11 Tips for Shopping More Wisely in 2016

a post from Julie


2015 was a good year for me, shopping-wise. I discovered thrift stores, didn't purchase a single piece of "fast fashion," started investing in more versatile, kon mari-approved basics, and, in two ruthless editing sessions that made my husband proud, donated or consigned a few big boxes of stuff. To kick off 2016, I wanted to share a few of my guiding principles in hopes of giving you the motivation and inspiration to make your own changes (and, since we're being honest... to keep me accountable, too). 

1. Needs-based shopping. Buy only when you need something something you own is ripped, worn, irreparably stained, doesn't fit... in other words, think of shopping as a survival activity.

2. Build your basics with intention. I hear 2016 is the year of comfy underwear. No complaints here! But, before you run to Target for a cheap, cheeky update, check out your more ethical and sustainable options for something you can really feel good about wearing. PACT Apparel has some great options that are fair trade, Elegantees is a stylish resource for tops and tees that are actually affordable, Synergy is an organic option that's simple, lovely, and so so soft, and Patagonia and prAna are two big companies doing some great stuff in terms of ethics and sustainability. But here's the thing: Don't rush into gathering everything you need all at once. Again, replace what you have when you need to.

3. Look for investments. If we're being more conscious about our shopping, we'll have the financial room to spend $150 on that sweater that may, quite literally, last our lifetime. It often helps me to sleep on a big ticket item (if I'm still dreaming about it in the morning, watch out, wallet!) and hunt through my closet to make sure it can be worn with many of the pieces I already own. 

4. Insist on versatility. If it only pairs one way, use caution. The more ways you can wear a piece, the more value you get out of it. Think of it as stretching your dollar further. Choose tanks that can layer, tops that can hold their own through all the local seasons, and leggings or skinny cuts that you're comfortable working solo or under boots. 

5. Focus on narrowing down, not building up. Trends are fleeting; style is not. By now, you probably know what cuts and fits are flattering, so chuck what's not. I read a great tip somewhere to, on the 1st of the year, put all your hangers backwards and flip as you wear and wash each piece. Then, by the end of the year, if there are any "hangers of shame," donate that sucker! Make room for what matters.

6. Find what works and stick to it. I don't know about you, but I do not enjoy trying clothes on. It's a chore, it takes forever, and all those mirrors, well, it's easy to get discouraged when things aren't looking just right. So, to take some of the pressure off, carve out a chunk of time, sneak in some snacks (or a pick-me-up drink  can't blame you!), grab an armload of styles you'd like to try out, and camp out in the changing room to see what works for you. Be sure to bring along some of your most-worn basics so you can give your new finds a fair test run.  

7. Never, ever buy something if it doesn't fit just right, right now. Guilty, right here. I always think, oh, I'll be smaller in the summer. Has it ever happened? Occasionally, but it's sure not worth the closet space and money to bank on body changes. 

8. Don't be shy about making returns. Leave the tags on and wear your new purchase around the house first to be sure it's really and truly everything you were hoping for. If there's any doubt, you can return it with a clean conscience and a grateful wallet.

9. Go easy on patterns and embellishments. I like the idea of giving in to one really amazing trend-based piece each year. I can't say no to everything! But, as a general rule, it's the pretty patterns and oh-so-unique details that most quickly move to the back of the closet. Rely on your accessories to make the visual impact.

10. Be wary of opportunity, but seize some. Maybe there's a great sale from one of your favorite brands, or something at the thrift store that you don't need but would certainly wear next season. If it's a deal that won't come around again soon and a piece that hits all the marks of fit, versatility, and longevity, don't feel bad about indulging. A penny saved now can be a penny earned later (plus, you can always wrap it up and give it to yourself when the time is right). If a brand discounts once, chances are, they'll do it again.

11. Two words: Thrift stores. If your first reaction is "ugh," so is mine. It's exhausting to go through racks and racks to find something  anything!  and I'm not one of those people who are always making the lucky finds. But, talk about eco-friendly and sustainable. It's also (shh) a way to cheat and wear selections from brands you can't get behind because your money isn't going to them and funding their practices. Besides, many thrift stores have their own causes they're funding, so you're doing good with your purchases this way, too!


Some shopping resources to bookmark:

PACT Apparel
socks, underwear, leggings, and tanks

yoga gear and activewear with good origins (many offerings are bluesign® certified, recycled, or fair trade)

outdoor gear for an active lifestyle from a company making all the right moves

affordable tees, tops, and dresses sewn by trafficking survivors and fit for every body

more >