Have you ever looked in your closet and noticed that you have too much of the same particular items, be it black pants, dresses, sweaters, or whatever? I have this problem with cardigans. I don’t have too many of them, I just don’t need anymore. A recent shopping trip for myself made me realize just how easy it could for me to go from “plenty of cardigans” to “way too many cardigans” if I didn’t pay attention to my shopping habits. I also realized that this may be why many women might have too much of the same thing in their closets.
During a fall shopping trip last week I was on the hunt for tops; basic, easy, casual tops. This sort of task hardly seems like it should be all that hard but I was having a heck of a time finding any I liked or fit me well. However, I did see plenty of cardigans I just loved. Each time I picked one up to consider it I had to remind myself that I had plenty of cardigans at home and that my need in this area was well covered. I didn’t need cardigans, I needed tops, dammit. Reminding myself of this, I would put the cardigans down to keep looking for tops while thinking, “I will not buy a new cardigan, I will not buy a new…ooh, that’s pretty. Crap, stop it, you don’t need a cardigan” as I continued my top search.
Purchasing clothing by need isn’t as nearly as fun as buying clothing by want. Yet, buying by want is what creates bloated closets, split wears (which means having too much of the same thing in your closet and, ultimately, less value from everything you own) and the madness of having a ton of clothing and still nothing to wear. I see this syndrome constantly in the closets of clients.
Yet, in addition to shopping by want, there is also the syndrome of shopping by ease. Shopping by ease is the act of overbuying what we know works, again and again…and again. It’s why I am practically one cardigan away from too many, why you might have too many pairs of black pants and why you have clothing with tags still attached. Shopping by ease makes it practically impossible to leave the store empty handed. It’s the usefulness of that item, when you have a ton of similar items already in your closet, that is the problem.
It’s hard to turn anything down in a store that you really love, has a wow factor or you know will flatter your figure. I have a client who has the perfect dress body, particularly Tahari dresses. After working with her for several years now she really doesn’t need any more work dresses, she has plenty. However, it’s also hard to say no to a dress that she tries on and looks smashing on her. The more filled her dress needs are the more discerning we need to be with new ones that look good on her, and that can be hard. How do you pass up something that is so perfect?
Additionally, women shop by ease because they know they’ll be able to walk out of the store carrying a new purchase which can feel very exhilarating for any woman. To keep this good feeling alive many women will go back to the same well over and over again and buy the same type of items even if they don’t need them. Doing this is a lot more fun than not finding anything and leaving the store with nothing new. As much as I didn’t need a new cardigan, I had to do everything in my power to stay away from them. When I did this I had this odd feeling, like someone was trying to ruin my fun and I found myself getting irritable over something so trivial. My rational mind kept reminding me that I didn’t need anymore cardigans and the indulgent and emotional side of me didn’t care about needs exclaiming, “Yippeee, this is fun, who cares about being responsible. Buy it, you’ll figure out what to do with it later!” Thankfully, I could reason with myself and listen to my rational side. After all, how can I wear all these cardigans if I have nothing to put under them?
If you’ve ever found yourself in this conundrum, or can identify that you have way too many of a particular item type in your wardrobe, this is something you might want to get a handle on. Here are some tips for overcoming the syndrome of shopping by ease.
This is a well known rule that can be used for the parts of your wardrobe where you have too much and need to pair down. Anytime something new comes into your closet, something old in that same category has to go. In fact, you can take it a step further and challenge yourself by trying to letting go of two things for every one thing you purchase.
#2- Tame the toddler
We’re all adults, right? Right? Have you ever told a toddler that they can’t have another piece of candy or can’t take a ride on the mechanical horsey outside the pharmacy? Good lord, are you kidding me with how they react? Well, guess what, we never really grow out of this. Yes, most of us are grown up enough not to flail on the floor in tears, however, we still deal with the emotion when we can’t just get what we want the second we want it, and this can be uncomfortable. The next time you are in a store and want to buy something you don’t need, deny yourself and just observe your emotion. Do you feel restricted, are you upset, angry, disappointed, what are the uncomfortable emotions that creep up? Don’t fight them or try to change them, just observe them. In this moment, think of yourself like a parent who holds a hard line with their tantrum-throwing child. You know the one who lets the kid lose it and doesn’t coddle them? This parent is smart enough to know that, in time, the child will calm down and forget about what they were trying to get. Instead of just reacting or pacifying yourself when you are experiencing the emotion of want, deny yourself and know that, in time it will pass and that there is a good chance you will forget about needing the item you were salivating over earlier in the day.
#3- Think about all the money you will save
I talked earlier about splitting your wears, a common trap of women who have too much of the same thing. What happens when you split your wears is that you never get the full value from anything you own. Let’s say you have five little black dresses. Your one need for a black dress now has to spread over five dresses and, unless you are Audrey Hepburn, your life will probably never call for the need to wear that many. On the other hand, let’s say you have two little black dresses. Instead of your need of a black dress being spread over five dresses, it’s spread over two which means that you’ll get a lot more wear from less. The more you wear an item, the better the value. Plus, all that money wasted on multiple items of the same thing can go towards the actual needs in your wardrobe.
#4- Find something else to thrill you
There is nothing wrong with enjoying shopping, however, it can become a problem when it’s used as a hobby or as the thing that you use to create excitement in your life. Too much sameness in one wardrobe can sometimes be a subtle hint that you may be teetering on the edge of having a problem. You may be shopping simply for the thrill of the hunt, the momentary excitement of something new and the high of the purchase. If you find that you frequently come home with new acquisitions that look dangerously similar to what you already own, it might be time to have a “Come to Jesus” moment with yourself and just check in.