When it comes to shopping, we’re all guilty of a few infractions. Namely, buying stuff we don’t really need, getting caught up in owning “It” items, and occasionally shelling on for gorgeous things we can’t quite afford. However, there’s a difference between falling victim to these practices once a rare while and developing full-blown habits that can impact your bank account and your sense of style (not to mention precious closet real estate.)
Here, we’ve put together a list of 12 shopping habits you need to break, stat.
You try to keep up with street style stars.
Any street style addict knows that there are certain personalities that simply kill it every time they’re photographed. But just because you saw Miroslava Duma, Eva Chen, Alexa Chung, or Anya Zirhouva draped in Chanel, Céline—or because you’ll be in New York during Fashion Week and want to get snapped by Phil Oh—isn’t a great reason to go out and splurge on the same stuff.
Let’s not forget: Several big street-fashion players, editors, and bloggers get sent designer stuff for free to entice folks like us to go out and buy it. Others are, well, richer than us and it’s their day job to flit around the world in the latest designer clothes, which is fun to admire but not necessarily healthy to emulate.
You sacrifice real-life stuff for fashion stuff.
As much as we adore fashion and shopping and take it very seriously, let’s be real: A pair of Isabel Marant boots are certainly not more important than eating for a month, paying your student loans, or making rent. Really want those boots? Set aside a little every month to eventually buy them upfront and guilt-free (the best way!)
You consistently buy things that don’t gel with your lifestyle.
There’s nothing wrong with treating yourself to beautifully impractical pieces now and again, but it’s a bad habit to have if you constantly spend on items that don’t fit into your lifestyle. Are you a pre-school teacher who would never wear heels to work? You might not want to shell out $600 for those Manolo Blahniks right now. Do you work at a conservative hedge fund? You probably won’t get much wear out of that wild printed Kenzo suit. Why spend your hard-earned money on things that won’t get use?
You shop for Instagram.
We hate to assume you’d buy anything simply so people know you own it, but alas, this is the world in which we live. Are you buying that Balenciaga bag because you really, really love it, or because you want others to know you have it?
If you buy those designer shoes, will you be able to truly enjoy them without posting them to social media? If the answer is no, you might have some thinking to do about your shopping habits.
You don’t play the wait-a-day game.
This is a common mistake we all make, but it’s the tip one that’ll help you not regret anything you buy. Every time you’re shopping for something you love but don’t really need, put it back on the rack (or remove it from your online cart) and wait a full 24 hours. If you can’t stop thinking about it, it’s a sign that it might be worth it. You’d be shocked how often we forget about items that we almost buy when we put a little time and distance between it and us.
You don’t treat big purchases like big purchases.
Think about it: When someone buys a new car or a new house, they don’t buy a bunch of smaller, cheaper houses and cars a few months later, right? So if you buy that $2,000 investment bag, why buy five other, cheaper bags soon after? This is kick in buyer’s remorse both for the pricey bag you’re not using as much, and the cheaper bags, which you know you didn’t really need
You get caught up in one-season wonders.
Let’s be clear: We certainly don’t think every spurge needs to be something “classic” that’ll last till the end of time (where’s the fun in that?) but we do think dropping a ton on something that’s so obviously the “it” item from one collection (ahem, Alexander Wang‘s $1,000 Parental Advisory sweatshirt, or Givenchy’s $900 floral Birkenstock-style slides ) is silly. Why? Because there’s an excellent chance that, after the season is up and the luster starts to fade, you might start to feel that your splurge was partially due to the immediacy of having something coveted, rather than having something you absolutely adore.
Plus, draping yourself in the coolest labels and “It” items might give you a boost of instant sartorial gratification, but in six months those pieces will be obsolete, you’ll be out a month’s rent, and you’ll feel compelled to keep up with the cycle of buying the next round of coveted pieces. Exhausting!
You keep buying the same. exact. stuff.
Is your closet literally bursting with one type of item, like black dresses, leather moto jackets, striped shirts? If so, you might want to think about paring down and only keeping the one you wear the most. Why? Because it’s a known fact that the more you own, the less you wear.
You’re a label you-know-what.
As fashion lovers, it’s a given that our inner Sybarite will occasionally emerge. Nothing shameful about that—most designer things are beautiful—but if you’re buying simply for a label and the item isn’t really your taste, well, isn’t that silly? Next time you’re shopping, really look at each item and decide if you really love it, or you’re supposed to love it because of the label.
You give into every sale email, flash sale, or promotion.
While online sale emails and flash sites can be fantastic if you’re legitimately in the market for something, they can be pretty dangerous for the casual shopper who—when she woke up this morning—had no idea she needed or wanted, say, a $700 Phillip Lim sweatshirt until she got an email that it’s 20% off. If you’ve been itching for a certain item and fortuitously see it happens to be on Gilt today, go for it.
But if you’re ready to pony up $500 in five seconds for a skirt you’ve never seen before, well, you might want to step away from the computer and revisit the item when your dopamine levels recede.
You’re a retail snob.
Legitimately stylish women will troll any—and we mean any—store with zero snob factor, yet they stay true to their aesthetic.
For example, she won’t be afraid to pop into a cheesy-seeming teen store at the mall, but that doesn’t mean she’ll leave with the same things her 12-year-old cousin would. She might find some killer black leggings, a shrunken blazer, the perfect pair of skinny jeans, or some great costume jewelry.
Same goes for fast-fashion haunts like Forever 21, dusty old thrift stores, and off-price havens like TJ Maxx, Marshalls, and Century 21, which are consistently packed with great stuff at non-sucker prices.
You constantly forget to return.
Yeah, life gets busy, but if you’re just so busy that you can’t make it to the post office to return that $100 jacket that doesn’t fit, or make it back to the store to get your money back for the $50 top you decided you didn’t like, well, you’re literally taking money, throwing it up in the air, and walking away. We’d call that a big mistake.