August 31, 2018
The entire purpose of the garment industry is to tempt you to buy things that you don’t need. I think we can agree that we are far past the point of saying that they exist to make sure that we’re all appropriate attired for the weather and our social environment. Most people have far more clothes that they’ll ever need!
But sometimes, you do want to buy something new. Maybe just a refresh to your existing wardrobe, or a treat because you deserve one. There’s nothing wrong with this thinking, in moderation – so long as it IS thinking, and not just an emotional response.
So how to know?
Let’s say that you’ve seen a cardigan that you really love. REALLY love…
First thing is to determine if the colors of the garment are right for you, and then secondly if the style of the garment reflect your personal style – or maybe is a style direction in which you wish to move.
After you’ve determined that the garment suits you, you need to make sure that this isn’t a duplicate in your wardrobe. It’s not wrong to have a couple of pieces that serve the same purpose, but you don’t really need to have 6 or 7 grey cardigans, do you?
If you’re STILL looking at this object of your desire, start imagining how you’re going to wear it? Can you go dressy?
isn’t this a delicious dress?
Maybe you can take the dressiness level down a notch and see how you fare:
Maybe 2 outfits is really all you need to justify the purchase, but don’t discount the possibility of how a nice sweater will look with dress pants:
Maybe more casual pants? In cold weather, nothing’s more fun (to me) than pulling out corduroy; I love corduroy…
At this point, if you haven’t decided to go ahead and buy your current crush, I don’t know WHAT you’re waiting for! But just in case, let’s see if this sweater works well with jeans:
Maybe you don’t need to go through this level of analysis before you make every purchase, but this kind of thinking can save money and those annoying shopping errors!
Taste of France says
You always have good advice, so I read this even though I didn’t like this particular cardigan. However, with the outfits you showed, it grew on me, and you actually convinced me it would be a good idea!
Chris from Indy says
Another winner, Janice. You have an analytical bent that makes sense to me.
What if the object of desire is a change up from our heroine’s current style/color palette? This is a lovely classic cardigan in (obviously) a colorway already very familiar to our heroine.
When do we know that something DOESN’T work?
I love your closet clean out articles where you take apart a closet that doesn’t function and figure out why. If you could, I would love to see how to stop those mistakes from being purchased in the first place.
Thanks again Janice!
(Yes, the dress is fantastic… am off to take an upclose look at it.)
Margie from Toronto says
I worked my way through this dilemma just this past week. I allow myself one new cardigan each year when the new Fall colours arrive – usually a cashmere one from Lord & Taylor. (I own at least 3 dozen sweaters so 1 addition is more than enough). Now, I take a plus size in sweaters – and while I know that they don’t offer as many colour options in the plus sizes – this year’s offerings are particularly thin on the ground (pun intended). I already own lots of black, grey and navy sweaters so the one colour that caught my eye was a deep, bright mauve pink (which would have gone well in the “Asters” post). It is very pretty but I hesitated and decided to think on it a bit more. I already own 2 cashmere and 1 cotton/wool cardigan in various shades of pink so do I really need another? Given that this is a brighter colour than I usually wear, plus it was a v-neck pullover rather than a cardigan, I’ve decided that it’s not for me – at least not for now. In a few months time when I’m a bit tired of my Fall clothes and it’s on for 50% off I might be tempted. But for now I’ve decided that it really isn’t necessary, even to update things a bit. In years past I would have snapped it up without thinking but after reading your blog for so many years I now really think about purchases in a lot more detail – so thank you Janice.
I’m waiting for those Lord and Taylor cashmere sweaters to go on sale as well; should be soon, have my eye on a couple of colours. Wish they had a nice dark navy though…what they call navy is just dark blue.
I actually like the cardigan both my style and colours and worn with those grey cords, roll neck jumper and desert boots is just so me. I also like the way it can be worn with different shades of red and grey thus notching up its versatility. I would have liked to have seen one or two pieces in the off-white, which actually looks like a blush pink on my monitor – either way I’d imagine both colours working well with this cardigan.
Bye the way, I echo the same issue as Chris re: knowing when not to buy because it won’t work with what you’ve already got. Would love some more articles on ‘cleaning/sorting out closets’. Thanks Janice.
This is very timely, as I’m trying to decide whether to keep the things I recently ordered from Uniqlo and Eddie Bauer. I’m starting to see how keeping the thing that’s close to, but not exactly, what I’m looking for just leads to more shopping. In the past I would always keep things that fit well, but I sometimes couldn’t figure out why I didn’t wear them. Several of the items I’m considering are so close—but I think I’ll send them back. It’s worth waiting for clothes that actually fulfill the purpose I had in mind for them.
I love your quote “I’m starting to see how keeping the thing that’s close to, but not exactly, what I’m looking for just leads to more shopping.” That’s EXACTLY how it is, because of course we never really settle and give up, but continue to search for the right piece…
Yes! I have been having this same discussion with myself. I just ordered two dresses from different designers to fill a big gap in my wardrobe – dresses for between seasons. The first dress (Gudrun Sjoden) was pretty good. The color was great, the style was right, but for reasons I couldn’t articulate it was only pretty good. The second dress (Eileen Fisher) came the next day and the minute I tried it on, I knew it was a keeper. There was just some indefinable something about it that made me happy to have it on. So I’m sending back the first dress.
If I hadn’t seen the second dress, I might well have kept the first one and it would have been a big mistake. ‘Good enough’ is not actually good enough, it seems. Never to old to learn something.
Hi there Ladies!
I think by going about a possible new purchase the way Janice spelled it out, it will become very obvious very soon whether something will or will not work – I mean, at least for me it used to be exactly those impulse buys that got me in trouble ;o))))) It’s like when falling in love, one should figure out whether it’s just a fling or a potential long term relationship… ;o))) I mostly have to pay close attention to whether a new piece really has the right color or not – in the past that often was the reason why things wouldn’t go together after all. For example, right now I’m very much interested in getting a burgundy jeans skirt that I saw online. It has the same cut as my blue denim skirt, so I know all the tops that go with that skirt will go with the new one. I also have burgundy colored jeans, ankle boots, overknee boots, two purses (one big, one small) and quite some scarf collection with burgundy in it. So I’ve come to think that the new skirt will only REALLY work when it’s THE RIGHT burgundy! Of course I could buy it and only wear it with a black sweater and black boots – but that’s exactly the kind of limitation I don’t want to create any more. If I can wear my burgundy overknee boots with it, I can wear ANY color on top and have much more use for it. So I will order it online very soon and check it out.
Regards from Germany, Mona
Linda M says
I’m struggling with temptation just now. Two things, both would be good in my wardrobe. A poncho – I’ve never had one, and it would be lovely for travelling, but I can’t see myself wearing it any other time. Also, a hoody – borg lined, jersey cotton outer. I suspect the top cotton layer would shrink, and the polyester lining would not. I’m pretty sure I would regret buying these items, so why do I keep thinking about them? I think I’ll promise myself I can have them if they are still there at sale time, because usually, when sale time comes around, I’ve lost interest! Linda M
Ah Linda, buy the poncho!!! ;o)))) I got talked into one last fall by a very able salesperson selling me a beautiful black dress. She brought me the matching poncho, and I said that it looked really nice with the dress, but that I wouldn’t be able to wear it any other time. I still remember her eyes getting really big und really surprised, and then she said: “But you can wear it ALL the time! On days that are still warm enough that you don’t need a jacket, but just a dress feels a little bit cool, on colder days you can still wear the thinner jackets and the poncho on top of the jacket, finally in winter UNDERNEATH the thick coat for extra warmth and snuggliness!” She was so convincing that I bought the poncho (black with a grey stripe), wore it like crazy and ended up buying two more in the course of winter: a taupe one and a very dressy one for New Year’s Eve that is black and has a copper metallic border and looks extremely elegant. BUY THE PONCHO!!! ;o)))))
Linda McKie says
Oh Mona, you are so naughty! You are right, I could wear it all those times! This is a little bit like culottes, when they first came back into fashion, I thought, never! But in the end bought three pairs, and I love them. Linda M
So funny, because I felt the same way about culottes and haven’t bought one yet – but really grew to like them a lot. Maybe in spring… ;o))))
You’re right about the borg lined hoodie. I got one and it was awful. It’s really hard to get on and off , leaves lint on your clothes, creates static and dishevels your clothing. And yes, the layers wash differently.
Timely post. I just finished Konmari-ing my clothes. Next up, selecting my 333 for fall. A common mistake for me is buying something that fits (size and color) but that I don’t love.
Linda McKie says
I have done that, bought things for my wardrobe, rather than for me. Linda M
My pitfall, too. I warn myself not to buy clothes for my clothes!
Oh, golly! This article was not for me! You see, I loved all the combinations so much that I’d like to go right to the computer and order every single thing. Arrrrgh!
I’ll be ok. I’ll be ok. I’ll be ok….
Mary The Pouting Pensioner says
Such a good post, Janice, you’ve laid out the thought process for us! These are all the angles we need to cover … and then sometimes I’m just head over heels smitten! Hugs. X.
Holly T Hiatt says
This was GREAT! You do wonderful posts. I vote more of these.
I find that I can perform this type of analysis best if I look at the garment and try to talk myself OUT of buying it. I’ve decided to be extremely picky about the neckline (must be a v-neck), the sleeves (the part that rests on my shoulders must be 4-4/12″ wide) the length (must be 26 -32 inches to cover my potbelly and go no farther than my hips), and it must be in my jewel toned color pallatte. These are my standards based on measurements that will ensure a good fit for my figure and I’ve decided to settle for nothing less. I’m a seamstress and I can make most anything and ensure a great fit. So if I’m going to spend money on ready-to-wear it needs to fit as good as I can make it myself!
Carol S says
Great post and amazing discussion. I think it is good to ‘think’ about your purchases. I have lots of clothes in lots of colours. A while ago I decided to ‘shop my wardrobe’ and not buy. Perhaps buy neutrals only – learnt from VF. This is working for me. I have even sorted my clothes and scarves into plastic tubs, Yellows, oranges, reds, purples, blues, greens and achromatic (blacks, greys and whites). That was when I took a deep breath and knew I just had to wear what I had. Now each week (7 week cycle) I change the colours that I wear. This week it is purples and next week oranges. I now have amazing variety and do not get tired of the clothes I wear. Also means to a large extent I am wearing all the clothes in my wardrobe and not a small percent of it. Hugs to community!
Carol S, this sounds like a great idea and so much fun. You have a lot of fun colorful capsules and no boredom!
In my mind I count for instance all grey bottoms as one item, all dark red tops as one item. So in my mind several outfits shown – are all the same outfit.
I only change the seasonality of particular items for example grey shorts and dark red short sleeved linen top. It is the function of the item, it is like the slot in the matrix, for example 16 pcs matrix (or any other). Several items fit the purpose of a single slot, they are variation in dressiness / seasonality. I hope I managed to explain.
And yeah, I already picked up my autumn colors so I must resist the temptation!! Gray must wait the winter. Gray must wait the winter. :)
Very intresting ideas for my old striped cardigan, that I wouldn’t invent myself in a million years – I didn’t wear it since I didn’t know how. Now I only need to substitute other colors and find matching items from my existing autumn capsule. Brilliant.
Thank you so much
Thanks Janice. What a fabulous post. This has just helped me decide a. NOT to make a purchase that would leave me with a style dilemma and b. to be on the lookout for particular items! Well done!
I applied the wardrobing technique in this post to a burnt orange cardigan I have, and discovered I already have a great capsule wardrobe for Fall already in my closet! I will just need a camisole and a couple of accessories to finish pulling together my brown/ivory/black/gold/burnt orange pieces. I am sooooo excited! Thank you Janice!