What is your typical decision-making process when it comes to buying clothes?
I kind of browse, constantly. Online, in-person, observing what other women wear, noting in detail their accessories, shoes…
So FYI — I’m staring at you not because I’m trying to be a creepy weirdo but maybe your outfit is so compelling I’m trying to memorize all the pieces and then figure out later why it works so well.
I then try and replicate it with what I have.. if I can.
My only decision boxes I feel the need to tick off when I look at a piece is:
Does it fit well?
If not, can I get a larger size and does THAT fit?
Does the fabric contain at least 80% natural fibres?
Lyocell or viscose counts because it is far better on my skin than polyester, and unless the piece is AMAZING beyond belief and is of very high quality, polyester is a huge “NO” for me.
Do I like the way it feels?
Even if something is 100% linen it doesn’t mean it is good quality linen and can be very see-through.
Is it worth the money?
If it is a cheaper piece but very well made or of a good thick quality fabric, I’ll go for it. Otherwise, I’d rather put it back on the shelf and try to find a higher quality version of it instead where I will feel better in it.
Do I like the way it looks on me?
That said, sometimes a print will overtake my decision on a piece because I just love it so much I’ll overlook that the style itself makes my shoulders look a teeny bit too large for my frame, like this dress below with its thin straps way off to the edges of my shoulders:
Like this banana leafy print dress — the top half is not great. I don’t love racerbacks or racer-style necklines because it really makes my shoulders look wide, but the dress itself is not form-fitting, so it balances out somewhat on the bottom, along with a good belt.
The print really sold the dress for me, and the $13 price tag clinched it.
What’s the price tag?
Aside from quality and it being worth the money, I also need to see the price.
If it is $300, it doesn’t mean it is the best. It may not be worth it because the fit is not great, or it is just a little too long, or it is a little too something or another….. Or the print is too faint, and not strong or bold enough.
Whatever it is, the price tag does play some role in it.
Do you often buy things on a whim, or do you tend to make sure you have compared all your options first?
If the piece is incredible, like a once-in-a-lifetime piece of clothing or accessory, or something that I put on and think: OMG, I will buy it even if it doesn’t seem to fit anything in my wardrobe at the moment off the top of my head.
I just know, I will regret it if I don’t buy such a great item and then use my creative juices to figure out how to work it into my outfits.
I love things on a whim when they are one-of-a-kind or really special.
I can pinpoint this grey flannel wool bomber jacket from a collaboration with Olivia Palermo and Banana Republic where I wasn’t sure it would work, but I just loved the sleeves with the balloon sleeve with a pleated wrist so much that I had to have it.
I’m really not a fan of athleisure but this jacket had something. Something special for me, and it worked. I love wearing it just like above.
Other times, I have an idea of exactly what I want. Like a black linen tunic that has to be exactly the right length, the right thickness, the right collar…
I can be very particular if it is what I want, and I have an idea of it, and nothing else will do. Nothing will be WHAT I want.
Sometimes, I can buy similar substitutes if the exact item I want doesn’t work out, or ends up not being sold (or too expensive), and I am okay with that, but otherwise, I really try to buy the exact thing I saw.
Or the exact belt I know would be perfect for my wardrobe, like a braided leather belt which was my most recent must-have:
In this case, I really compare all my options first.
I go through everything, I check and check…. I try on all the belts, I touch all the leather, I check the price tags on everything… And then I decide on something.
(See braided belt above in the photo with the dress, I got it from The Gap)
What about you? How do you buy clothes?
Interested in reading more?
Flip through all of my Curated Closet Workbook pages and notes.
A little about this series:
I am embarking on a 8-week (or longer) excursion to do this exercise from one of my favourite style books – The Curated Closet – and to show you what my Curated Closet Workbook (companion workbook to the actual book) looks like at every step of the way.
Why do this?
Because I know what I like but I have no idea why I like what I do. I just do, and it seems very hodge-podge and all over the place. Being very Type A, I kind of want to pin it down and to know WHY.
I feel like it would help me narrow down my style personas more, and stop me from making bad / stupid shopping mistakes.
Also, I really like reading about these kinds of things from other people. I love it when people go through and talk about their style evolution and why.