10 Questions to Ask Before Buying New Clothes


In the beginning of the year, I committed to becoming a more mindful consumer. Part of that means appreciating what you have and consuming less, but eventually the need or desire to buy something new will arise. This is especially true of my capsule wardrobe. A few weeks ago, I purged my winter wardrobe and narrowed down my closet to just the essentials. Although I feel like I have everything I need at this moment, this may change as my style evolves and my needs change. Responding to these changes with the right mindset will help make sure any new purchases I make are worthwhile. Here are 10 questions I’ll be asking myself before adding anything new to my capsule wardrobe.

  1. Do you have something like this already?

I am definitely guilty of buying the same or similar items over and over again, causing my fiancé to ask, “Don’t you already have something like that?” Owning multiples of a certain item can be a good thing if you know you need a few backups. But it can be a little less practical if you’re buying something slightly different every time because you’re not completely satisfied with the version you already own. Take the time to investigate the options and find something that’s exactly right. That way you won’t have to keep buying it until you find it.

  1. Will this work with your existing wardrobe?

    A new item doesn’t have to go with everything in your existing wardrobe, but it should be a good match for a handful of items. I like to think about remixing it a few different ways to make sure I’ll get a lot of use out of it. However, if the item only goes with one thing and that outfit is going to be very useful, than I’m not that worried about it. It’s just something to keep in mind.

  2. How much wear do you think you’ll get out of this?

    If the item is for a very specific purpose that doesn’t happen that often in your life it may be worth reconsidering. For example, you may not wear a ball gown very often. Can you rent it instead or borrow something from a friend? There are of course those special occasion items that you will wear whenever you’re invited to a wedding or New Year’s Eve Party. I always keep those items separate from my capsule wardrobe. I consider them a different category. But some things you just won’t get a lot of use out of and are not worth purchasing.

  3. Does this fit into your current lifestyle?

    I think about this question a lot when I make clothing purchases. There are a few lifestyle buckets I consider when buying knew clothing: work, every day, and going out. I try to think of how a new item might fit into an existing bucket. For example, now that my office is casual and allows us to wear jeans, I am not going to buy a bunch of pencil skirts and dresses. Those items wouldn’t fit my current lifestyle, and therefore, I probably wouldn’t get a lot of use out of them.

  4. Does this fit your personal style?

This is a hard one to define, but it’s very important if you’re trying to buy less stuff. Once you really know the answer to this question, you can eliminate options that aren’t right for you very easily. Try to come up with some words that help you describe your personal style. For example, a lot of what I wear is very preppy. If I’m buying something new, I usually ask myself, does this fit my preppy aesthetic?

  1. Is this flattering?

This is probably one of the most important questions. It boils down to does this item look good on you? And I mean, really good. If not, why are you buying it? If it doesn’t look good on you, chances are you’re never going to wear it. Right now I’m on the hunt for a pair of straight leg jeans. When they fit in the hip area, they look baggy everywhere else and not quite right. I so badly want to rock this trend, but if the fit is not right, I know I will never wear them. I’m going to keep looking, but at some point, I’ll have to move on if it isn’t working out.

  1. How long do you think it will last?

    This question is all about quality. You might find something super cute, but if you’re only going to get one wear out of it because of the poor quality, what’s the point? Look for natural fabrics, metal zippers, strong stitches as well as a good drape and fit.

  2. How long do you think this will be in style?

Some trends last a long time and are worth investing in. Others fade out quickly. If you think a trendy item is going to be out by next season, you may want to reconsider buying it, especially brand new.

  1. Can you get it secondhand?

This is the perfect transition to my next question. Some trends are not worth buying new, but you might be able to buy them secondhand. You can also buy quality investment pieces this way, but it takes patience. You need to do a lot of research on size and quality and know exactly what you want, especially if you are buying secondhand online. Some items are harder to find than others.

  1. Can you repurpose something you already own?

This involves shopping your own closet. Maybe you see an outfit someone else is wearing and feel inspired. Try looking in your own closet first to see if you can recreate it with pieces you already own before you try to buy something new. We often forget what’s in our own closet and immediately think we need to buy something new, but that’s not always the case. If you haven’t completed a capsule wardrobe yet, this may be especially hard. Try to think of what’s hiding in your closet that you’re not appreciating.

Avoiding unnecessary purchases is one of the many benefits of creating a capsule wardrobe. By narrowing down your closet to just the essentials, you can see what you have and what you’re missing. And because you’ve narrowed it down to only the things you wear, you likely have the building blocks for most outfits right in your closet. That means you can take your time, relax, and purchase slowly.

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