Why I didn’t buy that cute top that was on sale!

A few weeks ago, when the shops were opening up in my hometown, I was out browsing with my friend. We both love consignment and thrift shops, so we set out to visit those first.

I had some summer items on my wish list that I was looking for. A linen dress, a skirt, and maybe a new top or two. Really I just want to be comfortable this year.

My friend brought over a super cute navy and white breton stripe tank for me. Not only was the top really cute, but it was also on sale! I took it into consideration. It was only going to be about $9 after the discount was taken. I would be silly to pass up on such a deal, right? I decided against purchasing the shirt.

Let me tell you why.

The striped tank top just did not check enough of my boxes that help guide my purchase decision. Before I make any clothing purchase, I ask myself these questions:

  • Will this piece go with the other items I already own?
    • I tend to wear mostly black and white as my base neutrals. I have slowly added in a few accent colors into my wardrobe, but I do not own anything in navy blue anymore. Since that color is not included in my wardrobe normally, I know I would have a hard time finding different ways to wear it.
  • Will this piece serve me across multiple seasons?
    • This question is difficult when it comes to summer pieces. I only buy tank tops that I can see myself layering with a sweater or jacket in the fall and spring seasons. Since most of my sweaters and jackets are black, green, or cream in color, the navy tank did not pass this test.
  • Would I buy this piece if it were not on sale?
    • If the answer is ‘no’, I usually automatically pass on the item. This tells me that I do not need this item, and that it’s most likely just an impulse purchase.
  • Would I buy the ethically made version of this piece?
    • Again, if the answer is ‘no’, then I usually will pass on this item. If I am not willing to spend more money on an ethically made version of a product, I should not be buying the product in the first place. This tank top, though it was cute, would not be one I would purchase at full price ethically made. This is not a good purchase for me.
  • Would I get at least 30 wears from this piece?
    • 30 is not a magic number for determining how much I like a piece (though it helps). The number 30 gives me perspective. 30 wears may not seem like a lot at first, but you would be surprised how many times you ACTUALLY wear your clothes before you get rid of them (hint- its usually much less than 30). The number 30 tells me that I need to choose pieces that will last. The piece needs to be a style that I will continue reaching for over and over again (why I tend not to buy trendy pieces), and it needs to be high quality enough to endure many washes and wears. If my answer is ‘no’ to any of the “30 wears” criteria, the piece stays at the store and does not come home with me.
  • Does the piece fit the way I want it to?
    • This may seem like an obvious question, but I couldn’t tell you how many times I bought something that was on sale even though it didn’t fit right. I did this a lot in high school. I wanted to wear what my friends wore, and I wanted the size on the tag to make me feel good. Take Hollister for example. Even as a high schooler, I knew that the brand was notorious for running small. I’ve been a size medium in most brands since I was 12 years old. When I went to Hollister, I would wear the size medium clothes, but they always felt way too snug on me. Did I ever think to size up? Not my dumb high schooler brain. I was buying for the tags and the logo, not the fit. More often than not, I would buy the t-shirt or camisole, wear it a couple times, and it would be left at the bottom of my dresser drawer for many years to come. If I had only sized up, maybe I would have liked those clothes better. Clearly, I am way past my Hollister phase, so I am willing to try sizing up so that I can get the fit and comfot I want from a garment. If you don’t like the fit, don’t buy it!
  • Does this piece fit my lifestyle?
    • I am a teacher. I have the summers off. I want to be a mom someday. I don’t go to a lot of fancy events. If my clothes don’t fit into my lifestyle, I won’t be purchasing it. There will be no more hunts for dresses that I could wear to a wedding… Truth be told, I already have a lot of those, and they already don’t get worn enough.

I left the consignment shop with a different top that day. I found a great linen button down that fits right into my current wardrobe. If I bought the navy tank, I honestly don’t think I would’ve even worn it yet weeks later.

All this to say, making purchase decisions is not always easy. I ask myself a lot of questions before making each fashion purchase. Honestly, I’m going to mess up. Sometimes I don’t have realistic expectations. I think I am going to use a piece much more than I end up wearing it down the line. Believe me, I’ve bought the special occasion dress with the intention of wearing it to more events, but haven’t. Give yourself some grace.

There are lot’s of sales going on right now since the shops are reopening (are the sales really any different from before though?). Try and ask yourself these questions before making any impulse purchases.

How do you make your own purchase decisions? Is there a question you think I should add to my list? Add a comment! I would love to hear it!

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