Shopping for clothes like shopping for groceries

I’m about to move back to Melbourne (I don’t have a date yet, but in the next few weeks) and I’ll soon be buying some more clothes. I’ve got a few gaps in my wardrobe, and my friends are nagging me to get less black. No, I don’t dress in all black (here’s a previous post that should put that to rest!), but I am actively being encouraged to wear more colour by my friends in Melbourne. (I’ve been in Melbourne the last few days, my apologies for Tuesday’s blog being late.)

So, what’s the best way to shop as a minimalist? Easy, here’s three steps.

  • Step 1: Make a list. When you go to the supermarket, you generally make a list, right? You don’t wander round the aisles and pick off whatever takes your fancy. (And on a similar note, never go to the supermarket when you’re hungry: you end up with all sorts of nonsense in your shopping trolley. I once ended up with a jar of pickled artichokes as a result. Pickled artichokes?) Yet when we go shopping for clothes we often amble around aimlessly looking at clothes in a vague manner. If you have a list with “business shoes, a suit, casual shorts”, then you’re not going to be distracted by cheaply priced t-shirts. Take an inventory of what’s in your wardrobe: throw out anything that you don’t love, doesn’t fit, is the wrong colour, faded, stained, frayed… and make a shopping list!
  • Step 2: Use your palette. I talked about in a previous post about your palette. It’s a really great idea to know what colours work on you and the ones that don’t. Yellow is my particular bête noire (or should that read bête jaune?), anything with even a hint of yellow is truly godawful on me. (And pastels are pretty sucky on me as well.) Don’t suit black? Then don’t wear black! Find an alternative — grey, brown, beige, navy, whatever. It’s a really good idea to decide pretty much what colour everything on your list will be. Be flexible with this, but if you have an outline then you won’t buy everything in navy blue, which will look pretty much like you’re channeling Chairman Mao.
  • Step 3: Prioritise. There are likely going to be some items on your list that you MUST have pretty much right now, and some that are not so urgent. I suggest you mark these ones on your list in red (or something that will stand out) so that you buy these first. If, like me, you’re a spreadsheets nerd, then you can allocate the list a priority 1, 2, or 3, and you can add a column for estimated price. (Then again, if you’re a fellow spreadsheet nerd you will already have figured out to do that, allocated priorities that are colour-coded, and probably put in a column for colour, with the actual colour of the item in there. This is what happens when you’re a spreadsheet nerd with too much time on your hands.)

Oh, and one other thing: buy quality. If you’re paring down your wardrobe to the basics, there’s no point in getting clothes that won’t last the distance. Pay a few dollars more if need be, and get something you’ll not only enjoy wearing, but will last.

Happy hunting!


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