When I first started thinking about the idea of making a post about intentional shopping, I didn’t think it was even a thing. I thought maybe it was just something I made up. As I sat down to write this, I decided to do a little research and found out that I am not the first to come up with this. Maybe, however, the idea and definition of intentional shopping differs from person to person. I want to talk about what it means to me and how it may be apply to your shopping habits.
What is intentional shopping?
For me, intentional shopping is the opposite of impulse shopping. It is taking the time to think about purchases prior to making them. It is about asking yourself questions and identifying how items will fit into your wardrobe or your life prior to making a purchase. This can be incorporated into many realms of your life, but I really want to focus on how it relates to fashion which is when I use this concept the most. It is the way I check myself to make sure I am not wasting my money. I want to purchase items I will actually wear.
Why I do this?
I realized that when I am intentional about my shopping, I am making better purchases. I have started focusing on quality vs quantity and keeping with the classics. Since I have been intentional of my purchases, I actually have bought less items but been able to find more outfits in my closet than ever before. Part of intentional shopping has really helped me focus on classic pieces, quality basics, and keeping with the essentials.
What do I do?
Before I make a purchase, I give myself at least 24 hours to think it over. This way I am not letting my impulsivity get the best of me. i ask myself several questions before I shop. I look at and evaluate what I already have in my closet. If the item is a bit more expensive, I give myself at least 48 hours to evaluate.
During this process, I ask myself several questions. These questions may vary from person to person but these are what have worked for me.
1. How does this item fit into my wardrobe and lifestyle?
-With this question I evaluate if I have something already like it. Do I really need anymore black crewneck sweaters? If I already have similar items then I really don’t need it. It will just make my closet more jumbled and it pushes the perfectly fine stuff I already had into the pile of forgotten items.
-I also evaluate how it will match with items I already have in my closet. If it is a dress, do I have shoes to wear it with? If not then I either have to spend more money on shoes to match it or else it will just sit unworn in my closet. If it is a top, do I have bottoms to match it?
-I also evaluate where I would wear it. I work full time so five days/week I go to a job where I need to dress a bit more professional. I don’t need to wear a black power suit but I can’t just wear jeans or sweats. Is the item in question something I could wear to work? If not, is it something I would wear on weekends? Sure, the possibility could be there for anything. Yes, I COULD wear that halter crop to on the weekends, but would I really do that? What do my weekends look like? Usually it is something with the kids like the park or a fun activity. Usually there is a project around the house or errands we are working on. That item would not fit into my regular lifestyle. It might be cute but it is not practical. It would sit in my closet or drawer and go unused. If I don’t wear it then it essentially was a waste of money.
2. Is it worth the money?
-Can I find the same or comparable item for less money? If I do find it for less, am I giving up quality and wearability? Sure there are items you can find that are less money but will that mean it will wear bad after washing? Will it start ripping or getting holes after a short time? Usually the reviews of the item will provide you with this information. What is the fabric made of? I don’t necessarily have the answers for you in regards to a checklist of what is important. I know what is important to me. Natural fabrics are important. If there are two t-shirts that are 100% cotton that have the same fit, both from brands that are known for quality, then I would choose the less expensive version.
I try to avoid buying something for brand alone. If a Gucci white tshirt looks the same as a JCrew tee, I would op to save money and get the JCrew tee. However, I would probably choose JCrew over Walmart brand because I believe in the reliability and quality of JCrew over a Walmart tee that may not wear nicely after a couple washes. That is just my preference though. What features are important are a matter of personal choice and preference. I would recommend what features of an item are important and weigh your options. The features of a tee are different than that of a pair of dress pants or jeans. Maybe it is material. Maybe it is brand. Maybe it is sustainability or where it is made.
3. Is it a trend or a classic?
Honestly, I try to just buy and wear what I like and not something that is “in style”. You know the problem with things that are in style? They go out of style. As I have gotten older I have grown to appreciate the idea of classic pieces, versatile pieces, items that I can wear over and over. I try to spend more on key basics and less on those fun, less basic pieces because I know I will get more use and wear out of the basics.
There are some items that deserve a little more splurging on. These are those classic, versatile wardrobe must haves that need to be in your closet. These are things that I tend to spend a little more on and I find more valuable are:
- Neutral colored dress pants, particularly black, brown, and navy blue: Grey is another option. I also prefer to have at least one pair of white pants. I buy alot of my pants from Ann Taylor, JCrew, Banana Republic or Talbots because they have quality with a decent price point. If you have some extra money to spend, I would try Theory.
- Basic, neutral colored tees: I like to make sure I have at least a white, black and a grey tshirt. I prefer to have them in short sleeves, long sleeves, tank top and turtleneck version. They either get worn alone or as layering pieces. I often shop for these at JCrew.
- Denim: A quality, good fitting pair of jeans are important and I want them to last. Everlane is a good place to try. They have fit me well and always have a great shape even after washing. I also shop for denim at JCrew, Ann Taylor, Talbots, and Levi’s. Of course body type is important when denim shopping. I have a curvy figure with wider hips and butt so these stores have been consistent in their sizing.
- Basic sweaters: I recently did a post about basic crewneck sweaters HERE. These are items that I wear pretty much everyday if not weekly when the weather starts getting old. I also make sure I have some thicker, cable knit options available and turtleneck sweaters too. Make sure you have the neutrals first and then after that you can add the fun pinks, reds, purples,etc. I wear a camel, navy, ivory, and black sweaters the most. I also like to have some basic cardigans for layering, and of course at least one cashmere sweater!
- Blazer: Every woman needs at least one black blazer. Go ahead and splurge on this. It is an item that you will wear and wear again. You want it to last you. You want it fit you beautifully and yet be comfortable enough.
- Button downs: if you don’t have a white button down then you need to go. It is ok to splurge a bit on this. This is one of the most versatile tops you can own and can wear it with EVERYTHING! Wear it with a pair of jeans. Wear it under your blazer. Wear it under a sweater for a cute layer. With the amount of wear you will get, you need a good quality shirt. You don’t want one that you can see right through. You don’t want one that will lose it’s shape or be at risk of getting holes or having stitching issues. You don’t need to think about a white button down. Get it.
- Shoes: The shoes you need are a loafer, a black and brown one. You need a ballet flat. You can wear them as a dress shoe or even as something casual. You want it to be comfortable. You need a white sneaker, an ankle boot, and a boot with a taller shaft. I like to have at least a black and brown in each of the types. These are items you can invest in. They take a lot of wear and tear and cheaper versions start losing their leather, ripping, breaking, etc. I mean even the most expensive shoe will lost a part of the heel if worn enough because it wears away. That is a cheap and easy fix but the rest of the shoe is not a cheap or easy fix. Invest in it so they last!
- Other options: Some people do not like to wear skirts or dresses so that is why I put this as an extra. A great shift dress and a basic pencil skirt are other options to have in your wardrobe. They are versatile and functional.
After your wardrobe is full of these key basics, that is when I would really put into place the intentional shopping. Examples are frilly tops, tops with different patterns, different colored blazers or with different patterns, patterned or colorful sweaters, colorful pants and skirts, patterned shoes, patterned purses, etc. Does that mean you shouldn’t buy those items? Of Course Not!!!! I have them. I wear them. I love them. But how many ways are you going to wear that floral, ruffled top? How many times will you get use out of it? Do you have something similar? Patterned shoes can’t be worn with everything. The snakeskin loafers in my picture can’t be worn everyday with every style, but I still bought a pair. I wear them just not as much as my basic shoes. What you may not know is that I bought the snakeskin loafers on sale! I did not want to pay full price for something that I won’t get so much use out of.
That takes me to my last question:
4. Can I wait until it is on sale?
Let’s face it. Most items these days go on sale. Unless it is a designer brand, the item will probably go on sale in a few weeks or at the end of the season. Is it something you can live without until then? This helps to save money on the less frequented items in your closet. But remember, still be intentional. Stocking up on a bunch of sale items you only wear once is still a waste of money. Still put into practice the questions I posted prior. How does it fit into your wardrobe and lifestyle? Is it worth the money? Is it just a trend or a classic item that you will wear for years to come?