5 Steps to Smart Clothes Shopping

In the last 10 years social media has became a huge part of our lives. With YouTube, Facebook and Instagram, to mention a few, we are constantly exposed to new products and trends. It is very easy to lose ourselves in the virtual world and be influenced by the people we follow. Sometimes we get to discover something new and life changing however, other times we end up spending money on items we never really needed.

I don’t know about you, but I definitely found myself buying a pieces of clothing I knew wouldn’t suit me over the past few years. When I saw it while scrolling on Instagram, I thought it was something I wanted. The interesting thing is, only a week or two after I bought it, I realised I didn’t actually need it – I just wanted it because it was presented to me in a way that was attractive.  

This may not always be the case, don’t get me wrong. I have purchased items I came across on Instagram or while watching YouTube and and they were a few of my best purchases. I’m always bringing my Tangle Teezer with me wherever I go. In the end it all comes down to the right product for the right consumer and the right reason for purchase.

Photo by Emma Matthews

There was an article I came across a in early 2020 that talked about modern marketing. Many companies, such as clothing and make-up brands are working with bloggers or influencers because this helps them to reach their target audience. With the world being more digital now, many more people are likely to find entertainment online whether it’s by watching YouTube videos, scrolling on Instagram or reading blogs. My impression of colour magazines is that more people opt for the digital subscription now and the physical copy isn’t as popular as it used to be. Do you feel that way too? As many brands have digital subscriptions available for their customers, it makes sense to have product advertisement online associated with specific products for their industry.

I enjoy finding fashion inspiration from influencers or bloggers that I admire and respect. There was a time in a given week I might watch a few videos, and scrolled through a few Instagram posts and suddenly there were 20 pieces of clothing I felt I needed to have in my life! If you met me a few years ago I would have told you I must have them all. However, now I like to think I’m a little older, and a little wiser with my money. I still enjoy spending money on items I see online that have been presented by someone I follow however I have taken a new, organised approach to supplementing my wardrobe which I’d like to share with you. 

I don’t exactly consider myself to me a minimalist. I like the idea of it and I try to apply it as much as possible. However, I also enjoy buying clothes that I like. With this new approach I find that I would no longer buy 3 of the same item and I would think at least twice before I purchase anything. Having an analytical and organised approach allows for smarter shopping and better money management.

My Top 5 Steps to Smart Clothes Shopping

1. Identify what you need

I like to check my wardrobe from time to time to see what I have and what outfits I can put together. I check my seasonal wardrobe too, and sometimes I find items that I completely forgot I had. When I know what I have then I can start planning and assessing what I’d like to add to my clothing collection. It could be something new, something that is trendy or something to replace an item that is worn.   

2. Look for inspiration

Once I have identified what I’d like to add to my wardrobe, if I don’t have something picked already, I’ll do some research and look for inspiration on Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube. I don’t always like the idea of following the trends because I believe that we are all individuals and our style should reflect that, no matter what is in trend at a given time. My belief is that we should focus on our personal style and work with the trends to complement it rather than trying to fit our style into being trendy all the time. If the trends don’t suit my style, meaning I can’t find anything that I like, that’s okay. I don’t buy something for the sake of buying anymore, I’ll just wait until I come across something more suitable.

3. Consider if it matches with your current wardrobe

When I find something that catches my eye, I would do a check on how well it suits my style and will it go with other items I already own or I’m planning to buy. If the answer is yes, I will then move on to the next step. If it’s an item that stands out from my usual purchases, I’ll probably revisit it again in few days’ time. If it’s something I spot in a shop, I might try it on and take a picture of myself wearing it. If it’s an item I saw online, I would save it and then come back to it in few days’ time to see if I feel the same about it or perhaps I’ve lost interest. If I’m no longer interested I remove it from my wish list/bookmark.

4. Classify your purchase based on priority or frequency of wear

Once I’ve completed my search and have identified the items I’d like to buy, I move to the next step of the process. I like to organise the items I have selected on a list in order of preferences; 1st, 2nd and 3rd purchase preferences. What this means is that I’m identifying what items I would get the most wear out of, what would go with the most outfits I’ve planned and what I’d like to purchase sooner than the other items. Sometimes it really is just the right piece that I want and I’ll be happy to build an outfit around it. 

Looking back at inspirational outfits saved on Pinterest or Instagram helps me in finding the right type of clothing. If I see an item that would go with a number of other items I have been inspired by or I own already own, it goes straight to the top of my list.

This is an example of my Clothing Priority List:

You can see there are two Categories: Casual and Night Out. Under each category there are subcategories for 1st, 2nd and 3rd preference. Under Casual, I also have a Summer subcategory that would be specific to the season of the year.  

You can also see that some of the items are colour coded and there are lines associated with each item on the right hand side. This is a system I use to identify certain elements of the process.

Green –     Purchased, awaiting delivery

Orange –   Duplicate in another subcategory

Black –      Item on the list

I – this represents the number of times the item would go with planned/existing outfits. This would be influenced by inspirational outfits saved on Pinterest or Instagram or clothing I already own.   

5. Only buy what makes you feel amazing!

If I’m shopping in a physical store and I try something on and it just doesn’t feel right – I don’t buy it. If I have any doubts about an item, I know that I most likely won’t wear it more than once when I take it home. 

Similarly, this applies to items purchased online. When I order something online and try it on, it doesn’t feel right – I will send it back. I’ve learnt that if I tell myself I will wear it, even though I’m not convinced, I’m only lying to myself. I might wear it once but after that the item will just sit in my wardrobe collecting dust. 

There is one more place where I apply this rule. This is when I search online for pieces to buy. Sometimes I might see something that catches my attention. I think I like it but it’s not part of my list. When that happens I save it to my browser and revisit the item later in the week. Sometimes the first impression after seeing something is – I have to have it. However, after a couple of days that initial thought can wear out and I realise that it would have been an impulse buy. This method saves me time and money as 9 out of 10 times I won’t purchase an item I saw online that I initially liked.

5 Questions to ask yourself before buying new clothes

1. Does it make me feel amazing?

2. Do I really need it?

3. Does it go with items that I already own?

4. Do I already have something similar?

5. How often will I wear it?

Since I’ve implemented the 5 steps into my lifestyle I’ve only spent money on items that I really like. I now buy less in quantity compared to previously but the clothes would be of a better quality. That’s something that is also very important. I found that the better quality clothes I’ve bought will typically last longer. 

I hope this guide will help you the same way as it’s helped me. I’d love to hear your thoughts and suggestions. What do you think of the 5 Steps? Have you made any impulse buys lately? 



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