Four Short Mental Notes on Clothes Shopping

Like many women in Singapore, I love clothes. I used to buy at least a piece of clothing every month. Like many people who love fashion, I would give myself excuses that I needed that piece of clothing because the other one I bought didn’t fit right. I needed to buy this item in order to match with the other item in my closet and the list went on. These excuses ended up costing me between as little as $40 to as much as $300 a month. And while some might choose to put the blame on fast fashion and poor quality items, the items I bought were often of good quality.

It was only after countless videos educating me that clothes aka the fashion industry was near the top of the list of the most environmentally polluting industries together with the oil industry that I started to become more aware of my actions. But perhaps the most compelling push for me was of course due to budget constraints.

While many low-buy or no-buy content creaters on YouTube advocate different methods to stop shopping, I put together 4 short mental rules to help the avid Singaporean shopper when it comes to clothes. Because efficiency is part of our language.

1. Do I like this piece of clothing instinctively?

Back in the day, I used to buy my clothes from physical shops. I would walk in the shop and if nothing stuck out to me I would be out of the shop within 5 minutes. So for those of you who still shop in physical shops this could be useful for you. If you find yourself examining a product, trying to convince yourself why you should buy the product then it is probably not for you. Remember, always trust your intuition. Think of clothes as like building a relationship. If you are trying to convince yourself why that person is right for you even if your intuition isn’t saying anything then its probably good to spend less time selling and move on. If you like something because the emotion felt kind of instinctive, try it on and apply the following mental rules before proceeding with a purchase.

2. Is this a need or a want? Are there other existing substitutes?

This is perhaps the most fundamental question of all. Is it a need or want? Does this piece of clothing add value to my life and in what ways? Is there a specific occasion that I need to use this piece of clothing for? Would I continue to use this piece of clothing even after that special dinner, birthday celebration or wedding? What are the alternatives? Go ahead to beg and borrow. If you are able to think and find alternatives to your problem of need then perhaps you are able to reframe your need as a want. And you probably don’t “need” to buy that item.

3. Do I see myself keeping this piece of clothing for the next three to five years because I really like it a lot?

Recall earlier on in point one, I pointed out that purchasing an item is like building a relationship right? Well let’s continue with that point. Are you able to see yourself wearing this product constantly in the next three to five years?

While I would spend a sizeable amount of my money on clothes each month, I did have a handful of clothes that were part of my wardrobe in the last five to seven years. A lot of this had to do with the quality and fit of the product. Often times, products of poor quality or fit would not make it past the one-year mark even though I was bolted to buy it because I liked it instinctively or even due to the fact that I really needed it.

4. How am I feeling right now?

Last and most important mental note of all is to ask yourself how you are really feeling right now. Understand that the decisions that we make, no matter what they are, are often driven by emotions. In the past, I used to spend a lot of money on clothes because I felt insecure about my image in the professional world and also due to the fact that I was unhappy being in that job. Receiving packages in the mail, especially when it came to clothes, felt like I was gifting myself something, and I love gifts. But that excitement would last me until the second time I wore that outfit and then that feeling often became old and I would soon tire of it.

If you are feeling down that day, it is perhaps not the best idea to swipe your card to purchase something. There are so many other ways to feel better like talking to someone or exercising that would make you feel better without you needing to spend any money. On that note, if you are feeling particularly excited and feel like you want to celebrate, think about other ways of celebrating your achievements and it doesn’t have to be about buying something in the spur of the moment.

What are your own no-buy/low-buy habits? Comment below or email them to me, I would love to know them!

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