How to Stop Buying Clothes You’ll Never Wear

invest don't shop

The Nordstrom Semi-Annual sale just happened and so did a $3000 dent in my credit card. Ouch! Yes, I bought about $3K worth of new clothes which is insane for me, but about 60% of that purchase has already been returned and about $800 of that initial sum was new threads for my husband.

I’m not going to lie, I love to buy new clothes and I don’t see anything wrong with that, however, I’d have to say that at least 35% of the purchases I’ve made over the course of my life have gone completely unworn.  That’s a huge problem.

I used to go to a mall and buy things for sport. The mall was my jungle and I was on a mission to hunt and kill the best deals ever. Because of this mindset, I’d often end up buying some cute clothes at killer prices that I knew I’d never wear. Uh, goal achieved? Not really.


So here’s how I’ve changed my shopping strategy so that nothing hangs in my closet unworn again:

  • I avoid malls at all costs, I do all my clothes shopping online, and only shop at stores that give free return shipping (because I’m notoriously bad for not getting my size right). This has been a game changer for me and I’ve eliminated so much wasted time and unworn clothes.
  • I try on clothes at home (before I’m committed to keeping them) so I can see them in context with current my wardrobe. I can easily check how many other items I already own that will work with the piece. Does it go with everything in my closet or barely anything? If it’s a lone soldier, it goes back. I only want pieces that I know will work across my wardrobe.
  • I don’t take the tags off until I’m 100% sure I want to keep the garment and I’m about to wear it. I’m notorious for liking something initially, but when I actually put it on to wear out of the house, I wonder How to stop buying clothes you'll never wearwhat the hell I was thinking. Everything needs a second evaluation before I decide to keep it.
  • I will often buy things that I see worn by fashion bloggers. This provides the benefit of understanding how to wear and style the piece (because I am not good at this) and bloggers will often let you know when items are on sale. I love shopping this way as the blogger (who did the leg work for me) gets affiliate revenue, and I get the perfect piece that I know how to wear.
  • I never buy clothes that are final sale, especially if it’s online. Even the cutest pants that are are marked down 75% are still too expensive if they don’t fit, you can’t wear them and you can’t return them. J Crew has slayed me with this one. I find cute final sale items, I’m convinced they’ll fit, I bite the bullet and buy final sale and then I end up donating them because they’re unwearable. Never ever will I do this again.
  • I don’t buy special occasion clothes. Like, ever. My average gala or wedding attendance is about once every 2 to 3 years, so I see no reason to buy a new outfit that I will only ever wear once. I’ll either accessorize a basic black dress, recycle the one cocktail dress that I have or if it’s a really fancy event, I’ll Rent the Runway. This is such a brilliant concept.
  • I never shop with other people. Back when I mall shopped for sport, I’d often go with friends. This was our social activity which seems so bizarre to me now, but that’s’ what we did. Because I’m not confident with my ability to pick clothes, I’d often rely on the opinion of my friends to tell me what looked okay on me. We all do this. Even when we’re not sure we like something, we’ll often buy it just because our friends think it looks cute. Even the sales person’s opinion is carefully weighed. You can imagine what happens to these pieces once you’ve got them hanging in your closet. Yep, nothing!

It has taken me an embarrassing amount of time to figure this strategy out, and I’m so incredibly grateful for the evolution of online shopping!! I hope you find these strategies helpful. Here’s a few of my favorite online retailers that have great stuff (IMHO), generally good prices and amazing customer service and shipping.

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  • Nordstrom
  • Nordstrom Rack
  • Zappos
  • Amazon
  • H&M
  • Lulu’s
  • New York & Company

Now I’ll leave you with a few of my favorite things from the Nordy’s sale.  I’m sure they’re all sold out by now, but damn are they cute, affordable and in my closet, ready to be worn AF 🙂