Save. Spend. Splurge.

How to never regret buying a piece of clothing again


True, right?

When I buy something, I ask myself:

Where is it made?

This is my own personal quirk, I refuse to buy anything made in China as much as I can.

How much does it cost?

It depends on what it is. If it’s $500 for a t-shirt, it goes back on the shelf. If it’s $500 for a coat, I keep touching it.

What’s the fabric makeup?

I avoid polyester, acrylic, nylon, etc.

I prefer silk, cashmere, wool, cotton, hemp…. anything natural, or AS natural as possible. If the item has a majority of natural fabrics in it, then I can bend my rule and allow a little spandex or acrylic in there, but it can’t be 90% polyester.

Am I comfortable in it and does it fit well?

After I check those three above criterion of make, cost and fabric makeup, THEN I deign to put it on my arm and head to a changing room to try it on.

I find that I need to buy a size bigger if it’s a top, dress or jacket (to accommodate my larger shoulders), but I need a size smaller for my bottom half.

Do I just like the brand name?

This one doesn’t affect me as much, although I have a penchant for the following designers:

  • Rag & Bone for the cool factor
  • Vince for comfortable, cuddly sweaters (although they’re mostly made in China, so I have to be careful)
  • Smythe Les Vestes for coats
  • Burberry for trench-style coats
  • Equipment for silk tops although since 2009 they’re now all made in China
  • All Saints for their cool factor although their leather coats are very heavy to me

Other than those above brand names I tend to gravitate towards, I like independent designers better.


Just look at this stunning Burberry cashmere and wool trench!

Do I want it just because it’s cheap(er) or does it come with a free gift?

This really kicks in if I am in a thrift or a consignment store. I hate regrets. I hate leaving something, coming back a week later to buy it after dreaming about it, and realizing it has already been snatched up by someone else. GAH!

Know how stores get you to buy things? They offer you a free gift.

Know how else stores get you to buy things? They put signs like: 40% off!

What would I wear with it?

I have the whole gamut in my wardrobe, I could wear anything with almost anything I buy.

Where would I wear it?

This one stops me from giving in and buying gorgeous silk cocktail dresses and more than 3″ heels, because I don’t go to galas or events and I would never reach for super sky high heels if I can help it.

Do I have to dry clean or hand wash it?

This is a factor but not really. I only really dry clean coats, and I tend to carefully hand wash other items, even though they say dry clean only.


Do I have to get it tailored?

Sometimes it fits in the shoulders but I need to nip in the waist. Or it’s too long for my 5’5″ frame.

I have to factor this tailoring cost into the purchase price.

Am I trying to convince myself it’s a good purchase?

If I feel myself hesitating, it’s an immediate sign that I shouldn’t buy it. If I love it, I LOVE IT and I impulse buy it because I know I can’t leave the store without it.

If I put it on and think: … if only it were  _________ …  I put it back immediately.

What’s the refund/return policy?

I tend to return about 40% of what I buy. If I can’t return it, I am less apt to buy it on a whim.

Is this going to become a wardrobe orphan or will it fill a wardrobe gap?

I am never going to be the girl who wears a strapless dress or top, or long maxi dresses (I hate how they get caught amongst my legs).

Unless it fills my wardrobe gap (e.g. I do NOT already have a black leather jacket in my wardrobe), or I have been looking for something like it for years (like this navy blue Smythe peacoat that flares at the waist), then I shouldn’t buy it.

Is this my style?

I’ve realized that I can describe my style in 3 words:

Clean. Modern. Timeless.

Obviously Hawaiian shirts will never make it into my wardrobe, nor will ruffled skirts or super trendy things like harem pants.



This is my style — a classic, timeless, OMG amazing, perfect Smythe Reefer Camel Coat

Will I be able to wear it until the age of 90?

I prefer timeless, classic pieces. For me, that even includes a leather-sleeved top because leather sleeves on a black sweater will always look timeless.

What I do, is imagine an older woman with white hair (I have plenty of role models here I conjure up), and think: What would she look like in it?

If I can’t imagine her wearing it without looking too trendy or ridiculous, I think long and hard before buying it.

(This is why leather leggings have still not made it in my wardrobe. I can’t fork over $1000 for a pair of leather leggings that I think would look ridiculous at 90.)

How much do I really want it?

If I get to this point after going through all that? I buy it and am done with it.

It usually ends up being a rather expensive item at the end because nice fabrics do not come cheap. Polyester comes cheap but never lasts and looks as nice for a longer period of time.


How about you?


  • Sarah

    Love this post in so many ways….

    • save. spend. splurge.

      Thank you! I have been exercising what I think is pretty good restraint lately. Mostly neutrals and tank tops (basic pieces) entered my wardrobe. I’ve also tried to stop browsing the shops online and getting tempted.

  • TK

    Great list of questions!

    Loved your observation “If I find myself hesitating…”: realized recently that I’ve had WAY too many internal debates about the presumed “virtues” of a garment, versus my innate desire for it. It is rare indeed for me to truly NEED something these days–all of my sartorial needs have been met, if I’m feeling honest enough to admit it! I have to remember there’s no need for me to talk myself into ANYTHING–it’s gotta be instant love, or… (gulp!) nothing at ALL!

  • NZ Muse

    Ugh, I just missed out on a thrift shop find – it disappeared by the time I went back. But it’s okay, I guess I didn’t love it enough to buy it on the spot. Wasn’t meant to be.

    Fabrics are my big current thing. I’ve been super sensitive lately and so many materials are irritating my skin.

    • save. spend. splurge.

      Natural fabrics on the whole tend to be better for my skin but they have to be soft. Some jersey viscoses are soft and not irritation. I avoid wool… and cheap cashmere.

      I had a similar experience with a thrift find. $35 for these PERFECT leather gloves and I let them go. Went back the next day and they were gone. ;_;

  • Cassie

    Out of curiosity, do you think you’ll ever extend your China ban to other countries that companies are moving to in their race for the bottom dollar?

    As an addendum to “What’s the fabric makeup?”, I’d add “How is the construction?”. You filter out a lot of the substandard products with your other filters, but its still worth checking the seams and finishing as a just in case.

    Really thorough list though 🙂

    • save. spend. splurge.

      I’m considering it, but other commenters have made such good points about how it brings economic prosperity to the region and some people WANT those factories so they can have a job, ANY JOB. I can understand that (having had family in Third World countries), so it is hard to say what is the right decision.

      In general, my outlook has shifted slightly to just.. BUY LESS. I’m really, REALLY trying to be conscious about what I purchase and to treat every purchase like an additional burden of sorts.

  • Sylvia @Professional Girl

    Omg! I had to copy and paste these questions because some of these I had never even thought about asking myself when purchasing clothes. Thank you for this post!

  • Debbie M

    I actually do use many of the questions you use: What’s the cost, what’s the fabric, is it comfortable, how well does it fit, does it go with things I already have, when would I wear it, does it need dry cleaning, will it go out of style? I don’t really think of myself having a style, but I don’t like to wear some things low necklines and short skirts.

    I do like more fabrics than you do. These days, a good fit is hardest criterion for me to meet.

    Here are some more questions I ask:

    * How much do I need it–if I absolutely have to have white shirts for a new job or something, I’m going to accept crappier things. Otherwise I can hold out for something excellent.

    * Does it have pockets? I just won’t get pants, skirts, dresses, or jackets that don’t have pockets anymore. (Again, this is because I am no longer desperate for these things.)

    * Is it flattering? (I’m very good at looking frumpy, though a good fit helps, plus some colors don’t go well with my pink face.)

    * Will it layer well? I’m usually cold, but I live somewhere hot. So whenever I go inside into the air conditioning, I’ll want an extra layer. So sweaters and jackets and coats need to be able to fit over other clothes–a lot of modern sweaters have very narrow sleeves that don’t look good over anything but a sleeveless shirt. Also, hot flashes mean I want to be able to quickly remove an outer layer (and then three minutes later put it back on!).

    * Is it see-through or otherwise showing every little lump and crease? I’m not into this tissue-weight stuff!

  • Michelle

    My favorite question is “Will I be able to wear it until age 90?” We forget the long-term value of classics.

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