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How to buy less clothing: a simple Guide

September 22, 2020 2 Comments

I started this year off with a low/no buy, and shared my strategies for how I was planning to stick to it in this post.

After successfully carrying it out for the first half of the year, I thought I’d do an updated post and share 3 practical tips and 3 theoretical tips that I’ve found the most helpful.

3 Practical tips

These are the easy tips you can implement right now, to see a difference in your spending almost immediately.

Unsubscribe and unfollow

Email marketing works. Even if you delete most of the emails you get from brands, are you truly able to say you’ve been able to resist every discount code and promotion that comes your way?

After I unsubscribed from all email marketing, my temptation to shop was significantly reduced. When I finished my low/no buy, I re-subscribed to some new, sustainable fashion brands I had discovered…and my temptation to shop shot right back up! I’m much happier supporting sustainable brands, but I know the next time I embark on a low/no buy, I’ll have to unsubscribe if I want to stick to it.

I also recommend unfollowing brands and influencers on social media if you realize that you tend to continuously buy the products they’re pushing. Don’t get me wrong – I have made some of my most worthwhile purchases because influencers have done the research, tested the products, and thoughtfully shared their honest opinions. But that’s not always the case. I used to follow some influencers who made their living on “haul” videos, and I would occasionally feel tempted to jump on the train and buy into the newest, coolest trends. This is bad on so many levels (for my wallet, for the environment, for the quality of my wardrobe and overall style…I could go on). Unfollowing them has made a big difference in the kind of content I consume, and how it affects my shopping habits.

Set up an automated transfer

This has probably been the most effective strategy for me. I am positively allergic to debt. So by setting up an automated transfer from my chequing to my savings/investments account after each paycheque, I eliminated the possibility of shopping. I won’t spend money I don’t have.

Financial planners and coaches call this “paying yourself first”. I’ve always been a diligent saver, but I wish I had started this so much earlier in life!

Stop mindlessly browsing

I’m the most guilty of this, because I genuinely love shopping. I love seeing what different brands are putting out there, and how they’re styling their collections each season. Admiring the craftsmanship of shoes, the rich hues of leather bags, the delicate flow of silky scarves…it’s less about the acquisition of the piece, and more about the appreciation of the form. However. All that admiration can occasionally lead me to the checkout lane.

I’ve had to make a conscious effort to stop browsing, and distract myself with something else. Whether that’s putting on a podcast, picking up a new book (I’m at 35 now for the year, so that’s been a good distraction tactic!), or texting a friend.

3 Theoretical Tips

These tips take a bit more time to implement, because they involve shifting your entire mindset. Old habits die hard, but by asking yourself the questions below, and including more sustainable style content into your feed, you’ll find yourself slowly leaving that shopping addiction behind.

Ask why

Yes, it is cheesy, but we often don’t consider this question before making a purchase.

Ask yourself why you’re drawn to the item. Do you need it? Are you bored? Are you stressed? Retail therapy is real!

Are you noticing a pattern of the type of item you’re drawn to? For example, I used to buy the same striped shirt over and over for no other reason than I love striped shirts. But I don’t need 10 of them!

Try to figure out the true reason you want to make the purchase. Maybe you really do just need some good old fashion retail therapy! Or maybe you’ve carefully considered a gap in your wardrobe, and this item will help elevate your outfits and make getting dressed easier.

Ask yourself why first, so that if you do end up making the purchase, you’ll make a more concerted effort to make use of what you’ve bought. And if you realize you don’t have a compelling enough reason to purchase, then you’ve saved yourself some $$$.

Ask How

This is the most impactful question for me – how will this item make me feel after I’ve purchased it?

In the moment, shopping feels great. Omg, my eyes go glassy when I think about the perfect rush of finding an item I’ve been coveting all season, in my size, ON SALE! I hit add to cart so fast, you’d think I was competing in shopping Olympics.

But then afterwards…that sinking feeling. Was it worth however much I spent? If you ask me nowadays, I can tell you confidently – yes! I’ve shifted my mindset in how I purchase, so it’s much more infrequent. But in my early 20s, I didn’t have quite as much restraint. I have no regrets, but I do remember that gross feeling after having made a reckless purchase.

Avoid this by asking yourself how you’ll feel in a month, or a year. Will this item still have the same impact in your wardrobe?

Get Educated

Getting all philosophical about my shopping habits made a big difference in my life, but what really kept me committed to my low/no buy was educating myself on the true cost the fashion industry has on the environment.

I knew reading a couple of books and articles wasn’t going to keep me in the sustainable style mindset, so I also subscribed to relevant podcasts, followed content creators who take sustainability into account with their style posts, and started checking online publications committed to sustainability.

If you’re looking for some resources to get started, check out this post I put together on the topic!

I hope this post was helpful! I’d love to know if you have any tips on how to shop less 🙂 Thank you so much for reading! Xox


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  • Laura September 23, 2020 at 12:34 pm

    These are great tips! Huge believer in unsubscribing from e-mail marketing b/c it just creates this false sense of urgency and feeling like you’re missing out on a deal-of-a-lifetime for something you didn’t need. Thanks for sharing 🙂 Xox

    • jocelyncaithness October 8, 2020 at 11:58 am

      Yes, the false sense of urgency has led me to many an impulse purchase!!

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    About Me

    About Me

    Hi, Friend!

    I'm Jocelyn: a daydreamer and fashion lover disguised as a finance professional. My head may be in the clouds, but my stilettos are firmly planted on the ground ;)

    Jocelyn Caithness

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