I’ve been on a mission to avoid buying clothes I hate for the past few years. I’ve been pretty disciplined about it but I can get swayed off my righteous path quite easily. Every time I go to Bali or Byron Bay, I think it’s a super rad idea to buy long hippy skirts with bells on them and flouncy lace wrap shirts. Which are obviously gorgeous but are not in any way my style. I’m a Melbourne minimalist and most of the time I remember this… until a street hawker tries to sell me a tie-dyed t-shirt similar to the one I saw on a bronze goddess down at the beach and then I’m like ‘Shut up and take my money… and also I’ll have lots of beads and turquoise silver rings too, please… also, where can I get my hair wrapped?’
This is by no means a trait that is exclusive to women. I had to pry a New York baseball cap out of Mr Smaggle’s hands at a Brooklyn market once. ‘No! You are not a glistening blonde yacht hunk! Put it down!’. We also had a rather unfortunate oatmeal coloured linen shirt situation in Thailand. That was bad. I also bought a sari when I was in India. It seemed like a good idea at the time but when you get back to Australia you’re just an idiot tourist with an amazing sari that you will never have a use for.
The solution to most of life’s problems is awareness. Once you’re aware – you can make changes to fix these issues.
Here are a few things I definitely DON’T regret buying…
Sweater dress from Country Road – I actually bought this at the airport but it ticked ALL my boxes. Close to 100% cotton, stretch, versatile colour and totally comfortable.
Clogs from Funkis – I bought the open toe version of these for summer and wore nothing else so I didn’t hesitate to buy the closed toe winter version. Comfy and toasty warm when worn with merino tights.
Things I do to make sure I avoid buying clothes I don’t like…
1. Ask yourself if you would throw away what you’re currently wearing to have the new item in your life
You’re not ACTUALLY going to do it but if you had to swap what you’re currently wearing for what you’re currently buying, would you do it? If the answer is no, walk away. That sounds harsh but you should be properly delighted by most of the stuff in your wardrobe. Even gym gear. If you don’t love it, you won’t wear it, you’ll just keep wearing your favourite stuff. The solution is to not let anything inferior in your house. That way you’ll always only have awesome stuff. I did this a few months ago. I went to buy some exercise shorts and I almost bought the best of the 5 pairs I tried on when I realised I really, really didn’t like them. I was just desperate for something cooler than tights to wear to the gym but these shorts were kind of bunchy and unflattering. They went back on the shelf. I was trying to solve one problem by creating another. It’s always worth waiting for a better solution to the problem.
2. Sit down in it. Do you look cute?
The sit-down test is essential and should never, ever be skipped. I skipped it once for this cute sack dress and it was a huge mistake. This dress looks adorable when I’m standing up and makes me look almost petite (at 5’8 and a size 14 that’s quite the achievement) and when I’m sitting down it makes like like an inflatable donut pool toy. I still wear it but only to cocktail parties where I know I’ll be standing up most of the time. It’s also made of a carpet style material which is itchy AF when I sit on it. It’s like going back to primary school and getting itchy grass butt. I could have avoided this if I did the sit-down test.
3. Ask yourself what you actually love about the item
If the answer is nothing, don’t buy it. If the answer is ‘It fits.’ don’t buy it. If the answer is ‘It’s fine.’ don’t buy it. If you can’t find even one thing you truly LOVE about it, don’t do it. Just don’t. Never settle. Your favourite ever outfit is better than this inferior try hard. You just have to believe it. It’s also better to wear an outfit you feel amazing in, that you’ve worn a dozen times than something new that you don’t feel quite right in.
4. Jump up, squat down, run around, throw your hands over your head. Now relax. Do you look cute? Do you feel cute?
I gave up uncomfortable clothing years ago and I’ve never looked back. If you have to do things like never raise your arms above your head, only ever sit with your shoulders at a certain angle, wear breathtaking shapewear under the item or hold your stomach in constantly DO NOT BUY IT. If you move around and you have to re-adjust the item for 5 minutes to get it to look right again DO NOT BUY IT.
5. Look at the colour/pattern. Look carefully. Do you hate it?
I used to wear straight black pretty much all the time and now I rarely do that. I love patterns but I have to very careful about them. I recently went to a very ‘me’ store that is usually full of patterns I love. I tried on one of their classic cut dresses that fits me perfectly and I was mighty pleased with myself. I stared and stared in the mirror at the perfectly fitted dress and then I realised what was wrong. I fucking hated the pattern. Hated. It. It was pale pink with big dirty brown and green splodgy flowers on it. I was ignoring the pattern because the fit was so great but you know what? I just wouldn’t have worn it. It was hard putting a dress back on the rack that made my legs look like Olympic ice dancer legs but it was the only way forward.