classic shopping error# 1 (How to stop wasting money buying clothes you never wear)

Buying new clothes should be a delightful experience for all. Yet, so many of us ruin it, by making one (or more) of the four classic shopping errors.

# 1 Error : Shopping  for the imaginary lifestyle

Shop for Your world and the climate
Do you live in a four season climate? If you live in London, it rains most of the time, a decent trench coat, (or even two,) is a jolly good idea. In some climates you never-ever, need a coat.

Obvious really, but shopping for the seasons we live in is a good start on the path to stylishness. I used to have tons of summer clothes for my imaginary lifestyle in sunny Santorini.




Being stylish is a full time job
Those of us blessed with commuting or working full time, we need easy to wear, easy to wash, smart flattering outfits. Every day!

Then perhaps a few clothes for going out, dinners, cocktail bars, whatever your thing is. I ride a bicycle and exercise daily, so these are factors to take into account. In my student days, my wardrobe should have been different.

It would follow that, the stylish, stay at home mum, needs a different Wardrobe, to the social butterfly’s. Sure we can have some dressy clothes, but spend the majority of the budget on daily wear. I am always shocked when people think it’s acceptable to look scruffy on a daily basis and save things for some future “special event”. Being stylish is a full time job people.

Identify the real life outfits
these are the actual clothes you need to wear on a daily basis. (No, don’t settle for misshapen gap tshirts,) Break down your daily activities ie (pie chart)
Work – outfit(s)
Shopping – outfit
Sofa lounging/surfing the Internet – outfit
Yoga- outfit
Taking the rubbish out – yes outfit. (I did say stylishness is a full time job)
Drinks with friends – outfit(s)
Bedtime- outfit ( well pyjamas actually, though stark naked is fine here)

When I first did that, it made me realise that despite having tons of clothes, putting together coherent outfits to suit my lifestyle was quite the struggle. My shopping habits were haphazard so I did not own the right combination of clothes to dress in a way I loved. Realising that was like an epiphany, allowing me to eliminate the superfluous and focus on my real lifestyle.

Check the diary
Note any special events or outings, weddings, parties or festivals looming on the horizon. They need special type of outfits. Holidays abroad usually do too. So consider a few suitable clothes to cover those needs. (and set a proportionate budget.) In my own wardrobe, I went through a phase of having only special events clothes, and nothing really loved, for every day wear.

Tip: do not stock up for fictional ‘maybe’ events- fashions change- in a few years time you wil not want to wear leather pants, never mind that fitting in them may be a minor miracle…

Next post: Classic shopping error # 2
Now, what are your own fashion shopping mistakes? Can you guess the classic shopping errors?

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40 thoughts on “classic shopping error# 1 (How to stop wasting money buying clothes you never wear)

  1. pgshore

    One of my shopping errors is buying the same thing again and again. Truly… how many nice black cardigans does one woman need? Granted, each one is a different style, material, and weight, but I just purchased my fourth yesterday because I fell in love with a bit of woven detail across the shoulders and down the sleeves. Now I’m wondering how much use I’ll get out of it.

    I know exactly why I do this: I find black cardis versatile, they fit well into the rest of my daily wardrobe, and they flatter me. But do I really need FOUR???

    What do you think, LS? Would you consider this a shopping error?

    1. lady sarah in london Post author

      I don’t know- it could just be that you have a very consistent personal style. You’ll know after about a year how much wear you got out of it. ( let me know) sometimes I find buying something I liked in multiple different colours was an error. Some colours looked weird and did not work with my wardrobe – ended up being a waste.

      1. pgshore

        Well, that is true… I do have a consistent personal style: a mostly neutral color palette with pops of color in handbags and Hermès scarves. I find that when I deviate too much from this, I make buying mistakes. Buying a single item in multiple colors (unless it’s multiple NEUTRAL colors!) seldom works out for me, for precisely the reason you said.

    2. missfrankiecat

      I think if you really love something, it makes you feel good and suits your lifestyle, multiple versions of it are an investment. I have white shirts in literally dozens of styles and fabrics. I wear plain ones to work with my suits, cotton ones with jeans at the weekend and silk or ornate ones with long skirts or evening trousers for formal events. I am always on the lookout for well made, new white shirts (they all lose colour eventually and need regular pruning from the wardrobe) and don’t regard repeated purchases as mistakes.

      1. pgshore

        Thank you for giving me a new way to look at this, missfrankiecat. You make an excellent point. I guess it’s not a shopping error after all, as long as I buy good-quality black cardigans (which I do!). I hadn’t thought of it as investment dressing, but you’re absolutely right.

      2. lady sarah in london Post author

        Very true about white shirts. I have a few as I wear them for work. I tried buying other colours or patterns but they did not feel as smart and ‘clean.’ look. As you say they need regular pruning.

  2. choosewellbuyfew

    Another great post on one of my absolute favorite blogs. I always save reading your blog at the end of my bloglist and I drink my cup of tea while beeing so inspired.
    I lovelove your hermes kelly and this week I got my very first vintage hermes bag from 1985. (purchased from elady) It is the Balle de Golf and I cannot believe the quality! I feel this is the start of an hermes journey and I can´t wait for the ride!

    1. choosewellbuyfew

      Also, regarding shopping errors I have up until now purchased quite expensive fancy dresses and the cost-per-wear did not make sense compared to purchasing less-expensive dresses and really investing in everyday wear. It seems obvious but somehow it is easier splurging on dresses and heels instead of knitwear. But not anymore:)
      I have found a good selection of The Row on ebay, most on 80% off and most not even worn 3 times. It is still expensive but the quality is amazing and it is alot of everyday basics. I also think that the resell value cannot compare to the retailprice, mabye because not many know about this brand?

  3. dottoressa

    How clever of you to make a life style/outfits pie chart ,was my first thought when I saw it a year or so ago
    I buy now very little, shop in my closet mostly :-),only a thing or two to update or investments ( like coats or something…)
    We had a beautiful four seasons climate,so my first shopping mistake was not to realize at once recent climate changes ,where spring and autumn are very short,it took some time to settle with me
    Second mistake was that people don’t dress up for concerts,theatre etc any more, so a simple outfit is just fine!
    Dear pgshore, I’m serial buyer ( in rehabilitation),too,always afraid to get short of white tees,black trousers or cardigans,what if they stop producing them,quelle horror 🙂
    But it is nightmare from my youth,it really happend in my little corner of the world

    1. pgshore

      Oh, my dear Dottoressa, I had to laugh at your “serial buyer” comment: I have white tees and black pants, and underwear (brand new) in my favorite brands, put away against the time when my current ones wear out and I cannot find new ones that I like as well. And I, like you, grew up with rationing when I was a small child… so (although I did not realize it until this moment) I am reliving my childhood in my shopping patterns!

      1. dottoressa

        Oh,I like the discussion. Yes,I am. When I find something I like and when I look great in it ,I have to abstain not to buy two of a kind,one to wear and one “just in case something happens to first one”. And one stays in a place when one buys same things over and over again,you have to move a bit,no? A little something to refresh your look or an upgrade
        I just read an article about great changes in fashion in decades of the past century and a little changes in this one (croatian Elle), now it is more about personality,taste,choice,not strictly in/out of fashion. And it is proof to our arguments,don’t you think?
        Have a nice weekend

  4. couldashouldawoulda9

    As I rarely buy clothes anymore I don’t really make so many errors. But I now look for longevity in wear. I do tend to keep items regardless of price for many years so to be fair I have a range. I also don’t go buying clothes with friends as it tends to enable people to spend.

  5. Sharron

    Sound advice. Once i stopped shopping for my fantasy life (and figure) i became instantly more stylish. It was hard facing reality that red soled shoes are not practical as daily footwear (i’m a nurse) and that my days off are spent catching up with housework and seeing neglected family members. My wardrobe is now less cluttered and i can now see what i have. I’m working on ‘upgrading’ so as things wear out replacing them well thought, good quality pieces that serve me in my life..stylishly of course!!!

  6. Antonia

    The biggest mistake I make is when buying handbags. I sometimes buy because the price is too good to pass up. For instance I recently bought a designer hobo but I’m not a hobo person, so now I’m selling on ebay. 😦 Expensive mistake because I only used it once.

      1. Antonia

        BOTH!! I should really join Bag Borrow or Steal-I think it would be cheaper in the long run plus I’ll know which style suits me just from using it for a little while. Sometimes I love the look of a bag (like the Chloe Paddington) but if a bag is a pain to get in and out of, then I end up having buyers remorse-I say “I should have known I wouldn’t like using this bag”. Live and learn!

  7. Elizabeth

    Thank- you for sharing your thoughts on this. Very inspirational. I need to take this to heart as I live in Florida and can’t stop buying coats. Not to mention Hermes CSGM’s. How did I end up with my 80 percent pie chart matching up with 10 percent of my closet. Note to self: Must stop shopping for fantasy life. Please keep sharing your blog with us. I look forward to reading them.
    Kind regards,

  8. Archana Paladugu

    My biggest shopping mistake in the recent years :

    Buying great quality good designer pieces that I don’t really need but are worn regularly once they come in. Just because they have become affordable.

    I know I don’t need so much. Hence the mistake.

        1. lady sarah in london Post author

          Excellent point about excess. However if you wear them all enough times then they ve fulfilled their obligations. Perhaps it simply means that one doesn’t need to buy more for a while?

          1. Archana Paladugu

            That should be true. But I am at a point where I think I am not giving them a chance to prove their durability. They can withstand 400 washes ( say ) but they see 300. And I end up donating them or selling them because my closet is ever growing. The more I get , less chance there is to do justice to the quality.

            When I see celebrity closets on TV, it’s all designer beautiful items. But the excess baffles me.

            In my own little world, I am trying to not do the same. I seem to buy two items every season. Been doing so for years now. Nothing leaves because the good clothes don’t wear out on me. I eventually sell them away or donate them mid life cycle.

            Makes me rethink it all.

            1. lady sarah in london Post author

              Two items per season is a golden number! Enough to freshen things up without weighing down the planet. Also if you buy good quality, what you donate will get used so it’s not wasted. The problems are caused by ‘fast fashion’ overconsumption. The quality is too poor to be reused or even recycled! They are not biodegradable either, so basically just mount up eating resources.

  9. pret a porter p

    All good advice. That said, I have a dispropiate amount of “casual” clothes for my lifestyle. but I don’t like owning a bunch of work clothes, since I like to get dressed quickly for work.

  10. pgshore

    LS, I just wanted to say that this particular post has obviously really touched a nerve! I have rarely seen so many comments… and such thoughtrul ones. I look forward to your other three “errors” and the conversations they spark.

    1. lady sarah in london Post author

      Ha ha😱 thank you ! Do you think we are ‘fashion error’ experts? Can you guess the most common fashion errors we all make? (Btw I think purchasing staples you wear all the time, is wisdom rather than an error! )

      1. pgshore

        Hmmm… common fashion errors. As opposed to common shopping errors, you mean? Well, here are a few:
        1. Dressing in an age-inappropriate way… especially applicable to women of “a certain age.” (If you wore miniskirts the first time around, they are NOT appropriate this time around!) I believe the British expression for this, which I love and quote often, is “mutton dressed as lamb.”
        2. Being a “fashion brand” victim; that is, dressing head-to-toe in an obvious brand-name label. This does NOT apply to subtle brands, like Carven, where you can’t tell. But while a single Chanel item will “posh up” a look, an all-Chanel outfit looks as though you’re on your way to or from the runway. It also makes you look as though you’re frightened of fashion.
        3. Wearing a designer brand ONLY because it’s made by a well-known designer, whether it suits your figure or not. (Similar to #1, but this one applies to all ages.)

  11. Virginia

    Ah, as a reforming habitual shopper I have made every error in the book (and then some!)
    I am working hard on quality over quantity, but as a color lover (and cardi lover) I want a quality cardigan in every color! However, I now have enough to get me through this fall/winter season. Would love a new to me purse, but my desires are way too expensive! Reduce, reuse, recycle !! My fall mantra for this year!


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