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!

How to get your dream closet on a budget!

Whether your style has changed, or your life style, or even if you just want a closet re-fresh, it can be pretty pricey to revamp your wardrobe. Not everyone has the budget to go shop online and buy everything on their closet wish list. Here are my tips for getting your dream closet on a budget.

1- Buy your clothes from local consignment stores

Consignment stores are a treasure trove of unique and quality pieces. They are where I have found some of my most favorite items in my closet! I have purchased cashmere sweaters, spring jackets, dresses, and jeans from consignment stores. There are so many pros for shopping consignment.

Consignment stores:

  • carry lightly used clothes, shoes, and accessories
  • are often locally owned
  • tend to carry more high end brands
  • have off season clothes at a great discount
  • have a wide selection of styles, brands, and trends
  • may allow some price negotiation (especially if you are a regular)
  • constantly have new clothes coming in
  • sometimes have clothes that are new with tags (NWT)
  • allow you to try on before you buy (can’t do that online)
  • are up on current trends
  • allow you to sell your clothes and use credit in store or give you cash!

One of my favorite things about consignment stores is that last bullet point: I can sell my own old clothes and use that credit in store! Bringing my lightly used, stylish clothes to a consignment store allows me to sustainably clear out my closet, earn money with minimal effort, and pass on my pieces to have a second life in someone else’s closet. After my pieces sell in the store, I get a cash credit or check that I can use to purchase something else I will love wearing.

I have to say, my favorite part of shopping consignment is knowing the store owners. I frequent a couple consignment stores in my local area, and I love that the store owner knows me by name when I walk in! She also has learned more about the kinds of pieces I like, and can help me find things that fit my style! Supporting and shopping local business is so important!

2- Buy your clothes secondhand online

My personal favorite online marketplace is Poshmark because the selection is so big. You can find almost anything on Poshmark from vintage clothes to items that are recently sold out online.

You can also refine your search. If you are searching for a denim jacket, you can type and refine your search to find exactly what you are looking for. You can sort by brand, color, size, gender, etc. This feature is super helpful if you don’t have the time to browse consignment or thrift stores, or if you want something to fit your specific vision.

There are SO MANY great secondhand shops online now. Some other secondhand clothes sites are The Real Real, Etsy, Lovanie, Vestiare, and thredUP.

3- Wait for the sale

This sounds so obvious- but often the urgency we feel when we want to purchase something makes us forget this simple solution for saving money. Most of the time, we don’t immediately NEED the item we are searching for. If you can wait a bit, most of the time a sale will roll around for the item you’re eyeing. As my parents always reminded me as a high schooler, there’s always going to be another sale 😉

I have not personally used them yet, but there are browser extensions that you can use to alert you when an item goes on sale. One that I have heard of is Shoptagr. This way, if you really want to buy something new online, you don’t have to constantly watch for sales yourself.

Another reason its good to wait for a sale and delay your purchase is that you may discover that you don’t really need that item anyways. I know that most of the time, when I delay a purchase, I find that that forget about it. For me, if I delay my purchase, and I’m still thinking about it a week later, I am more likely to use enjoy that piece in the long run.

In addition to all of these tips, I will add that you should always look to buy high quality pieces that will last. It can be tempting to buy cheap clothes in a rush, or purchase something quick from a fast fashion store, but those clothes are not going to be good for you in the long run. Just because something is on sale, it doesn’t mean you need it.

Look for quality, not quantity 😉

I hope you have found some inspiration for building your dream closet on a budget. Maybe you already have a favorite consignment store, or maybe this post has encouraged you to check out your local shop. Tell me how you have found dream pieces on a budget! I would love some more tips myself!

If you are looking for thrift tips, go to my Top Tips for Thrifting post!

I’ve cleaned out my closet, now what?

So you’ve been working on paring down your wardrobe and finished cleaning out your closet. Maybe you used my guide for paring down your closet and have a lot of clothes in your ‘get rid of’ pile. What do you do with all of those items?

I went through this myself. The first time I cleaned out my closet, I took seven garbage bags full of clothes to Salvation Army. While it was an easy way to get the clothes out of my house, I noticed something as I went to Salvation Army a few weeks later. I noticed that I had donated a lot of old t-shirts. You know, the ones you get in high school when you are in sports or clubs, or the ones you get when you sign up for a 5K. I noticed that there isn’t a section in Salvation Army for “old high school memorabilia”. I thought to myself, where do the clothes go if they are not sold in the thrift store?

A lot of clothes that are donated to Goodwill or Salvation Army don’t end up getting sold there. A lot of it gets packed up and sent either to another charity shop, or it gets shipped around the world to developing countries, where they are already overwhelmed with the amount of clothes being sent there. Clothes that go unwanted often get burnt up or sent to landfills.

It got me wondering, “What can I do to make sure my clothes don’t end up in a landfill or burnt up?” I did some research, and found out that there are so many other things you can do with your ‘get rid of pile’!

Instead of donating your clothes to overwhelmed thrift stores, you can…

1- Take your gently worn and in-style pieces to a consignment shop. This is a great way to support local business and the easiest way I have found to sell your used clothes. I have a favorite local consignment store that has taken dozens of pieces from me to sell in her store. Not only does the store owner benefit from my clothes being sold there, but I also got a portion of each sale that I could take in cash, check, or in store credit. Most of the time I ended up using my store credit on one or two items at the shop, and those pieces are still some of my favorites.

2- Have a clothing swap party. Invite friends to bring their clothes to your home, church, or community center and “shop” each other’s closets. It’s a fun, free way to refresh your wardrobe and take home some new-to-you pieces. My church has a Clothes Closet community giveaway each month, so any clothes left at the end got donated to the church charity where community members can take them for free.

3- Ask someone if they might want some “hand-me-downs “. Before I get rid of a bag of clothes, I’ll usually ask my younger sister if she would like any of the items I am getting rid of. The hand-me-down opportunity does not end there, though. Whatever my younger sister doesn’t want, other people I know might also want my hand-me-downs. One time, I had the girls in my youth group and their moms come to my house for a try-on party! Some of my friends brought their old clothes to my house for the girls to pick from too! We had snacks, and music, and a lot of fun playing “fashion show”. The girls got to “shop” for free and got to spend some quality time with each other.

4- Re-purpose your old clothes. Do you have an old oversized shirt that you can turn into a skirt? Maybe some stained t-shirts that can be cut into cleaning rags? You can turn your old high school sports and club t-shirts into a quilt! I did that with my college and high school shirts last winter over a couple of snow days. If you aren’t crafty, there are people on Etsy who can make the quilt for you. All you have to do is mail your shirts to them!

My t-shirt quilt I made with my mom over a couple of snow days in January of 2019.

5- Sell your clothes. You can always sell your clothes without a consignment shop. You can sell your clothes on Poshmark, send them to Thred-up, or sell vintage pieces on Etsy. If they are from sustainable brands, there is a new shop called Lovanie that you can sell ethically made brands on. I have not sold clothes online yet. To be totally honest, I just haven’t felt like dealing with the hassle of mailing things to people. I am becoming more and more interested in trying though. We’ll see!

6- Re-categorize some items. This idea does not apply to all of the items in your ‘get rid of’ pile. When I say “re-categorize”, I mean wearing certain items for different purposes than before. For example, an old t-shirt that you don’t want to get rid of can be re-categorized as pajamas. Maybe old jeans with a hole in them can be still worn for yard work.

7- Donate to specific charities. Certain items like old prom or homecoming dresses can either be sold on consignment, or given to charities. Cinderella’s Closet is a charity that takes old prom and homecoming dresses and gives them to girls for free! Look and see if there’s a Cinderella’s Closet charity or something similar near you!

I hope these ideas have inspired you to do more with your ‘get rid of’ pile. Are there other ways that you have re-purposed or given away your unwanted clothes? I would love to hear about it!

So next time you do a closet clean-out, think about what you are going to do with your unwanted items. Maybe it will be a great opportunity to try something new!