Shopping is such an integral part of modern life, especially for women. From quite a young age we get a taste for hunting down bargains and the intoxicating thrill of finding the ‘perfect’ item. Clothes shopping is especially pungent. As our bodies or jobs or lifestyles change, so does our wardrobe and those old favourites just don’t cut it anymore. Read my article about holding on to clothes here.

Decluttering the wardrobe is a huge part of my industry. Almost everyone has done it at least once and everyone has some clever tip to make it easier (I bet you’ve turned your hangers around at least once, right?). So, today I’m not going to tell you how to DEclutter your wardrobe, I want to talk about avoiding a common REcluttering problem.

Over shopping and bargain hunting.

Back of woman carrying shopping bags over her shoulder.

Last week I found myself in the perfect position to do a bit of op-shopping.

  • Free time: I had a little over an hour to kill before an appointment.
  • Mood-perfect: I was in a good, calm mood.
  • Comfy: I was wearing an easy to change outfit (shorts, tshirt, sandals) and I was clean, cool, and in that happy place in my cycle between bloats.
  • Bonus: I was alone. No kids, nobody waiting on the ‘husband chair’.

I went into my local Vinnies (charity) store and was amazed at how many great clothes they had on display. As I walked around I found so many things that I wanted to try on, I knew I was headed to dangerous waters!

You might have picked up by now that I don’t like to own “too much” stuff. And if you have been decluttering, you will probably have this problem sooner or later.

Decluttering Coach Lauren was scolding me “do you REALLY need another dress?” “aren’t you trying to MINIMIZE your wardrobe?” and worst of all “What kind of an example are you setting!?”

But Shopping-addict Lauren was dancing around filling her greedy arms with hanger after hanger of every cute garment she saw.

So Rational, practised,totally-has-her-shit-together Lauren stepped in. I love that chick.

And here’s what the three of us did:

  1. I decided, yes, I do want to be shopping. Justified: there are several pieces in my wardrobe that I have been meaning to replace.
  2. And made a quick mental list of what those pieces were.
  3. While browesing the racks, I kept in mind the colours and styles I wear and how each item I picked up would fit with what I already own. I also consider the fabric, how it feels and does it require more work than I am willing to put in (ironing or dry cleaning)? Does it fit with my lifestyle (I might look amazing in that milkmaid costume but it’s been a really long time since I’ve been asked to be an extra in a play)?
  4. I tried EVERYTHING on. There was a time I would hold up an item, check the number on the tag and try to guess if it would fit – DO NOT GUESS. Each piece is cut differently and will fit and flatter you in different ways. On this occation I tried on 5 dresses all with the same size on the tag. One was so tight I couldn’t do it up, 2 were too big and looked silly.
  5. Of the clothes that fit well, I considered when I might wear them. Of those two dresses that fit well, I only bought one. Why? Because I love how it looked and how I felt in it AND I can think of several occasions when I would choose it over other items in my wardobe. The one I didn’t choose to buy was GORGOUS, I may have even liked it MORE than the one I bought, but I coundn’t think of a single occasion I would wear it.
  6. I put stuff back on the rack. Everything that wasn’t a HELL YES was a no and back it went. I gave myself permission to appreciate the items but admit that they’re not for me and I can happily leave them in the store for someone else to find. It’s really nice to imagine another woman uncovering that gorgous dress and snagging that bargain (knowing exactly where to wear it!).
  7. As I paid for my purchases (BTW I scored the new dress, a blazer and denim jacket to replace some I owned that do not fit well, at comfy tee and light jacket that were both missing from my collection – all for under $50), I sent a message to my mums group chat to let them know about the great things I had seen incase any of them have been looking for new clothes.

Of course, you can’t always feel the fabric and try things on. There are some great consignment stores online (I like Lable Love) and let’s not forget buying second hand on online marketplaces (I am loving the new one: The Joyful Fashionista based in Canberra for us not so young but not yet old ladies who wanna be stylish on a budget).

When op-shopping online seek as much information as you can from the sellers and have a game plan if things don’t work out.

No matter how you shop, you should always be prepared for the new (or new-to-you) item to become clutter. If it turns out that the item doesn’t fit our suit your purpose, don’t berate yourself or force it to fit some other way. Be prepared to return, gift, or donate asap.

I’ve found that one way to keep myself from over shopping or REcluttering my home is to surround myself with other women who value Simplicity the same way I do. We gather together all the time in a private Facebook group and meet face-to-face via Zoom once a month as part of the Simplicity with Lauren Winzar membership. Want in? Join today! I’d love to welcome you on our next live call!