Fashion Needs and Fashion Wants: How to Tell the Difference

Fashion Needs

There is a big difference between fashion needs and a fashion wants.  Sure, it’s nice when a want is a need, but, unfortunately, this isn’t always the case.  Fashion does a great job of constantly flashing pretty things in front of us that it can be so easy to get swept up in it without being rational.  If you have been lured in by unnecessary fashion wants, rest assured, you’re not alone.

Need a little help deciding if your fashion wants are actually fashion needs?  Check out my five tips to tell the difference.

Fashion Needs and Fashion Wants: How to Tell the Difference

#1- The need presents itself multiple times

During an outfit session with a client, I told her that I thought she could use one or two more pairs of shoes but I wouldn’t know for certain until we started putting her looks together.  I explained that her potential shoe needs would present themselves as we worked through her outfits.  As we continued to work, I found myself mentioning grey flats for her outfits multiple times.  Clearly, grey flats became a fashion need and something we already proved she would wear.

If you pay attention, fashion needs come to light on their own.  They happen if you hear yourself saying things like, “If I only had <blank> this outfit would be great,” or, “I really wish I had a <blank> for <blank>.”  These fashion needs aren’t always sexy or fun, but they are practical and there is a far greater chance you will wear them if your wardrobe constantly calls for them.

#2-It works with what you already own

Never is there a time when I am shopping that I don’t think about what already exists in my closet, or go down a list of what from my wardrobe I can wear with the piece I am considering. Doing this certainly doesn’t mean I can’t branch out or try something new, it just ensures that these new pieces will have a fighting chance once I bring them home.

Avoid bringing home any wardrobe options by taking a second to run through a list of what you will wear with it and all the different ways it will enhance what you own.

#3- It doesn’t create duplication

If you are a longtime reader of my blog then you know that I call wardrobe duplication splitting your wears, which means to spread the need for one wardrobe item across multiple pieces, ultimately decreasing the value of each piece because you won’t wear each one nearly as much as you could.   Wardrobe items don’t even have to look alike to create wear splitting, they just have to serve the same function.  Wouldn’t you rather use your money to buy more versatile things than have multiple pieces in your wardrobe playing the same part?

Certainly, if you wear a similar look often then it might be smart to have more than one piece play a part.  For example, I wear jeans a lot making have several pairs a wise investment.  However, with dressier attire being a minimal need in my closet, I find one pair of nude pumps more than enough.   Everyone’s wardrobe needs are different, so what may be duplication for one may not be for another.

#4- It works for your lifestyle

A simple term that many clients and blog readers find incredibly helpful is to ask, “Where am I going in this?” when deciding whether or not to buy something.  If you have nowhere to wear it, it doesn’t belong in your closet.  This question is quick and easy to use whenever you find yourself not sure if something is a fashion need while also saving you from wasting money.  Be prepared, however, you may not always like the answer.  We have all fallen victim to “wishful wardrobing,” as I like to call it, which means to buy things for the life you wish you had and not the one you do.

#5- It flatters your figure

This may seem fairly obvious because nobody buys clothing that doesn’t flatter them, right?  Right?  Many have been guilty of this to some degree where we’re willing to forgo what’s best for our bodies.  It’s similar to eating the wrong foods despite knowing they will do nothing for us.

It can be hard to say no to something when it is so pretty.  I have seen my fair share of gorgeous ankle strap shoes that have tempted me.  Turning them down has been difficult but remembering that ankle straps make my legs look 10lbs. heavier helps me put them down.

Never will you be satisfied by a beautiful wardrobe item that does nothing for you body.

Fashion Needs vs. Fashion Wants Checklist

I hope these tips will help you determine what is a fashion need and a fashion want.  If you ever need a quick reference, check out this pinnable checklist that you can save and refer to anytime.

Fashion Needs

Want to test these tips?  Check out these shoppable items to test your individual fashion need and fashion want knowledge.

  • Kelly

    This is something I struggle with a lot – I am getting better though. I am coming to terms with the fact that shopping is not quite as fun as it can be frustrating trying to find a specific item rather than just buying all the pretty things! However my bank balance and the fact my wardrobe is not filled with clutter is a nice trade off. Thanks for the checklist to help keep me on track!

    • You are welcome! Shopping can be a very frustrating activity for most and, dare I say, it can be a lot more helpful when someone you trust is helping you make decisions. I find it a lot easier to shop for clients than for myself. The good thing for you is it sounds like you have learned to take your time and not stuff your closet with things you don’t need. I’d much rather have less that I enjoy than too much of what I don’t need or won’t wear.

  • Patricia

    For me, a wardrobe “need” is something I’ve considered rationally and have searched for just the right version. A fashion “want”, is more like an instant crush … rather like me and anything chocolate. One purchase this year was a pair of leopard print flats, not unlike the ones you’ve linked. However I was searching for suede rather than calf hair due to the need for long term wear and ability to waterproof. I finally found my dream pair in suede and pounced (after deliberating for several weeks).

    • Yes, I have crushed on many things and wanted them in my life and then have realized I didn’t really need them. Of course, we can be passionate and in love with the things we buy, and we should, but we should also make sure they will be something we wear. It sounds like you found the perfect pair of shoes you were looking for!

    • tgchi13

      Ooo! Can you link to your leopard suede choice please? I’ve wanted/needed something not calf hair also 🙂

      • Patricia

        Mine were Aerosoles Betunia Loafer from DSW but I can’t link to them anymore. They must have sold out. Try searching for them on other sites…
        Good luck with your search tgchi13. It took me a long time to find these. I’d see something that looked great and i’d see in the fine print it was calf hair.

        • tgchi13

          Thank you! It gives me a starting point and I do like Aerosole shoes.

  • Pat

    Ha, Bridgette, you must be a daughter in another life! This article hits me to a “P”..practical, particular and polished! Your thought process so emulates my own that I never have closet orphans, ever, (rarely find anything to purchase, either).

    What a great reminder that less really is more style and to stop buying instant fashion.
    Your the best,
    Faithful fan,

    • Well I will take that as a huge compliment, Pat, because you know I adore you, and having seen inside your closet virtually, I know you are always making wise purchases.