My Eight Simple Rules For Staying Sane While Shopping

They keep me on budget -- and away from totally ridiculous purchases.
Faith Cummings
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They keep me on budget -- and away from totally ridiculous purchases.

Image credit: Lydia Hudgens

Image credit: Lydia Hudgens

I haven’t always loved shopping, but in the years after graduating college, I’ve really started to see the beauty in it. The feeling you get when you know newness has arrived at your favorite online fashion retailer, the moment that dress you tried on fits to a T, the excitement when you see those shoes you’ve fancied for months have finally gone on sale. It’s all rather cheesy really, but simultaneously pretty glorious. Anyone who doesn’t believe in the idea of “retail therapy” is quite frankly not someone I’d like to know.

Along with that grand satisfaction, there are also comes a few pitfalls. Sometimes the feeling gets so marvelous, that before you know it…you’ve made a really big mistake. Maybe you bought those Burberry boots you’ve been drooling over all season only to discover your checking account looks like this -_-, or perhaps you went ahead and purchased that bodycon dress you saw online just to try it on in the comfort of your humble abode and have the seams scream for dear life. Both epic fails.

Over the past couple of years, I’ve done the aforementioned one too many times, thus I’ve adopted a few shopping guidelines I look to before making each purchase. From keeping my fashion budget balanced to knowing what silhouettes look best on my figure, here are my eight style commandments.

1. Make a seasonal budget and stick to it. There's no easier way to go broke than shopping on a whim. Before each season starts, I decide on a cap of how much I can spend for those next few months and I make sure to stick to it. I never go over, but if I'm under, I carry those dollars (usually very few) over into the next season. I'm too old and NYC is too expensive to play the "I'll eat crackers every day for those shoes" game.

2. Save now to splurge on investment pieces later. It's not always easy to stash money away with high rents and lower salaries than we'd like, but I always try to find ways to save for the things I want. Whether it's putting $25 a week away to get that pair of Acne boots or even splurging on that amazing leather Coach duffel that will last me for years, I make a plan and follow through.

3. Know your figure and only procure designs that allow it to flourish. You have NO idea how many pieces I have in my closet that do not fit me/don't fit me well. From seeing my favorite blogger in a mesh top to desperately needing to have this Miss Selfridge pencil skirt that I pretty much knew wouldn't zip past my behind, I've made some pretty bad fashion choices. I guess these are just the hazards of online shopping right? Wrong! I was dumb and I've gotten a lot better at knowing what brands and silhouettes work best for me. I know I can't wear zip-front styles because of my curves, but I do know that empire-waist flare frocks look smashing on my figure, so I buy those in every fabric, color, and print imaginable.

4. Clean your closet seasonally and share what you no longer desire for additional money to refresh your assortment. As one gets older, honing your personal style should be paramount, but stores like H&M and Zara make spending on trends really easy to do. As each season comes around, I evaluate things I haven't worn in months or pieces I've become disenchanted with and I take them to a consignment store (Beacon's Closet is one of my faves.) Then I can get some cash to buy into the new trends for the season or store credit to pick up something else that's fun. It keeps my wardrobe choices fresh.

5. Manage your time when it comes to e-browsing. How many of us have spent hours on ASOS looking through every single sale page? *Raises hand* It's even harder when you're a blogger whose job it is to shop! I limit my shopping to three hours a week, which might even be too much for some of you. Once I go over my three hours, I delete every shopping email on sight and don't take on the next three hours until Monday rolls around. If you aren't looking, you aren't finding things to spend $$$ on right?

6. Have no fear of saying no to a deal. My closet is full of $5 crap that was too inexpensive for me to say "no" to. I think my mom might have passed the fashion hoarding gene down to me, so I have to actively combat it by saying no to cheap things even if I really really want them at the time. All those bargain bin steals add up over time and can burn a real hole through your pocket if you allow them to. JUST. SAY. NO.

7. Participate in international shopping. There's no doubt that I spend more money yearly on trips than shopping and the stuff you can find internationally are AMAZING. I live for statement jewelry so I stocked up on it when I went to Dubai and the items you'll find in little boutiques in Paris are super unique and way ahead of the trends that are booming here (sorry my American brethren). Not only that, but in certain places you'll spend so much less on things you'd shell out a lot of dollars for stateside. I stocked up on sarongs and sandals in Bangkok, with each piece retailing for below $3USD which were great steals.

8. Friends must be included in the fun. I have a very stylish set of friends, so I make sure to put out a few feelers when I'm in the market for a new piece and they do the same. My roommate identified some great black leather jogging pants that I needed in my life (funnily enough, I had bought them a week before her recommendation) and I'm always sending one of my BFFs cute things I think would fit her personality or designs she's been on the lookout for. To be honest, it often keeps me from spending and saves me a little time when I let someone else do the detective work.

Do you have any shopping rules you live by?