A MINIMALIST'S GUIDE TO PREVENT OVER-SHOPPING (FOR THOSE OF US WHO LOVE TO SHOP)
I have a confession to make.
I love to shop. I love it.
I have always been interested in fashion, and as I got older, beauty and haircare became additional obsessions.
But I am a minimalist.
Wait, you say, that doesn't make any sense. Well, yes and no. I took a long time to come up with my capsule closet, because I wanted to create a collection that was perfect for me.
If I was going to commit to a smaller wardrobe, then I wanted to feel beautiful and grounded in what I wore every single day, and each piece in my closet needed to go with several other items for it to stay.
Since I was so picky, I did a lot of shopping, a lot of returning, and a lot of selling.
But even now, I still get emotional over a beautiful piece I see in the window.
i had to learn to prevent over-shopping
I define over-shopping as buying without reference to what you already own or without taking into consideration how it brings meaning to your life. Over-shopping is more in line with buying for the sheer pleasure of possession rather than meaning.
It took me a long time to get the hang of this (read this). I was so used to having a huge wardrobe and snatching new pieces left and right that it was hard to resist the temptation to fall back into those habits.
My dedication to minimalism started to work when I separated the emotion from shopping. Not to say I'm a robot in a retail store, but I have become much more rational about my purchases.
Let me define my version of minimalism first
Before I get into the specifics of how I prevent over-shopping, let me clarify something about minimalism: it's subjective.
I don't think minimalism means leading a lifestyle of complete restriction. I'm passionate about fashion and makeup, so I still have more than the bare minimum. I am not that person who's pinning photos of my ten-item closet. It's not me, and that's never going to happen.
You can be a minimalist and have a big wardrobe (whatever big means to you). I got rid of the bulk of my clothes and shoes because I felt I didn't wear most of them enough to justify hanging onto them. I felt that I didn't appreciate what I had and was constantly searching for new items to make me feel good about myself.
Minimalism to me was more a study in being comfortable with myself and finding my power outside of what fashion trends told me I needed.
I also realized that while I was hoarding clothes, there were people out there who didn't have the means to get what I had. Instead of selling most of my items, I donated them.
The point is: minimalism is different for all of us. Some people do make great use of a larger closet, but that's not me. When I speak of over-shopping and minimalism, I'm not telling you to limit your clothes to a certain number.
I'm saying to focus on the use and meaning of each item you bring into your home. I find minimalism is about only bringing things into your life that are valuable on a consistent basis and make you feel good.
all right: here's a checklist to go through to help prevent over-shopping
The following are a list of questions I use when I do feel I'm getting emotional, or if I feel I'm in danger of purchasing something I don't need. This list can be applied to just about everything, bot just shopping.
1. can i afford this?
I know this may be an obvious question, but emotions have a way of making us ignore the practical side of life. What's your current budget? Can you afford this purchase? If not, can you save enough in the near future? Is it worth the time and energy to do so?
2. Do I already have something like this?
The nice thing about having a smaller wardrobe is that I can recall every piece of clothing I have. If you find something you're dying to buy, think of what you have first.
Is there something like this already in your closet? Do I own something with the same or similar color, style, cut, pattern, fabric, details, embellishments, etc.?
If something in your wardrobe answers positive to any of the above questions, do you really think you'll find this new piece useful or unique?
3. What would I wear this with?
Go through your closet again. Pick out five outfits that you can make with the piece you want to buy. Can you do it? Is the piece too specific to pair with multiple items? Are you okay with a piece you can only wear with one outfit, or do you want more variety? Does this new piece force you to buy additional clothes to make it work?
If it doesn't fit with what you already have, then perhaps consider spending your money elsewhere.
4. is it high quality + convenient?
I have been the victim of purchasing items that were gorgeous on the rack, but one wash later completely fell apart. Take the time to really get to know the piece. Check the make up of the item. What material is it made out of? How does it wash? Is it easy to take care of? Does it have to be dry-cleaned? Is the material worth the price?
5. is it in line with my ethical fashion views?
Remember to check the make up of the item: if you have specific ethical views, does the clothing item match those?
For me, I will not buy any clothing item that is made of any material that comes from animals (leather, wool, etc.), and I'm slowly recycling my shoes out for vegan products. No matter how pretty something is, if it doesn't fit the bill, then it's not getting bought.
6. why do i need this right now?
Really. Sometimes it just takes a little perspective. Why does the clothing item make you so emotional? What about it makes you want it right now? Do you actually need it?
7. is it actually me, or do i like the idea of it?
Is the clothing item something you will actually wear? It's easy to say yes when you're emotional about it, but think back to your current wardrobe. Does it match your pattern on buying and your current style? Will you be comfortable in it? Or is it the idea of what the item represents that makes you want it?
I've bought items before because I've liked the way they looked on the mannequin. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but it wasn't actually my style. I liked the idea of whatever the style on the mannequin represented, but didn't think whether or not it would make me feel beautiful or comfortable.
8. is it a transitional piece?
Part of building my capsule wardrobe involved selecting pieces that were extremely versatile and transitional. Most in my closet can be paired to be worn throughout the year, except for specific season pieces like heavy sweaters.
When you're considering buying a new clothing item, it might be helpful to think about how you could use the piece throughout the year. Does it transition? Does it work for different season? Or will you only be able to wear it for a few more months?
9. still undecided? Walk away
Go home and think on it. Compare it with what you already have. You may even forget about the piece in a few days. Otherwise, if it's that important, you'll remember it.
FURTHER READING: WHY I BECAME A MINIMALIST (AND YOU SHOULD, TOO)
How do handle shopping as a minimalist?