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It is said that we use only 1/3 of the clothes in our closets. Wow. If that’s true, it means that 2/3 of our wardrobe we should never have bought in the first place. OK, maybe there are legitimate reasons for not using some of those clothes. You lost or gained weight, you’re waiting for the right occasion, or you’re holding onto your Members Only jacket, hoping it comes back in style one day. But what about the rest of those clothes you never wear?
If there is a science to the art of buying clothes that you will actually wear, it starts by first establishing your style.
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Manufacturers spend millions of dollars trying to sell you the new look and their idea of style. But mannequins and models in catalogs can be made to look great in anything. So don’t assume you have to dress like them to look good. It’s your job to decide what works for you.
Figuring that out is easy. Are you more comfortable with a classic elegant look, or, a bold fashion-forward look? When the tailor asks you, “cuffs or straight leg?” and you respond, “what’s everybody else doing?” then maybe you fit right in the middle. There may not be a special name for your style, but who cares? The important thing is that your wardrobe fits comfortably on your body and within your style.
Unless you just recently started buying clothing, you already have the answer to decoding your style hanging in your closet.
Look in your closet and identify your go-to outfits. Force yourself to describe why you like them. Maybe it’s because you feel the cut makes you look taller, slimmer, more attractive, more professional, or friendlier. Then determine how it does this: is it because it has a lower waistline, a v-scoop, or a drape neck, etc. Then ask yourself why you don’t like other outfits as much. While color is important, try to think beyond just the color of the item. This exercise should give you a good sense of your general style.
The second crucial element to buying clothes you will actually wear is to never go shopping without a specific need in mind.
When you go shopping without a particular need, you increase the chance of buying clothing that doesn’t fit your style or wardrobe. Before shopping, spend a little time in your closet to review. Your wardrobe should not be a random assortment of clothing; the next item you buy needs to fit somewhere and it needs to match something.
It helps to think of individual clothing items as players on a team. When shopping, shop for the team. You might tell yourself, “I need a charcoal pants to match my wool plaid jacket; a blue shirt and skirt that will compliment my green sweater.” Ask yourself: does the item easily create more outfit combinations on my team? If the answer is no, then you probably shouldn’t buy it.
Understanding your style—which clothes you like and why—will go a long way towards making you a better shopper. Buying clothing with a specific need in mind will help you create an awesome wardrobe that you will actually use.
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