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6 Shopping Habits That Are Making You Hate Your Wardrobe

Sometimes I feel like I’m constantly editing my wardrobe. Which is a good thing, I guess, because you definitely should keep tabs on what is in your closet, eliminating things as they lose value in your life to avoid a cluttered space, and filling your wardrobe with things that you love and feel confident in. But I have to wonder, in all of my closet-editing, how I got to the point where I owned so many pieces of clothing I didn’t genuinely love to begin with.

A lot can happen under the fluorescent lighting of a shopping mall, and when it comes down to it, you might be making the very shopping mistakes I’ve made in the past that leave you with a closet full of junk, and a perpetual “nothing to wear” feeling.

As I’ve gone though and thought more about the things I could do to make my shopping experience (and subsequently, the process of dressing myself each day) easier and more natural, I identified six shopping habits I’ve had in the past that led to my feeling unsatisfied with my own collection of clothes.

Here are six things you might be doing while shopping that are making you hate your wardrobe — and how you can stop doing them and curate a collection of clothing that you seriously love wearing.

1. You’re thinking “quantity” over “quality.”

If you walk into a store with a certain budget in mind and the goal to get as many articles of clothing as possible while keeping within that budget, you’re doing it wrong. The goal shouldn’t be to have a stack of new tee shirts — it should be to have the amount you’ll need of tee shirts that you’ll actually wear. If you’re gonna spend $100 at the mall, you’re better off getting 2-3 good-quality sweaters than ten cheap, disposable ones.

2. You’re thinking “quality” over everything else.

Conversely, justifying purchases that are not affordable for you, and don’t fit comfortably in your budget on the basis that quality is most important is not a good thing. If you can’t afford to spend the amount of money it costs to get a high-quality sweater, but you need a sweater, get the one that is in-budget for you. A lot of advice you’ll see on the internet (see above) will tell you quality is the most important thing. And it is important, but it is not always accessible — and let us not forget, people without a lot of money are cold too, and also need sweaters.

3. You’re only shopping the sale.

Sale sections are awesome, and I always feel the gravitational pull towards the red-sticker section the second I step into a store. But sometimes, the sale items are on sale for a reason — they’re often off-season (meaning you won’t find what you’re looking for/what you really need in there) and sometimes shoved into sale because they weren’t big sellers for whatever reason — maybe the material is itchy, or the fit is universally unflattering.

This is not to say that you can’t find awesome stuff in the sale section sometimes — but sometimes, it’ll be a bust, and you’ll end up buying three clearance tank-tops even though winter is coming and you initially went shopping to stock up on warmer clothes.

4. You’re not using coupons/discount codes.

A good thing to do instead of relying only on the sale section in a store is to search for coupons and discount codes for the stores you like to shop — more often than not, you’ll find some sort of deal or code that will help you save on full-priced, in-season clothing. Also, most stores have different deals going on than their online counterparts — Banana Republic, for example, often has a 40% off code online, but doesn’t advertise it in-store. However, if you ask an employee, they’ll often honor the online codes and give you the discount. (Yasss!)

You’ll love your favorite clothing items so much more if you know you got an amazing deal on them.

5. You’re saying “good enough” in order to save a few bucks.

Picture this: you need a new pair of boots, and the ones you really love and want to buy are $150. Unwilling to pull the trigger, you buy a less-expensive, $75 pair. A few weeks later, you’re still lusting after the $150 pair you loved, and wondering why you wasted $75 on a pair that was just okay when you could have just paid the slightly-higher price and gotten the pair that didn’t leave you dying for a new pair a week later.

If it is in your budget to buy the thing you want and you can’t find a less-expensive option that you love as much as the pricey one you’re dying to buy, just spend the little extra bit. It is good to be careful about how you’re spending your money, but denying yourself the thing you love in favor of a slightly less-expensive version that makes you go “eh” when you see it isn’t worth it. Chances are, if you’re still thinking about those boots in a few weeks, you’re going to buy them too, and end up regretting wasting your money on the cheaper pair in the first place.

6. You’re picking up what you like impulsively, but not what you need to fill wardrobe gaps.

I love knitwear and tee shirts, so when I walk into a store, my eyes dart around the room and stop only when they’ve found the knitwear and tee shirts I desire. However, when I’m on a shopping mission, I sometimes totally forget about what I’m at the store for, and ignore it in favor of buying new versions of the same-old shit I already have. News flash, Mary: you don’t need more sweaters, but you do need a coat. So stop leaving the store with a new sweater and forgetting about the coat entirely.

Mary writes every day for TFD, and tweets every day for her own personal fulfillment. Talk to her about money and life at!

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  • HL

    I actually hate shopping the sale section. I really dislike shopping, and chances are I don’t want to be in the store in the first place, so I really don’t have the time or patience to pick through all the random crap that’s haphazardly thrown together in that section. Yes, occasionally there are gems to be found, but I’d rather just grab what I need right away, pay the few extra bucks for it, and get the heck outta there. Plus, I’m not saving money by buying something I didn’t want or need in the first place.

  • Irina

    $100 for “2-3 quality sweaters”? What kind of quality sweater does $33 buy?

    • Carolina

      I’m glad someone said this.

      • Miss Meg

        Maybe she meant $150 for one good-quality sweater?

  • Summer

    Extremely yes to both #2 and #5. I’ve really gotten adamant about not continuing to waste money on cheap, crappy clothes or pieces that otherwise fall only into the “good enough” category, but sometimes I get TOO hung up on the particulars and find myself at a standstill. I’ve been on the prowl for a pair of black ankle boots for a couple of months now and I have been very specific about what I wanted from those boots: a bit of heel but still comfortable for walking all day, a sleek profile to complement a skirt/tights combo, comfortable interior whether I’m just wearing tights or have on winter socks, leather upper at the very least, non-slip sole, no laces, and preferably one of those pull-tab thingies on the back because I like the way they look. I searched in stores and online and just could not land on the right pair of boots. I looked well beyond the price point I was comfortable with, figuring if they’re really *that* great and check all my boxes then they’ll make a fine ~investment piece~ and whatever I’ll suck it up and pay more. Even then I still couldn’t find a boot that I both liked the look of on its own and on me with tights. I tried on countless pairs, purchased and returned two more, and finally, FINALLY found a pair this weekend in a store that I really like. They don’t have a pull tab, the sole is not quite as wintry “safety first” as I’d have liked, but they’re leather other than the sole, they have a blocky heel that feels secure and puts my foot at a comfortable pitch for walking, they look awesome with tights and also work well with jeans, I can use a thin insole or thick socks as I please, and they set me back about $100, which is a solid $150ish less than I had technically weaseled myself into being willing to spend. I *almost* didn’t put those boots on at all purely because of the lack of pull tab, told myself I was being absurd, and soon as I slipped them on and stood up I knew I had a winner. I’ve already treated them with leather conditioner and a water-protectant spray and they are ready for their maiden voyage into the world.

    So basically this was a really long explanation in support of the importance of finding a balance between budget, quality, and characteristics. Great piece, Mary!

  • Carolina

    I pride myself for having a very classy and basic wardrobe (still working on some categories though) but I got most of my sweaters second hand. I have a few I spent more on ($100-200 range) but last month I got a haul of 4 sweaters (plus like 6 other items) for under $70 at Value Village. Just class them up with a nice watch and purse and you’re set.