classic shopping error# 3 (How to stop wasting money buying clothes you never wear)

The ‘four classic shopping errors’ robbing us – not just our money, but our style potential.

# 3 Error : Shopping to save money (sans budget)

Thinking of buying Cheap clothes as a cost effective wardrobe solution – (and a bit savvy actually…)

Money of course, is a big deal, and where most of us will go wrong in our shopping plans. The naked truth about very cheap clothes: they will cost us more – in the long term.

Fashion & beauty Budget
Each season needs its own budget. I am now convinced the majority of my money should go for the things I wear most often. ie work, smart casual things and even loungewear. Your priorities may be different, but remember that being stylish is full time job.

Shopping should be a pleasurable experience- yet there are four shopping errors robbing us of our potential.

Shopping should be a pleasurable experience- yet  there are four shopping errors creating clutter in our wardrobes and robbing us of our style potential.

Budget to pay a reasonable amount of money for good clothes
By setting a budget, one actually has to think about fashion purchases. Impromptu purchases are minimised. Does this dress suit me? Where was this top made? Who made my  jeans? Were they made by a responsible company? or is my new coat purchase actually destroying the planet, creating potential problems for my children? How many times will I really get to wear this? (be honest!)

Say no to suspiciously cheap clothes. Likewise, suspiciously expensive clothes are not the answer. This goes against current way of thinking, but mid priced brands are actually best. (M&S and People Tree are two widely available ones.) Quality clothes with longevity, are made in a different way with different fabrics and are not to be found at rock bottom prices. Random items from the sales and those constant visits to Zara or forever 21, all add up to frightening amounts. Our wallets are empty and the wardrobes full of unwearable clothes.

Sales, Bargains & special offers
Sales bargains, no matter how discounted, are only a good purchase if they fill a void in our wardrobes… Otherwise, bargains and cheap clothes are just bills, clutter and terminators of style. This may seem a little harsh, but it is usually obvious when someone buys the bulk of their wardrobe ‘on sale’ – it will lack a coherent look. There will be no real visual connection between items bought, since they were bought because they were a ‘good deal’, rather than because they were truly our style.

The cheap clothes myth
There is a myth going round that all we need is an “investment handbag”.  This perfect handbag will magically elevate  a bunch of cheaply made clothes, into a stylish outfit. That, dear friends, has been an evil marketing ploy, to get us to empty our wallets. It’s so much easier to sell handbags than clothes. After all a handbag sort of fits everyone, irrespective of height or size. The story was that you can splurge on YSL handbags and buy tops from forever 21 – none would be the wiser. Not quite – there is no handbag in the world that will save a bad outfit.

True Treasures
The true fashion treasures can be found second hand or from smaller unknown designers, though – prepare to pay a little more than Primark-  Imagine discovering unique, local designers, that will make us look amazing…’why pay more’ you may ask, surely this is a budgeting post. Well, the point is to have smaller wardrobes full of things we love and make us look divine.

(You may see my own budgeting attempts here)


If you are a beginner budget setter, prepare to fail a few times before getting it right. My own first few attempts could be described as vaguely amusing, and my sister is still trying…

Lady Sarah’s Golden rules When allocating a budget
#Accessories should, effectively, cost proportionately to clothes (be of comparable quality) and fit in with personal style. Despite what magazines and fashion blogs claim – pairing top quality handbags with ‘cheap basics’ just looks weird. If anything- the opposite is true, a well made summer dress, can work with a basic straw clutch.

#Very expensive clothes, can also be a mistake as often “we don’t want to spoil by actually ever wearing them.” Saving being stylish for another day, just doesn’t work. Looking at my own ‘errors’ I have an unworn, navy cashmere top from Hermes. It’s a very simple design and easy to wear casually, yet I am petrified of wearing it as it was so expensive. I find myself reaching for the more reasonably priced, majestic filatures

# Only budget for those Clothes that suit the climate & the lifestyle. (see error#1) my own rule is that I should be able to get at least 60 wears from any potential purchase.

Next post: The Final (and most major) Classic shopping error # 4

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18 thoughts on “classic shopping error# 3 (How to stop wasting money buying clothes you never wear)

  1. dottoressa

    Very nice post! These are not just compliments,but did you think about writing a book? I think that, for a lot of young women and girls, it would be very useful and fun to read. You write with a wit and have a systematic approach
    And sales considered: last winter season I spotted Max Mara short camel coat in a shop. I tried it but wasn’t sure about a color,they were orange-red and petrol blue. I was thinking about the red, I wear a lot of black,navy and grey,but decided against. If there was a right colour I would buy it ,I never wait for sales if I need something now. But after New Year it just pop up online in black,but not in our shop. I decided to wait and see, and bought it first day of sales. But in other cases I avoid sales,I only check a couple of brands I usually wear,for a replacement of a basic pieces. I simply avoid the temptation,otherwise…..who knows 🙂
    And a lot of brands I like even don’t go on sales

    1. Antonia

      I agree with dottoressa, you should write a book! 🙂

      I’ve bought designer things at consignment stores because I thought the price was too good to pass up, only to have it sit in my closet…..I am easily seduced by the label! For instance, I almost bought a Missoni sweater at my local consignment shop because it was only $89 but I stopped myself because the main colors were bright orange and bright pink with the main part of the sweater being black, so I wouldn’t have much to go with it. I came close to just buying it because it was designer! In my mind I think, well, I could go to Ann Taylor/J. Crew and buy a brand new sweater (made in China) for the same price as a designer sweater (made in Italy), so I will talk myself into buying something!! I stayed strong this time around but I need your guidance Lady Sarah!! 🙂

    2. lady sarah in london Post author

      Thank you dear Dottoressa, very kind compliment. 😄 it’s often the case with ‘sales’ the colour is not our first choice, the size is a bit off etc. that’s why I avoid them as in the past they ve left me with shopping compromises…

  2. missfrankiecat

    Some brilliant points but I’m not sure I fully agree with you on spending proportionately the same for handbags (and other accessories) as clothes. I agree an expensive handbag doesn’t per se save a poor outfit but classic handbags (I’m not talking the latest designer ‘it bag’) do grace a wardrobe much longer than any item of clothing and therefore should cost more. Several of my handbags (Chanel, Hermes and LV) have been in my collection since the 1990’s and 2000’s, still look great and are carried regularly. The best quality clothes, even staples like coats, don’t last that long without looking dated.

    1. lady sarah in london Post author

      Excellent point, but the quality of the bag should still be comparable to the quality and finish of the clothes. (Maybe a notch up or down, but no huge difference, it doesn’t have to cost the same, just similar quality.) Chanel & Hermes are extreme examples as the quality is so much higher to most other brands. Having said that, a cashmere coat from H or a jacket from Chanel lasts for decades. (But we still need some variety and these are not necessarily everyday clothes.)

      1. ashley231

        I agree with miss Frankiecat. Especially older chanel bags – the quality is so high is it even possible to find clothes to match qualitywise? unless you buy couture.

      2. Stacie300

        I see nothing wrong with pairing an expensive handbag with low cost clothes. everyone is doing it and we have to save money somewhere, right?

    2. Londongal

      People who can afford a Chanel or Louis Vuitton bag have no business buying sweat shop made garments. surely they can afford to pay for clothes so everyone can make a decent living.

    1. lady sarah in london Post author

      😆 ain’t that the truth? I have unworn summer dresses, our London summers are so erratic. But I ve made a note not to buy anymore, till we move to Santorini….true cost was very powerful, I am joining the ethical consumer group.

  3. Alicia

    You mentioned in your article about finding your style.
    I love wool and knits and am a sweater girl most of my bras are high end because better made last longer and the cheap ones do not come in my size.
    I have decided the hard part for me is what I love want and what I get a chance to wear are not always the same thing.
    So how do you ride that line between comfort, style, and what is going on in your life, Like Work then home maybe out with friends to the supermarket and then in front of computer.

    1. lady sarah in london Post author

      I think shopping for the imaginary lifestyle is an error made by all of us to some degree. But if you like wool & knits they should be easy to adapt for real life no? The way I upgraded my own wardrobe to suit my real life, was by buying higher quality clothes, and learning to appreciate the beauty of each garment.
      I also made this: if you do make one please email me. 😃

  4. Parisian chic on a budget

    Lady Sarah – love love your blog, and especially this breathtaking series! I can’t wait for the next ‘episode’ ! all the best. Linda

  5. silkpathdiary

    Oh how very true and inspiring! I think it really does get easier as one gets older for a start 🙂 I buy only twice a year after looking at what I need – yes need – NOT want. I am still culling – bad habits of the past takes so much time and is costly! My yearly purchases are now down to barely a handful and these are mostly replacements (undies and lingerie) and only one or two that qualify as updates.
    I must mention that my cashmere Hermes twinsets are worn regularly and I wash them on a cold machine wash with my other cashmeres and they come out fine and dandy. Maintenance is something I am strict about these days that also prevents me from wasting money and time on clothes that costs too much/take too much time to clean. Now, my dry cleaning is mostly limited to outerwear. x


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