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Women shopping for clothes

25 Ways To Stop Buying Clothes You Don't Need

The urge to impulse shop this season's trendiest garment is enough to have you splashing the cash in all your favorite high street stores. And the internet only makes it easier to lean into this toxic temptation. After all, you're only hurting your bank account, right?

The question is: how do you stop buying clothes for a year? The answer isn't a one-size-fits-all baggy t-shirt from Walmart. Everybody has a different lifestyle, distinct tastes, and various levels of disposable income to work with. But there is a solution for everyone.

Unbeknownst to many, dressing sustainably and ethically doesn't mean dropping $400 on one linen co-ord set. People of all financial backgrounds and styles can take steps to break the cycle and learn how to stop buying clothes online that aren’t essential.

Key Takeaways

  • To stop buying clothes you don't wear, regularly audit your wardrobe to avoid accumulating unworn clothes and prevent your home from becoming a storage space for unused garments.
  • Embrace a sustainable and ethical approach to fashion to break free from the constant urge to purchase trendy items.
  • Prioritize items that fit perfectly, suit your style, and have enduring appeal, steering away from fleeting trends.
    Develop a fashion uniform, be open to new brands, and intimately know your wardrobe to build a lasting and versatile collection.
  • Adopt sustainable practices such as wearing the same outfit multiple times, aiming for at least 30 wears per garment, and exploring secondhand shopping.
  • Stop buying clothes online for a year, by utilizing DIY approaches or swapping clothes, and researching brands for ethical production to minimize the environmental impact of your clothing choices.

Stop buying clothes you don't need

25 Ways To Stop Buying New Clothes You Don't Need

Breaking the cycle of shopping for clothes takes a lot of doing, but you're more than capable if you set your mind to it. By following our top-tier tips and tricks below, you'll have all the tools you need to kick the habit, save money, and build a wardrobe you'll love in the long run.

1. Find Diamonds Amongst the Rubble

Yes, this means exactly what you think it does — a closet clear out. Despite sounding counterintuitive, you can't make the most of your garments if you have to hack through piles of clothing every morning. Regularly auditing your owned items is a must to ensure you only buy clothes you need

Not to mention you'll likely find a load of items you forgot about. Upon discovering these beauties, you'll be excited to wear things you own, rather than buy the latest viral Zara dress at 2 am on a Saturday. 

2. Audit Your Closet

Go back to your high school self for a bit and play dress up with the items in your closet. Combining this with the above-mentioned tip works wonders; it'll make donating items you don't like much easier.

People only wear about 20% of their wardrobe 80% of the time, meaning the majority of gorgeous garments are just going to waste. But, Wrap data shows extending an article's lifecycle by a mere nine months can reduce its waste, carbon, and water footprints by up to 30%!

With that in mind, spend an evening experimenting with different combinations. You'll soon learn what you love and what you don't, saving the planet (and your bank account) in the process. 

3. Learn from Your Mistakes

Look at each piece in your closet and consider how many times you've worn it. Less than 10? Think about why. Whether it's the color, fabric, length, shape, style, or something else altogether, you need to be honest for this suggestion to work.

Beyond the actual look/feel of the garment, consider the circumstances in which you purchased it. Did you buy it for an event? Was it an at-the-time trend? Were you buying for a lifestyle you don't lead? Or was it an emotional purchase? Whatever the situation, understanding your shopping triggers is perhaps the best way to resist quick-fix buying. 

4. Wear and Repeat 

Society has harmed itself with the whole, "never wear the same thing twice" fiasco. Wearing the same outfit to two separate locations shouldn't be a faux pas, yet 33% of women think clothes are old after only wearing them three times and a Barnardo's study shows 25% would be embarrassed to wear the same outfit to two special occasions more than once.

You (and your friends) need to turn outfit-repeating into a celebrated practice rather than a shameful ordeal. Think about how many times you've played your favorite song(s). Countless, right? It should be the same with your clothes!

5. The Standard Should Be 30 Wears Per Garment

Livia Firth, the founder of Eco-Age, a sustainability consultancy firm, coined the #30Wears rule a few years ago to help shoppers make smarter choices and provide each garment with the lifespan it deserves.

The premise is simple — if you don't think you'll wear it at least 30 times, don't buy it. You'll save a bunch of money, and you won't feel guilty every time you look at your overflowing closet. Like tip number three, though, you need to be honest with yourself for it to work.

6. Stay Organized

In other words, take care of your clothes. When it's easier to buy something new than trawl through your already-owned piles of polyester, you've gone wrong somewhere.

Spend time organizing your clothes: hang them up at the end of every day and invest in a steamer if ironing is your most dreaded chore. Ideally, you should store summer and winter clothes separately. Although not everybody has space, even a small nook can make all the difference and ensure you don't feel the seasonal panic about purchasing different garments. 

7. Become a Borrower

Say you're going to a special event or a super important interview and you want to look your best. Shopping mode activated immediately, didn't it? Don't worry; becoming a borrower will change that. 

If you know you're never going to wear something more than once, borrow it from a friend or a clothing rental service (there are tons out there, just look on the app store).

Some companies specialize in statement garments, while others offer a subscription model that refreshes your look as the seasons change. Perfect for those who still want to keep up with the trends. 

8. Try Secondhand Shopping

A widespread shopping ban may feel like the end of your life as you know it. Thankfully, you don't necessarily have to stop shopping altogether. With this tip, you take a gentler approach to the otherwise daunting task. 

Before heading to the big-brand stores, try to find it secondhand. Whether you head to a thrift or vintage store, purchase from a preloved resale platform, or borrow something from your bestie, choosing used items can limit the demand for new garments and reduce the load of material ending up in landfills. 

9. Try Sewing or Making a Garment

If you've never made a garment yourself, you can't truly appreciate the amount of work that goes into creating it. So, it's time to get your craft hat on and do some sewing!

Some endless online guides and books walk you through the making process. And yes, they're beginner-friendly. All you need is the fabric, a sewing machine, and the passion to make it happen. It doesn't just save you money; it lets you make one-of-a-kind, custom pieces (once you get the hang of it, of course). Your newfound skill will give you a lot of fashion freedom. 

10. Revitalize Existing Garments

You don't have to start making clothes from scratch, you can still make your existing garments go further with a few YouTube tutorials and a basic sewing kit. If you've ever abandoned items due to an itchy label or an awkward shoulder fit, this is the tip for you. 

Head online to learn basic sewing skills like turning up hems, patching up holes in denim, and replacing buttons or zips. You'll be able to alter secondhand garments like a pro and ditch the urge to shop. 

11. Buy from Vintage Shops

In the fashion world, anything older than 20 years is deemed vintage. Everything popular in the 90s and 2000s is coming back around. This is the perfect opportunity for you to snag some serious deals to save money, be on trend, and refresh your style. 

Despite popular perception, finding such items isn't difficult. Apps like Gem make it easy to discover vintage treasures from across the internet, and some people host sales on Instagram to make purchasing such garments a breeze. 

12. Dive Headfirst into Deadstock

Don't feel comfortable wearing hand-me-downs? Deadstock (i.e., clothes that weren't sold due to small defects) makes the ideal compromise.

Go to Etsy, eBay, and similar sites, and search "deadstock." You'll be blessed with a bunch of items that were otherwise destined for the incinerator. End-of-line clothes are abundant in thrift stores, as well. So, it's best to give excess stock a forever (or, at the very least, long-term) home until manufacturers stop making so much.

13. Try Clothes Swapping

Clothes swapping isn't a new phenomenon. However, peer-to-peer rental apps with swapping features have made it easier than ever before to get the latest styles at zero real-life cost. Most apps work with virtual currency so you can "buy" items from others without splashing your hard-earned dollars.

The internet isn't the only way to swap, though. Try meeting up with others and trade your old threads for new-to-you pieces. It can be hard to watch your garments go, but it'll give you a similar feeling to shopping, helping you skip the stores. 

14. Get on the Phone

Consignment stores are plentiful around the world. These shops sell people's unwanted clothes, accessories, and shoes for 50% of the profit. And while you may think the stock is less-than-fresh, you couldn't be further from the truth — it's usually pristine and just a few seasons old. You'll be able to save considerable change on high-ticket labels, preventing that heavy feeling.

Aside from the average consignment stores, you can find luxury resale sites packed with wedding guest outfits worn once for half the RRP. Always check for used garments before paying full price.

15. Go Cold Turkey

Want to downsize your fashion footprint with no spending? Go cold turkey with your shopping habit.

While you may feel like closing this tab and heading to your favorite clothes store, remember you're reading this for a reason — you want to break the unworn wardrobe cycle. Banning clothes shopping will stop your conundrum in its tracks.

You don't have to stop purchasing garments forever. But committing to a year, three months, or just one month puts the building blocks in place for a habit overhaul. After a few weeks, your fingers will no longer twitch to scour through high street fashion stores. 

16. Eradicate Temptation

Breaking up with fast fashion requires some digital administration. Search your inbox and click the unsubscribe button at the bottom of all shopping emails.

After that, it's time to slash your socials. Unfollow influencers who encourage you to hit their link and buy the nation's next favorite boots. Your feed will look a little empty, but you can replace it with slow fashion lovers and sustainability-focused accounts to inspire your new norm.

17. Shop Small

Sometimes, you'll need to buy new. That's just life. However, you don't need to give fast fashion conglomerates hundreds of dollars. Instead, pick from small ethical fashion businesses — there are loads to pick from. 

A word of caution: some brands are all talk, no walk. Those worth their salt are transparent about their factories, payroll, and suppliers. Several of the greats include Proclaim, Katia, Miakoda, and NEOCOCO. 

18. Do Your Research

It should come as no surprise that fashion brands are becoming increasingly savvy to consumer's wants for ethical productions. On the surface, this is great. However, it's making it harder than ever to see through the fabricated truth.

You need to be smarter than the big labels. Luckily, you can be with Good On You. The site has rated over a whopping 2,000 brands on their treatment of animals, people, and the planet, giving you a foolproof avoid-to-great rating system. Shopping with a clear conscience has never been so simple. 

19. Switch to Pre-Order

A healthy future for your bank account and the planet is made-to-order fashion. Some brands (think Hackwith Design House, Kalauri, Sister Organics, and Misha Nonoo) are already doing this, so you can get involved right away. Nothing will test your commitment to an outfit like waiting a few weeks for it to land on your doorstep. After all, if you can't be patient with your clothes, they probably aren't the "must-haves" they're touted as. 

20. Ask "Who Made My Clothes"?

Considering who made your clothes is perhaps the most important question of them all in the fight against exploitation in the fashion industry. To trust big brands and shop responsibly from them, you should want to know where they're made, what factories they're from, how much the workers were paid, and how much lined the bosses' pockets. Make transparency the latest trend and you'll be surprised by how quickly you don't feel like splashing dollars on the latest dress. 

21. Avoid Sales

When there's a great sale at your favorite store, the temptation you've worked so hard to avoid will be back in full force. But by engaging in rational thinking, you'll eradicate the new-clothing lust. 

Stores always have sales. Items' normal prices are marked up to ensure brands can put them on sale at key times of the year. Even though grabbing a "bargain" can feel satisfying, know that it wasn't a bargain if you weren't going to buy it in the first place! Whenever you need a garment, you'll find a deal. Trust. 

22. Get Another Hobby

As a shopaholic, you're filling your free time by scrolling through clothing outlets or shopping at the mall. Thus, it can feel like you're missing out on a large part of your life if you stop spending. The solution? Find another hobby — something that fulfills you rather than merely scratches a ten-second itch. 

According to Doable Simplicity, picking up fun hobbies for minimalists was one of the best things they did to quit buying new clothes they never needed or wore. 

23. Unsubscribe from Clothes Newsletters

Junk mail is just that — junk. But it's also incredibly tempting to flick through them and place an order (or two). To prevent these promotions from landing in your mailbox, unsubscribe. If clothes aren't shoved in your face at the end of every week, you'll feel less inclined to dip into your bank account for a few (hundred) dollars. 

24. Don't Read About Fashion

In a similar vein to the aforementioned suggestion, you shouldn't read about fashion when you're trying to stop impulse buying clothes. Whether it's a blog post from your favorite fashion influencer or a book borrowed from your local library, staying away from clothing-focused literature is imperative. Why stress yourself out with the supposed "latest and greatest" when you aim to stop filling your closet with polyester pieces?

25. Know You Aren't Your Fantasy Self

Last but certainly not least, dress for who you are, not your fantasy version. Buying clothes with the pretense that you'll "one day" wear them is a recipe for disaster — you'll end up with a full wardrobe yet feel like you have nothing to wear. 

It takes a lot of discipline to make this tip work for you, but it's possible. It's time to get out of your fantasy head and put your realistic hat on when out and about (or online scrolling).

In the pursuit of curbing the urge to indulge in impulsive and unsustainable shopping habits, the key lies in breaking the cycle, adopting a strategic approach to style, and implementing practical measures. By embracing sustainability, understanding personal fashion preferences, and employing thoughtful wardrobe curation techniques, individuals can not only save money but also contribute to a more responsible and fulfilling approach to fashion. The journey towards a mindful and intentional wardrobe is not only achievable but also opens doors to a more sustainable and satisfying fashion lifestyle for individuals across various tastes and financial backgrounds.

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