How to Stop Shopping for Clothes You Don’t Need

Written by • Last Updated November 17, 2020

Knowing how to stop shopping for clothes is incredibly freeing. As a former Stitch Fix addict, I’m all too familiar with the thrill of adding new pieces to my wardrobe. But the cost of buying too many clothes goes beyond the number on the price tag.

Once that burst of excitement fades, what are you left with? A sweater you’ll wear five times before you shove it into an already-full drawer?

The truth is that having too many clothes creates more trouble than joy.

Choice overload is real. We struggle to make decisions when we have too many options to choose from, like picking out what to wear for work. And that struggle creates stress, which we try to heal with–you guessed it–buying more clothes we don’t need!

It’s time to end the vicious cycle. With a few tricks, you can learn how to stop shopping for clothes unnecessarily.

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Start with a closet cleanout

Interior of messy closet of someone who doesn't know how to stop buying new clothes

Yes, you read that right: the first step to stop buying clothes is to get rid of the stuff you already own.

This process works in three ways. First, a proper cleanout gives you the opportunity to see just how much clothing you’ve accumulated. It’s a sobering reality to find nearly-new dresses buried in the depths of your closet.

Second, you’ll create more space in your closet and drawers to easily find things. When all of your pieces have room to breathe, you can quickly scan what’s available and pull together and outfit.

Finally, a clothes cleanout is a chance to keep only what you love. Get your Marie Kondo on and donate anything that doesn’t bring you joy.

From here on out, only the best, most essential pieces will be invited to join your existing wardrobe.

Check out my minimalist decluttering checklist for more help!

Organize your closet according to your own logic

Every organization guru has their own “perfect” method for arranging a closet. Some say to go by color, others by outfit… It’s all conflicting and confusing advice.

The problem is that there’s no secret sauce to closet organization, because everyone has their own logic system for what makes sense. And until you find the system that works for you personally, you’ll struggle to stop shopping for clothes.

An organized closet is one you can visualize away from home. Being able to “see” what could pair well with the shiny pair of red boots you’re holding (spoiler alert–probably nothing) is essential to curbing impulse spending.

Pinpoint the reason behind your shopping impulse

If you want to figure out how to stop shopping for clothes, you need to do some self-reflection.

There are a bunch of reasons we might buy clothes unnecessarily:

  • We want to feel more confident
  • We’re trying to convey a certain persona or signal social status
  • We enjoy the thrill of bargain hunting
  • We’re addicted to obtaining new things
  • We use shopping as a coping mechanism
  • We literally don’t remember what’s in our own closet

Your clothing habit could be a product of one or many of these things. Next time you feel the urge to buy a new outfit, take a moment to consider why you want to shop.

Pausing to reflect lets you take back control and become a mindful shopper (or skip the purchase entirely).

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Avoid using special occasions as excuses to shop

“But what about the work Christmas party?” you might ask. These special occasions are just the sort of thing we use to convince ourselves that a new outfit is totally necessary.

Unless you work in the fashion industry, no one is going to remember what you wore to the Christmas party. You could wear the same outfit three years in a row, and maybe one especially-perceptive person would pick up on it.

Special occasions are good opportunities to get creative with your wardrobe. Look for unique ways to style and accessorize what you already have, like an eye-catching clutch or a series of layered necklaces. It’s a surefire way to stop wasting money on clothes you’ll only wear once.

RELATED: 9 Surprising Benefits of Simplifying Your Life

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Use ethics to help you stop shopping for new clothes

Cotton fabric blouses hanging on wooden hangers

Fashion has become a hot topic in the world of low-impact living. From fast vs. slow fashion to ethical fabrics to low-waste production methods, there’s a lot that goes into the garments we wear.

With the climate crisis looming, it’s up to us to make sustainable living choices. That includes not only how much clothing we buy, but also how that clothing is made.

Fast fashion shops like H&M, Target, and GAP have made it cheap (and addicting) to add new pieces to our closets. But they’ve also contributed to mass pollution and a host of other ethical problems.

Next time you’re in the market for new clothes, opt for brands that are committed to sustainability

Or better yet, skip the new retail shops and go thrifting! You’ll give perfectly good clothes a second life and save them from the landfill.

RELATED: Fast Fashion vs. Slow Fashion: What’s the Difference?

Find other activities that make you happy

Shopping is a fun activity for many of us. We as humans are hardwired to enjoy acquiring new things. But there are other ways to infuse joy into your life that don’t involve buying clothes you don’t need.

Take up a new hobby you’ve always wanted to try. Go for walks in different parts of your neighborhood. Start cooking creative dinners on the weekends.

Find a replacement for that sweater-shaped hole in your heart. I’m confident it will sew itself shut in no time.

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