5 questions to ask yourself before you buy something new
It's so easy to buy new clothes without thinking, and yet so many of us own clothes that sit in our wardrobes, never to see the light of day until they're bundled up into a bag and shipped off to a charity shop. High-street brands often hold low-levels of stock with a quick turnaround of new trends, encouraging us to 'buy it now or miss out'. While there's the undeniable thrill of buying something new, as Eco-Age founder Livia Firth comments "[f]ast fashion is like fast food, after the sugar rush it just leaves a bad taste in your mouth". Yep. On the other hand, taking time to think before we buy something new has a lot of benefits - no more impulse purchases, no more money wasted on clothes we won't wear, less trips to the charity shop and much better for the planet.
Ask yourself these 5 simple questions before you make your next purchase:
1. Do I need this?
Go through your wardrobe and take an inventory. While you're doing it, write down a list of the things you'd like to add. Clothes shopping can be a bit like food shopping; you enter the store knowing you only need a couple of things but before you know it you've been blind-sided by 3-for-1 deals all over the place and end up leaving with 5 bags full of snacks and nothing for dinner. Making a list and sticking to it will keep you focused and help avoid unnecessary impulse buys.
2. How much will I wear it?
Ask yourself: Will I wear this at least 30 times? Will I still want to wear it next year? Fast fashion is based on planned obsolescence, which means clothes are quickly considered 'out of fashion' -sometimes in a matter of weeks. Don't fall for trends unless you're buying something you'll want to keep on wearing. If you need something new for a one-off occasion, consider borrowing, swapping, or buying second-hand instead.
3. Does it fit?
This might seem like a bit of an obvious one, but don't buy something that doesn't fit! Buying clothes that comfortably fit your shape and size means you'll feel better (and look better) wearing them, which means you'll probably wear them more often (see question no. 2). Forget the bargain price, forget how good it'll look once you lose 'x' amount of weight - a bargain isn't a bargain if it never gets worn. Think about how a new item will fit into your wardrobe too, can it be worn with other clothes you already own?
4. Why am I shopping?
In a recent edition of Elle magazine Naomi Klein discussed the reasons behind our ever-increasing levels of consumerism, commenting that "...in many cases, we're shopping for things other than what we are buying."
Ask yourself why you're shopping. Are you bored? Emotional? Stressed? Hungry? Do you just need a hug? Instead of going for that sneaky hit of instant gratification, Klein suggests we focus on trying try filling the voids with things that last, noting that "[w]hen we're more connected to each other and to nature, we're in a much stronger position to buy what we genuinely need and what we want."
Which brings us to our last question...
4. How much do I really want this?
Will you still want to buy this tomorrow? Next week? If you think you simply must have this new [insert item of clothing], try taking a breather to see if you change your mind. Go for a coffee, or sleep on it. If you do really want something, you'll still want it in an hour, a day, a week. Rediscover the joy of anticipation. It'll be worth the wait.