Shopping shouldn’t be an impulsive experience. With the wealth of items available for sale in virgin and secondhand markets, we benefit financially and practically from being constructive critics in the fitting room. Read on for 10 questions to ask yourself before taking an item to the register to add to your wardrobe.
This past weekend, my sisters and I all trekked back home for a few days to celebrate one of my sisters being inducted into the state high school softball hall of fame where we grew up. Truth be told, I knew she was a good softball player, but I didn’t know she was that good! Hopefully, she forgives my ignorance (which I attribute primarily to being tied up in my own world as a selfish teenager).
All home together, we ventured out to the thrift shop for a Saturday morning excursion. We left the kids at home and several of us took to the aisles of Savers in search of a few things to fill gaps in our wardrobe.
None of us are hobby shoppers. When we need a little closet refresh though, we all appreciate browsing through the racks of the local secondhand store in our town to see what we might score.
Low Prices Don’t Always Mean Good Deals
Although the prices might be low, it’s still important to be diligent and thoughtful about what we purchase at the thrift shop. After all, if we’re not really going to wear it and love it, it’s not a great deal no matter how much it costs.
I can’t count the number of times I’ve repeated “If you don’t absolutely love it, don’t buy it!” when shopping with my sisters. It’s easy to sift through the thrift shop racks and buy lots of items at such low prices, but we benefit from being good critics of our purchases, even when they are secondhand and not necessarily breaking the bank.
Related Reading: Complete Guide to Secondhand Shopping
The Right Time To Be a Critic
Standing in a thrift shop fitting room (or any fitting room, really) is a great time to be thoughtful and critical about how much we love a piece of clothing we’re considering. Whether the price is right because it’s secondhand, you’re being tempted by the ‘latest and greatest’ 40% off sale, or you’re swooning over the latest fad, critique the item in question before tossing it in your bag.
Ask yourself the following questions every time you’re in a dressing room to be sure you’re welcoming into your closet something that’s deserving of the money, space, and future stress you’re offering it.
10 Critical Questions To Pose in The Fitting Room Before Purchasing
Would I choose this size if every size was available?
If minor alternations could make it the perfect fit, it might be worth the purchase. If it’s never going to fit properly, however, don’t waste your money on a piece with which you’ll forever be fidgeting and fixing.
Would I buy this item if I hadn’t seen it on so many other people?
Trends can be hard to ignore, but most style trends only flatter certain body types. If a trend isn’t working for you (which is perfectly fine), let it pass and focus on clothes that work for your shape and style.
Do I feel comfortable in this?
Clothes that make us feel self-conscious are the worst. If the style, cut, or fit will be top of mind all day, forego the mental load of worrying all day about whether the style is right. We have plenty of other things to contemplate in life beyond being self-conscious about our clothes.
Would I buy it if it wasn’t so deeply discounted?
Like I mentioned above, it’s not a good deal if you never wear it no matter how much it costs! Even if it’s free, it will take up physical space in your closet and emotional space in your style decisions. Leave it on the rack if the price is the only reason drawing you to the piece.
Can I wear it without worrying about the fit and adjusting it all day?
I’ve bought my fair share of items from thrift shops that didn’t fit quite right. Honestly, I can think of a couple still living in my closet now. If you don’t feel great in the outfit in the fitting room, it definitely won’t be comfortable when you’re sitting, standing and moving around all day. Ditch it before it drives you crazy.
Do I absolutely love this?
If you don’t love it on day one, chances are you’ll never love it. More often than not, items lose their luster over time. If you feel a little “meh” about it, pass on it. It’s not worth the space and stress it will generate down the road.
Do I have other items in my closet to wear with it?
Sometimes a piece looks perfect on the rack. That leather jacket is a gem. Those shoes are magic. If you have nothing with which to wear them, however, they’ll just collect dust. Even if you only have one or two things to pair with a new item, consider if it’s worth the purchase. Our most loved pieces tend to be the ones we can rely on again and again.
Do I need this to fill an (honest) gap in my wardrobe?
We all have favorites, and it’s easy to end up with a whole lot of the same old favorites in our clothes. If you wear the same thing every day by design, by all means, stick with your style preference. But if you already have five black t-shirts in your wardrobe and don’t wear them every day of the week, skip on clothes you already have stocked on your shelves. Save space for items that will fill true gaps in your wardrobe.
Is the item made of a high quality material?
With fast fashion ever growing, the volume of poorly-made clothes continues to explode. They are easy to find and even easier to destroy because they fall apart in the blink of an eye.
If you’re buying fast fashion secondhand, it’s fair to argue that it’s fine to buy poor quality gear. It’s already in the market, after all, so you’re breathing new life into it (even if it’s only one or two extra wears) without generating demand for virgin pieces.
None-the-less, don’t forget that low-quality materials typically don’t wear as well and aren’t as flattering. Save space for the diamonds in the rough made of high-quality materials that are surely hanging on the thrift store racks.
Does it need to be dry cleaned or require special washing instructions?
Try to avoid clothes that require dry cleaning or special washing instructions. Many dry cleaning services use harsh chemicals that are bad for the environment and for the employees who perform the service. There are greener dry cleaning alternatives, but it’s still expensive and a giant pain to drop off and pick up clothes from the cleaners.
Related Reading: What’s The Deal With Clothing Care Symbols?
Try to stick to clothes that have standard washing instructions. They can be washed together, limiting the number of loads and also saving you time and money.
Related Reading: 6 Small Changes For Big Impact in Your Laundry Room
Next time you’re in the fitting room, thrift store or not, be honest with yourself about how each article of clothing flatters you and how much you really love it. Are you going to wear it 30 times? Will you love pulling it out of your closet each time you wear it? Is it really worthy of the resources you’re about to allocate it?
Unless the answer is a resounding yes, move on. There are plenty of fancy fish in the style sea.