.

Researching my next purchase and being more intentional about what I’m buying has totally changed my shopping habits - and even what I feel like I truly need. Want to get started with your own shopping revolution?

Here’s what I do.

Image Credit Elliot Stokes

Image Credit Elliot Stokes

Start by planning ahead

Like, really far ahead. Sit down right now and consider what you’ll need in the next six months. If you’re feeling up for it, think twelve months in advance.

What basics will need replacing? Is there anything missing from your wardrobe or home that you see as a necessity? I moved from Indiana to California, which triggered a few updates to my wardrobe based on the weather changes.

Write down every upcoming event (or possible event) and ask yourself if you’ll need a new outfit for it. The key word here is need. Do you really need a new dress for each wedding and holiday?

When you’re done with this list - congrats! You just created a shopping list for the next six or twelve months.

Set rules for yourself

My rules for clothing are: ethical/sustainable, quality, and affordable. In that order. If I can’t find anything super affordable, then maybe it’s time I rethink exactly it is that I want because the first two are more important.

You might want to set rules based on aesthetic (Solids? Stripes? Patterns?) or based on the stores you want to shop from.

Whatever you choose, these rules are meant to guide your purchase decisions by restricting your options. That sounds like a bummer, but it’s really quite nice to have limited options.

Once you make your rules, stick to them. This might take a while to get used to!

Research based on your plan and your rules

Here’s where it all comes together: start researching products that fit into both your plan and your rules.

Don’t just stop at one that you think is “okay” - if you’re not completely satisfied with it, move on to the next item. Keep going until you find the perfect match.

The point of this is to absolutely love what you purchase so that you don’t find yourself purchasing an update of that same item in another six months.

A good rule of thumb is whether you feel the item fits in with your long term wardrobe or lifestyle goals. Can you see this in your closet or home five years from now? Hopefully the answer is yes.

I do most of my shopping online to avoid seeing things that are outside of my current plan as much as possible, and that allows me to make more informed (and less rushed) decisions.

Why this works for me

This strategy has worked so well for me. I enjoy the fact that I am now way more informed about what I’m purchasing and why I’m purchasing it.

Spending more time researching something before purchasing it gives me the extra time I need to mull over the purchase - do I really need these jeans?

And at the end of the day, I feel better about what I’m wearing because I know that it came from a well-intentioned, well-informed place.

This strategy works particularly well for clothing, but it can also be applied to anything else you bring into your home.

What is your best rule of thumb for stopping impulse buys?