Productive Shopping for Fall

Typically, when Professional Organizers write about closets and clothing they talk about de-cluttering and organizing the actual closet space. But, since my focus is also on productivity I take a little different approach and try to stop the clutter before it even makes it into your closet and nip time wasting habits that revolve around clothing before you even buy something.

Here are some my personal shopping "rules" that I have developed over many years. They not only save money, but also all the time that is spent on purchasing, cleaning, and eventually purging clothing. And, yes it really is true... I am 37 and don't know how iron!

Step one, of course is to make room before you shop for new items. This is the basic stuff all those other organizers talk about all the time. Just imagine that everything your closet fit and felt just like that favorite outfit you always go to when you want to feel and look your best!

Go though all your current clothing and ask yourself these questions:

  • Does this item fit the lifestyle and image I am striving for?
  • Does this literally fit the body that I have right now?
  • Does this clothing item give me any bad memories or feelings?
  • Am I just keeping it because it was a gift?
  • Did I buy this just because it was on sale?
  • Is this item stained, torn, missing a button? (Best to just let these items go, if you really loved the item you would have repaired it by now!)
  • Have I worn this in the last 6 months? (Last 12 months for seasonal items like ski boots)

Remember, we only use about 20% of what we have - it is time to make room for clothing items you absolutely love and that support the lifestyle you want right NOW!

Here are my new "rules" for you to apply when you are shopping from now on:

  1. When you are going through the de-cluttering steps above be sure to create a list of all those items that you need. What pieces do you love in your closet but don't have anything that goes with them? Write down everything you need to make those items work for you and get worn.

  2. Consider having your colors done by a professional. For this small investment you could save thousands of dollars on mistake purchases that just don't look good with your hair and skin tones. Most color professionals will even give you a small chart of your ideal colors that are perfect for you so you can carry around with you while you shop.

  3. Never purchase anything because it is on sale! You are not saving money! Money is still leaving your account here (even if it is a lesser amount). If you wouldn't pay full price for an item don't just purchase it because it costs less now. You may value this item less. It was discounted for a reason right? Is the fad over for this style? Is it a return from someone else? Did no one want it in the first place? Is it damaged in any way? Don't tell yourself you can just fix it - you won't make the time.

  4. Don't purchase anything that must be dry cleaned. How much time and money does it cost you caring for this item over their useful life? Add that to the cost of the clothing article and see if that amount is still worth it. For example, let's say that you purchase a dress for $97 that needs to be dry cleaned every two weeks at $4 per week. If the dress lasts you 3 years that is about $288 in just the care of the dress! Not to mention the chemicals that are used in dry cleaning and the time spent taking it to the cleaners and picking it up.

  5. Don't purchase anything that needs ironing. How much of your life has wasted away over a hot iron? With all the new fabrics available, there is no reason to buy things that need to be ironed. There may be one exception, and that is button down dress shirts for men, but this should be outsourced, it is not worth your time, don't do it yourself!

  6. Purchase quality not quantity. How much different do you feel when you just fall in love with an article of clothing and save up for it even if it is too expensive? You cherish it and wear it a lot more than those 25 tops you got on sale and in every color. Again, if you wouldn't pay full price for an item don't purchase it on sale either. Your image and presence will shift if you are wearing something you are proud to own.

  7. Try to purchase from designers that tend to create designs that mix and match from season to season. CAbi and Kika Paprika clothing are great examples of lines that you can add a few pieces each season that mix and match with the previous one.

  8. Take items to be altered immediately after purchase. I mean right when you are driving home from the boutique! Make one stop and get everything tailored right when you are excited about the purchase so these items will be wearable sooner and won't become a decoration for that chair in your bedroom for weeks!

  9. Purchase items that fit your body right now. I am not talking about things that need to be hemmed here. I am talking about those items you may have bought and said "Oh, this will fit great when I loose 10 pounds." Don't do it! You will have a constant reminder every time you open your closet that you haven't met your goal weight yet. Better to loose the weight and reward yourself with the new outfit then.

  10. Don't forget that accessories can change the whole look of an outfit and allow you to get more wears out of the same clothing item. Go for quality here too - not the pieces that will turn your skin green, break easily, or something that you will always be fidgeting with. Are you on the phone all day? Then maybe don't stock up on big clunky earrings.

  11. If you have been a impulse shopper or someone who has succumbed to retail therapy in the past, slow down and take a moment to realize what is going on in your life that drives you to Nordstrom every Saturday. Are you avoiding your spouse? Are you unhappy with your career? Are you just bored? Stop and think why you feel the urge to go and spend the money you worked so hard for - if you truly don't need anything. Then, when you find yourself in the car driving to the store or clicking on that Macy's sale email, stop and do another activity that is enjoyable to you and is counter-intuitive to the overspending shopping behavior. For example, maybe you like traveling. You can explore a website about a place you've always dreamed of going, see how much it would cost to actually go, and then move some of your impulse shopping dollars over to the lifetime experience category in your budget. This will get you excited about something else to distract your shopping and get one of those experiences off your bucket list at the same time.

  12. Take a moment before you go shopping to envision the lifestyle you are either living right now or that you are striving after. What type of clothing would that person need? Do you need stylish work-at-home clothes? Are you about to go on the dating market again and need attractive clothes for dinners out? Are you wanting to take up yoga or tennis? What types of clothing would you need if you were going after speaking gigs? Take a moment and think about the activities and goals you will be doing now and in the future. Dress the part for that lifestyle now, even if you aren't quite there yet and you will magically start attracting those experiences.

Your clothes are one of the first things people notice about you which creates their opinion of who you are. I am not saying that this is the nice or correct thing to do to a person but it is true and you want to put your best self you can out there to attract the opportunities and relationships you deserve. You also don't want to be a servant to your clothes letting life pass you by as you are taken to the cleaners... literally. So, from now on no more impulsive, mindless shopping trips. Shop with intention and purpose and free yourself from being a slave to fashion.

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