Avoiding Buyer’s Remorse

Last week I told you about how much I love Old Navy (I still do, I’m stalking a chambray shirt there until it goes on sale.  It WILL be mine, but not at full price.  I’m in it for the hunt), and in case you did not already know, I love to shop.  I love finding things I love, coming up with new outfits, getting something for a really good deal, and I really love walking out of a store with the pretty bags.

You know what I hate?  Buyer’s remorse.  It’s the worst feeling ever.  For me, buyer’s remorse means that I wasn’t a good steward of my money (or in some cases someone else’s money if it’s a gift that I chose).  It means that I wasn’t really thinking about what I do have and what I really need.  It probably also means that I just felt like spending money that day, and that I just felt like buying more stuff.  That makes me angry.

There’s nothing like living out of a suitcase to teach you that you ALWAYS have too much stuff.

The great thing is, I can’t remember the last time I had buyer’s remorse.  Well, when it comes to clothes anyway… This is saying a lot since I tend to buy clothes when we are on vacation… and making no money, which is the perfect way to end up with buyer’s remorse. 

But I have changed the way that I shop.  Here’s some things that I’m doing to avoid buyer’s remorse:

Running Shopping List
I have a list of clothing items I want or need, and I keep it with me at all times.  Out of everything I do, this is the most effective. Items on the list could be as specific as a “Old Navy Chambray button down shirt” or as general as “Neutral tone printed skirt.” While I’m shopping, I reference my list again. I might look at other things, but my focus is on that list.  For low-techers, just keep it in a small notepad.  When I’m connected (read, not on the ship), I like to keep this list in my Evernote app, since it syncs the list on my phone, iPad, and PC.

Fit, Fill, Fulfill
If I decide to buy something that’s not on the list then it should fall into at least two of the three F categories: It must Fit with the rest of my wardrobe (I should be able to imagine it within 3 outfits at least), it should Fill a gap in my wardrobe (ie, “this red dress looks awesome and I have no red in my closet” not “this purple dress looks awesome, and it goes with my purple pants, top, and 3 other purple dresses I own”…), and/or it needs to Fulfill a genuine want or need for something (this sounds really open, so I do have to be careful about this or anything could fall into this category… it’s really for trend items that I want to try or when I’m trying to buy something for a specific event, like formalwear.).

Learning the core components of your wardrobe
One of the negatives of being on the ship is that wearing a small, capsule wardrobe, you tend to wear out items a lot faster than when you have your full closet at your disposal.  The benefit is that you learn what you really need (by what gets worn out the fastest).  I know that I’ll always need flesh-toned  flats, heels, and flat sandals.  I also always need a black cardigan, skinny jeans, a grey pencil skirt, and, oddly, a light pink cardigan.  So when I start to notice that those items are getting shabby, I put it on my list, and start watching for their replacements.  I will never regret replacing one of the core components of my wardrobe.   If I have replaced it fairly quickly, I might even invest in amore expensive version of that item (more on this in a minute). But if one of my sundresses shrinks a bit, I know that’s something I can just throw out or donate, no need to replace it right away or spend a lot of on it, as it’s not a necessity in my closet.

Be Critical of Inspiration
Do you read fashion or style blogs?  Browse Polyvore or Pinterest? It can be really overwhelming and put in your mind “IWANTIWANTIWANTIWANT.”  To combat that, if I see an outfit I love online, I pin it to my Pinterest style board, and I try to forget about it.  I go back a week later and look at it again, if it is still giving me that “gotta have it” feeling, then I really look and try to identify what I like about it.  Usually it’s not the whole outfit, but something very specific, maybe even an accessory or a specific feature on an item, like a specific type of button or neckline.  Then that goes on the aforementioned list.

Investment vs. Core Components vs. Trend
This has less to do with what I buy, and more to do with the amount of money I’m willing to spend and the quantity of items that I buy. Very little of what I purchase should fall in only the “trend” category, (example: neon harem pants) as I will usually tire of items that do.  If I’m going to buy a “trend,” I need it to be something fairly basic, like a neon striped tank top (as opposed to neon harem pants), that might fill a spot in my core components category, or at least fit in with those items.  I also avoid spending more than $15-$20 on items like these. Conversely I try to spend most of my money, and amass the largest quantity in my closet of those items that are my core components (mentioned above) or work with those items. BUT, with few exceptions, I don’t intend to spend more than $75 on any one item, and probably no more than $25 on most (these amounts are MY amounts, and may not be yours.  Your price limits will reflect your income as well as your shopping habits and also your place in life in terms of spending vs. saving). I am willing to spend more than that $75 on investment items.  These are items that often fit into my core components, but will get a lot more wear, and so the extra money spent (the investment) is worth it.  Examples are black boots and outerwear.

IF it doesn’t follow my rules above…
Then it needs to be something I absolutely love (you know the feeling) and that is well-made. I have a great example of an item like this that I’ll share sometime soon.

These are very fluid guidelines that leave a lot of room for interpretation.  This works for me, because when I make a decision that’s more conservative than these guidelines, I feel satisfaction and my willpower grows. 

There is one rule I do follow religiously with no exceptions that some people won’t be able to, but I have SO much clothing that it’s silly not to follow this rule: If I want to buy an ite, that requires that I buy more items so that I can actually wear it, like a pair of shoes that are awesome, but I have nothing that goes with them unless I buy this dress… then I don’t buy it. Ever.

Do you get buyer’s remorse?  What do you think of my guidelines to avoid it?

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