From ASOS to Zara: How to Avoid Buyer's Remorse

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Chloe new york

Photo Credit: ELLE

I love shopping. Not only do I get to stock up on really cute clothes and accessories, but the process can be a fun distraction when I have a lot on my plate. I didn't always feel so relieved to be shopping, however - up until a few years ago I actually dreaded buying new things. The reason lies in buyer's remorse and how I learned to avoid regretting my purchases.

I love my mother, too, but I grew up watching her poor shopping habits. She only browsed the sale racks and would return about 75% of the things she bought. The rest of the stuff was tossed into the closet and rarely worn - shunned in favor of a few acquired pieces she actually liked. I eventually followed in her footsteps, buying cheap things I didn't enjoy wearing. At the end of each season I had full bags of discarded clothes marked "to be donated," and I had to start the traumatizing process over again.

Buy with your heart.

Audrey shopping

Photo Credit: ELLE

As I grew more frustrated with the shopping process and envious of the classic style I saw on my favorite fashion blogs, I somehow had one of those mythical epiphanies. What if I bought with my heart rather than my wallet? That's not to say that budgeting isn't important (it really is!), but if I stopped buying so many things simply because they were marked down would I be able to actually love my closet?

The answer is yes. I started a new process where I refused to look at the price tag of an item until after I had made an initial judgement. If I didn't want to wear it, I put it back. Without. Checking. The. Tag.

If you're like me, looking at the price of an item will confuse you and cause you to hype up an item you don't really love simply because it's a steal. But a good deal is only really a steal when you are getting something you will love and value. If you wouldn't be tempted to buy it for regular price, then you don't need it.

Stop thinking about cost and start thinking about connection.

Woman with shoe choices

Photo Credit: ELLE

Another principle that goes along with buying with your heart is determining whether the item is a need. Economists talk about wants and needs, but I think purchases can be summed up as "needs" and "kind-of-needs.

If you fell head-over-heels in love with an item and walk out of the store still thinking about it if you don't buy it, it's a need. I think needs are those pieces you remember and want days after a shopping trip, once the other things you sorted through have faded away. Kind-of-needs are more forgettable and easily replaceable - they're not the "perfect one."

Kind-of-needs are not always bad and can be fun filler pieces that you rotate through as the year progresses. But never spend more than you feel comfortable with simply because you are already holding the item and think you might be able to make it work. With needs you know you can make it work and are now left to decide whether an item is worth splurging on.

If you find a need on sale, congratulations! But sometimes you're left with the hard choice of spending more than you usually would in exchange for something you can wear time and time again. If the item in question is versatile, you can imagine wearing it in two years, and you haven't found another substitute that comes close, go ahead and buy it!

If the price really is freaking you out, consider what you could do with the money instead. You could go out to eat with friends, you could invest it, or see a few movies. If you consider these other options and would sacrifice them to buy the item, you probably won't regret it.

What's funny is that I don't look back when I spend $60 on something I truly love, but will forever question something I bought for $13 if I think the money could have been better spent. When you stop feeling doubt about that skirt, jacket, or purse and instead feel excited about wearing it you know it's time. You want your closet to feel personally connected to you rather than a hodgepodge of unloved items.

Search for quality.

Jeans cut up

Photo Credit: ELLE

Before I started shopping smartI made a lot of bad investments in t-shirts, jeans, and other staple items that were low quality. These items are considered staples for a reason - they should last in your wardrobe through the seasons. I found myself with three black tanks that were decently priced but either didn't fit well, tore easily, or were too sheer. If I had thought through these purchases I would have had a list of "must-haves".

When searching for an item you know you want to keep long-term, make a list of quality checks before you even enter the store. For example, if I was shopping for my ideal jeans I would look for a pair that was stitched with care, the right shade of denim, and hit a certain place on my ankle. By having these kinds of qualifiers, you can avoid looking too long at items that you will eventually regret.

Make your existing wardrobe work.

Light colored clothing Paris boutique

Photo Credit: ELLE

I have a big problem picking out flouncy skirts, oversized sweaters, and patterned Vans that will never match with anything in my closet. It's not fun to come home and realize that the new jacket you have is a bright yellow that won't match with anything. You are stuck with either returning the item or spending even more on new clothes to pair it with.

So think back to whether the item is a need. If it is, you might be okay buying a few colored tanks to match that floral skirt. If it's not a need, you probably won't want to take the time to make it work and will regret spending the money.

Analyze past spending habits, honestly.

20 dollar bills

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It took me a while to listen to my gut and realize that I was buying needlessly. After all, it's never fun to admit you've spent who knows how much money on things you don't even own anymore. But post-purchase rationalization is a powerful force that can cloud good judgement.

Post-purchase rationalization is that overwhelming urge to love a product even after a little voice in your head tells you that you made a mistake. By justifying mistakes you may never realize you're spending unwisely. So even though it hurts, take the time to ask yourself why you bought the clothes you own, and whether you actually enjoy wearing them. It can save you money and protect you from regret in the future!

What do you think?

Did these tips make it easier to avoid buyer's remorse? Do you suffer from regretting purchases soon after? How do you usually deal with these mistakes? Let me know in the comments!

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