Monday, October 18, 2010

How to Stretch Your Closet: The Question That Will Change Your Life

shopping.png{we heart it}

Its been a few weeks since I blogged about getting the most out of what you have hanging in your closet, and with fall fashions upon us, I'm needing my own reminder now more than ever. I find myself lingering in front of store windows longer and swearing I need every single article of clothing that passes through "the store's" doors. And while I'm all about stretching, I have to be honest...its impossible for me NOT buy anything for fall. No matter how much Matt protests "you don't need anything," I'm a girl with fashion cravings that has to indulge every once in a while. But those indulgances can't be often, as funds are limited, and I don't want my American Express to burst into flames while trying to buy groceries. (Because while I don't need that fabulous scarf, I do need that milk and bread.)  So when I do shop, when I do decide what few pieces I am going to add to my closet, I have to be smart, and I have to be picky.

Stretching your closet is mostly about making the most of what you already have hanging in your closet, but a portion of it is also about making the most of the money you am spend when you do decide to shop. I guess its more like "stretching your fashion dollar." And lucky for me (and my bank account) I have discovered an incredibly short, yet amazingly powerful question to ask myself when I'm shopping. This one little question has literally transformed my shopping, buying, and wearing habits.

"Do I LOVE this?"

Ok, good.  Say it again.

"Do I love this?"

Nice, job.  But say it one more time, this time slowing down and exaggerating the movement of your mouth as you say the L-word.

"Do I loooooove this?"

Alright, now that you've indulged me, and repeated this so many times your roommate, spouse, cat, or neighbor are giving you strange looks, let's take a second to recognize questions we're not asking.

"Do I really, really, really like this?"
"Do I think this is super cute?"
"Do I almost totally love this?"

None of those questions are the same as, "Do I love this?"  So what's up with the emphasis on love?  Well, my mom started asking me this question years ago when we used to shop.  You know, when I still thought money grew on trees and Mastercard was another word for free-so-you-never-have-to-pay card.  In those days, I used to roll my eyes when she asked me that, before stomping back to the dressing room after an exasperated, "No, I guess not."  But when I began to buy my own stuff, and I realized you actually had to pay off that credit card bill, that question suddenly became my best friend.

"Do I love this?" doesn't just mean, at first glance, does it make my heart go pitter patter?  "Do I love this?" means when I put it on, and I'm standing in front of the fitting room mirror, do I love it?  Do I love the way it looks, do I love the way it fits, do I love the color on me, do I love the way it makes my body look, do I love the feel of the fabric?  Notice its not about I like the way it looks, fits, feels, and hangs.  Like is not enough.

You see, in my opinion, there are lots of cute clothes out there, lots of things I like.  But I'm not a bazillionaire, and I don't have a yacht sized closet, so I can't buy everything I like.  I have to stick with things that I love, things that are perfect.  Still not so sure?  Lets do a little experiment.  Think about the last time you had a closet purge.  (You know, when you pick through your closet to get rid of things that you no longer wear, like, or fit into.)  Ok, so think back to the last time you did that.  Think about the things you got rid of, the things you decided you didn't want anymore.  I'm going to guess that for 90% of that stuff, you had some sort of doubt, hesitation, or wish when buying it.  Examples: "I like this, but I wish it were a little longer....This is cute, but the color is a little off...This isn't quite what I've been looking for, but its cheap, so I'll get it...Its a little short, but with tights I'm sure it'll be fine."  Am I right?  I see you shaking your head, and no, I'm not psychic, I've just been there before.  I started asking myself that a few years ago, and I was ashamed at my answer.  Sure, there were one or two things that had worn out or been ruined in the wash, but for the most part, the things I purged were things I simply "liked" when I bought them, not loved.

So I'm challenging you to give my love question a shot.  If the fit isn't perfect, if the color isn't the exact shade you want, say no.  If the fabric doesn't feel right, and you don't like the cut of the skirt, put it back.  If you like something but can't exactly figure out why you don't love it, don't fret, just walk away.  I swear by this question yall.  Because its a heck of a lot easier to stretch your closet when its filled with things you love, rather than things you like.


Katie said...

This is such great advice, Allison -- Thanks for sharing!

Ashley Stone said...

good tips! I need to keep that in mind, sometimes I buy stuff just cause it's on sale, or I think it's cute.. but it goes with nothing I own! I have several things with tags still on that I never wear.

Inspired Kara said...

I once read you shouldn't buy anything that doesn't make you want to do a little dance. Same participle and life changing indeed! It has totally transformed my shopping :)

Other questions I ask myself:
- "Would you have even tried this on or considered buying it if it were full price?"
- "Would you rather save this money and put it towards something at Anthro?" :)

Tinfoils Tiaras said...

Great advice! I'm currently reading "Bitches on a Budget" which has some much needed advice about how to be a smart shopper! (although it's tempting with all the new Fall/Winter clothes out there!)

xo Emily

Whitney said...

I can't tell you how many times my mom has asked me this question shopping. And then re-asked it after I say "yes" immediately with a stretched inflection in her voice.

"Do you loooooooooooove it love it?"

Also an important questions I ask myself now -

Will I love this in five years? And, will I be embarrassed for my kids to see pictures of me in this?

Kinsey Michaels said...

this question usually helps me avoid buying everything I see in sight that I consider "cute"!
Case in point - was shopping at TJ Maxx a couple of nights ago and found an adorable sweater with unique button detailing down the back. I loved it, sure, but the color wasn't me. It was a weird beige/tan color that would have washed me out no matter how adorable the sweater was otherwise. I left it there and didn't buy it!