Don’t Buy That

One strategy for unwanted clothing purchases is to return them to the store. Another is to stare at the tags hanging in your closet and wonder what happened. More often, though, you could try one word to prevent those rebel pieces from entering your closet:  “Don’t”. “I don’t buy that because that it is…” 

  • good, but not great,
  • on sale, but not perfectly suited to my personal style
  • purchased in a flurry of errands unfocused on the task at hand

Take some time to think about where you are going with your wardrobe. If you are trying to recover from death by black, or 10 of the same item in your closet, or pieces someone else chose for you that you can’t seem to part with, try saying: “I don’t buy that” versus, “I can’t buy that”. According to researchers at Boston College and University of Houston, it may seem like there is no difference, but “you couldn’t be more wrong. Don’t and can’t may seem somewhat interchangeable, but they are very different psychologically. And if there is one thing that social psychologists have learned over the years, it’s that even seemingly subtle differences in language can have very powerful effects on our thoughts, feelings and behavior.”

“I don’t…” is experienced as a choice, so it feels empowering. It’s an affirmation of your determination and willpower. “I can’t…” isn’t a choice – it’s a restriction. It’s being imposed upon you. So thinking “I can’t” undermines your sense of power and personal agency. Forbes, 2013 

Here are a few more strategies to keep in mind when shopping, so that you end up with a closet full of clothes that work for you:

  1. Don’t shop when you are hungry, tired, bored or worse, angry. Just don’t. Go home, go out, get food, but don’t shop for clothing. Every piece of clothing you put into your closet needs some scrutiny before it gets to be there, and shopping under duress increases the chance you will end up with something you don’t love.
  2. Hunt! Hunt for the item that you know will complete an outfit, that one piece that will make something else in your closet sing when they find each other. Go with a purpose and a plan. Even if you are just browsing because you love the smell of new clothes, new ideas etc., have a plan of only looking for one thing at a time. For example, search for colors you love. Don’t look at a piece of clothing unless you see a beautiful color, or try hunting in only one section of the store, say dresses. Then go home, or finally get something to eat.
  3. Ask yourself if you have at least 2 other items in your closet that will go with the chosen item. If not, it will be one more piece that you have to build an outfit around that simply hangs in your closet.
  4. If you are buying any piece of clothing that is entering your wardrobe space, it needs to be something you love and think is beautiful. If you have any hesitation, leave it on the rack. And this time, say: “I don’t want to buy this because it is not who I am anymore, and I don’t compromise on that”.

Do let your dont’s keep you looking fabulous but don’t forget to eat! If you have any questions, please contact me at

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