My Shopping Rules: How To Stop Wasting Money On Stuff You'll Never, Ever Wear

I've set up some rules for myself and unless I can check off every damn one, I'm not allowed to buy whatever it is that I'm considering buying.
Publish date:
April 12, 2013
money, saving money, budget shopping, shopping drunk

I've talked before about people who are just naturally good at shopping and have admitted that -- try as I might -- I am just not one of them. Maybe it's because I have no idea what "my personal style" really entails, or maybe it's because I'm impulsive, or maybe it's because emails telling me that I've gone over my limit for "Clothing" by, like, 1200% is the kind of thrill I need in my life, but, whatever it is, it has left with me with a closet full of things I don't want.

But I'm trying to get better! I'm trying to be a better person, guys!

I've set up some rules for myself and unless I can check off every damn one, I'm not allowed to buy whatever it is that I'm considering buying. This has been really, really, really annoying, but also really, really, really helpful to my bank account and issues related to closet space. The rules are as follows:

1. Quality Must Match Price:

Now, there are plenty of stores that I regard as being "splurge stores" that I think are worth it. I don't mind spending more money on clothing, just so long as that "more money" is buying me "better quality." But there are certain stores that will charge, like, $350 for a polyester maxi skirt that will crumble to dust in your hands in about a month.

So, how do you figure out what is actually worth the steeper price and what is just a gross and terrible lie? There area few things you should examine.

The very first thing you should is check out the material. Natural fibers (silk, wool, cotton) will always be worth more than that fake stuff (polyester, acetate, nylon). Next, check out the stitching. Quality stitching will have about 8 stitches per inch. Take a look at the buttons and zippers. The buttons should not be loose and the zippers should move smoothly. These are the three easiest things you can do to make sure you're getting a quality item.

Now, I'm not saying you should go out and pay $200 on a plain T-shirt just because it has better stitching than one from Target, and I'm not saying you shouldn't buy the $12 "leather" shorts from Forever 21 over the $800 real ones just because the zipper is smoother on the ones made of actual cow, but I am saying that you should get what you pay for.

2. Three Outfits Must Be Able To Be Made:

A mistake I oft make is that I'm like, "OH! I LIKE THIS THING! LET ME GET IT!" without considering how that thing would mesh with what I already own. So, now I have a rule that I must be able to put together three outfits made up of the piece I'm considering purchasing and pieces already in my closet.

Ideally, these should be three very different outfits for three different occasions but, hey, not everything you buy can be such an overachiever. Bonus points for this rule: It forces you to get creative with what you have in your closet.

3. You Must Not Already Own Two Similar Pieces:

I own four chambray button-downs because I love chambray button-downs and also because I'm stupid. I keep buying them! And, like, fancy Madewell ones! What is wrong with me! Here's the deal: I know what I like and what looks good on me, and it's so easy to just keep buying more of those things. But, damn, a girl only needs so many knitted sweaters, tight skirts, and chambray shirts, you know? Just becuase you like something, doesn't mean you need eight of it.

4. Do Not Shop For The Person You Wish You Were:

I like to imagine there is an alternate universe somewhere in which I use Pinterest to find new recipes, and can wear white without spilling coffee on my person, and remember to write thank you notes, and always smell like vanilla. Too often, I find myself shopping for this Michelle.

I own a dress from Anthropologie that has elephants all over it and four separate bows on it. Like, what? Why would I ever get that? There's nothing wrong with it, but it's just so incredibly not my style. It's really easy to be sitting in a dressing room and think, "I could totally be the type of person who would wear a maxi skirt made out of feathers," and, I mean, cool if you are, but don't pretend to be something you're not.

Basically this rule is "Do you. Not some weird, fantasy versh of you."

5. Do Not Online Shop At 3 In The Morn:

Do you have a faux leather bustier? Oh, you don't? Weird, because I do! I got it at four in the morning on NastyGal! I regret it a lot, but didn't return it because I am an awful person who would rather waste $30 than communicate with people at the post office!

Tell me if you have any shopping "rules" below or @michellelynking.