Why Many Women Fail at Shopping (and How to Avoid Costly Mistakes!)

Not so long ago, I used to be a shopaholic. I believed that shopping was like therapy. And it was. The only thing is, it was a very short-term therapy. All the shopping excitement would fade away that same evening after the tags were removed and the clothes were put in my closet.

The next day, I’d feel that, once again, I had nothing to wear! What? I just spent X amount of money on new clothes and I still have nothing to wear? It always seemed like I was missing something, and as soon as I bought it, the next thing I needed immediately popped up. The result was an over-flowing closet with nothing to wear. Sound familiar?

fail at shopping

A quick fact: In Britain, the average woman has approximately $380 worth of garments in her closet that she doesn’t and will never wear. I’d say it’s pretty safe to assume this stat could represent women in the US and Canada too.

Eventually, I started to avoid shopping as I knew something had to change. I could not understand where I was failing. Why was I buying one “must have” after another, but still didn’t feel complete? So, I took a break from shopping completely and started my research. This is when I learned about capsule wardrobes and the difference between “slow” and “fast” fashion. You won’t hear about it until you do your research because the fashion industry doesn’t want you to know. You only see commercials and ads telling you what you “must” buy to be cool, pretty, and fashionable, etc.

During my long break from shopping, I was able to figure out why we buy clothes we don’t like and don’t wear. I even signed up for an image consulting class! It was a pretty expensive move, but this is an investment that will save my family and I money in the long run as I can make more educated choices when it comes to fashion. Together, the shopping break and class helped me to understand why we buy garments we never wear.

Here are 7 reasons why many women fail at shopping (and tips on how to avoid costly mistakes):

Cheap clothes.

Cheap clothes are easy to buy, because they are… yes, cheap. When we buy cheap items, we get such a feeling of richness and satisfaction that we actually convince ourselves that we can afford to buy new garments every week. Today, an average American buys around 70 items of clothing per year, which is over one garment per week. Unfortunately, most of those clothes will collect dust in your closet, some will be worn briefly and then end up in a donation center (at best) or the landfill (at worst).

When shopping, choose quality over quantity. You can always sell or consign quality pieces later! Bring it to the local consignment store or order a free consignment kit from an online consignment store. Thus, it is better for your wallet and for our planet, since it doesn’t end up in the landfill.

Sales. Sales. Sales.

Half Price. BOGO. 60% OFF. 70% OFF. 90% OFF! Those are magic words for many women! However, marketers created them not to save you money, but rather, take more money from you. If the original price is $100 and the sale price is $50 – you are not saving $50, you are still spending $50. Remember this when you shop sales. I am not trying to persuade you to avoid sales completely. Just be mindful. Avoid buying a garment just because it is on sale. Ask yourself: would you would pay full price for it? Even if you succumbed to temptation to buy the garment that was on sale, don’t rush to remove tags. Sleep on it and if you don’t LOVE it, don’t be lazy. Be sure that you return it right away. One thing I always avoid, though, is FINAL SALE. Often, final sale items are not returnable.

Impulse buying

On the way home from work, you stopped by the mall to pick out one blouse, but yet came to the register with six more garments. Maybe you were in a particular mood or maybe you saw a celebrity wearing it and thought it looked good. Oh, why not? But in reality, you either don’t have things to wear it with or it doesn’t fit your lifestyle.  How many times have we all made this mistake? Try to take a walk through the mall before buying anything. Chances are, you won’t even remember what you intended to buy. If you are still thinking about it after 15-20 minutes, go for it.

Forgetting or neglecting to return online purchases

I love online shopping. It saves me lots of time but of course, the downside is that you can’t try it on. So, when you buy things online, make sure to check their return policy and if an item doesn’t fit, set a rule to return it right away.

Buying garments, not outfits.

Another reason that many women have overflowing closets yet nothing to wear is because women buy garments, not outfits. The best thing you can do is to make a plan (or shopping card) before you go shopping. Another option? Before you buy a clothing item, figure out if you can create 3-4 outfits from the one item. If you can, go for it! You can also bring it home and try to create as many outfits as possible. If you can’t make it work – return it.

Not knowing your colors

For some reason, this is often overlooked but it is an essential part of shopping. We can make a certain impression on other people through our attire. The colors of our clothes can either give the impression of a young and healthy person or someone who is tired and washed out, if the colors are wrong. Clothing colors compete with our natural skin colors and can make either a negative or positive impact. Defining the right colors for you is the very first thing an image consultant would do before consulting with you further.

Not knowing your shape

Sometimes the garment fits you well, color and quality are great too, but somehow it doesn’t look great. It either adds pounds or makes our figure unbalanced.

If you want to take your shopping to the next level, before your next shopping trip, figure out your shape (pear, apple, hourglass, etc.) and research the type of clothes that will look most flattering for your body type.

It is possible to create a beautiful and coordinated wardrobe with minimal things. It only takes a little bit of homework. To make it easier for you, I’ve provided a shopping card that stylists/personal shoppers use when working with clients. You can download it here (by signing up for my mailing list).

I hope this approach will inspire you to become a smarter shopper, not only for our planet, but also for your wallet!

Do you have any of these shopping struggles and how do you deal with them?

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