Have you ever made an impulsive purchase and bought something you don’t need simply because it is on sale? Have you then gone on to regret that purchase since you never use it? Chances are you have and you are not alone! Sales and consumer behavior is an entire branch of psychology on its own. The layout of the stores, whether they are physical or online, the adverts you see on your way to work, the seasonal sales and personal promos you receive in your inbox, all are optimized to lure you into buying more of the things you don’t really need. That being said, you are only human and a good deal can be tempting to almost anyone. Studies have even shown that the negative emotions we feel when experiencing loss are far greater than the positive effects we get from obtaining something. In sales context this basically means that the terrible feeling of missing out on a good offer such as a discount is equivalent to that of losing our money. That is why it can be extremely difficult to turn down a good deal even though you save more money by doing so.
However, this high level of fast fashion consumption is not only bad for your bank account, fast fashion is also detrimental to the environment and by continuing to buy from these brands you indirectly support unfair and inhumane working conditions for the factory workers. In order to spread awareness and hopefully aid less consumption I have compiled a list of some things to consider before buying something new, whether it is on sale or not. Have a look and try to keep these questions in mind next time you find yourself tempted by the low prices.
Would I buy it at full price?
This is a simple yes or no question. If you wouldn’t buy it at full price, you probably don’t need it. You are simply just tempted by the good price and afraid of missing out on a sweet deal.
Do I own something similar already?
Chances are that you do. When we are shopping we tend to gravitate towards the garments that we know we would feel our most beautiful in and there is nothing wrong with that. It is only logical that we want to invest our money in pieces that we know for sure we will get use out of. The result being however that we end up buying clothes that are similar or even identical to the ones we already have. In conclusion, next time you realize that you are once again about to purchase a simple black turtle neck even though you own three already, ask yourself whether a fourth one is truly necessary.
Can I style it with the things in my wardrobe?
This question is highly relevant and it is something I ask myself every time I am in the changing room. A piece might seem perfect on its own but if I can't style it with the clothes I already have at home it will end up in the back of my closet, with the price tag still on, never being worn. A rule of thumb when it comes to this is that you can think of at least three outfits that you could wear the piece with.
Is this style trending right now?
Have you ever dismissed a trend as ugly at first glance only to find yourself gushing over it a few weeks later? This can be a result of a psychological phenomenon called The Mere Exposure effect. It refers to the finding that, the more often you have previously been exposed to a stimulus, the easier it becomes for your brain to interpret it. In other words, the more you see something, the more you like it, the tricky part being that this happens subconsciously. Next time you enter a store, start by identifying the pieces that you know for sure you have seen a lot on Instagram lately. Ask yourself whether you liked them from the start or if you have simply gotten used to the idea of wearing them by repeatedly seeing others style them. Once you start to become aware of this you will notice how a lot of styles you thought you loved are actually just a result of The Mere Exposure effect. Becoming more aware will also help you save money and find your own, personal and timeless style independent of current trends.
Who is paying?
Nothing in this world is for free, if you aren't paying for it someone else is, for example it could be the environment or the underpaid factory workers.
Is the quality good?
Another short but important question. Start by educating yourself on which materials are better and worse for the environment, then look to yourself, your needs and your preferences. Examples of questions you could ask yourself are:
What is the weather/temperature like where you live?
Do you often spill food all over you resulting in many washes?
Do you have time for ironing in the morning?
Then, go through the pieces that you have had in your wardrobe for ages that you still enjoy wearing. Notice if there is a pattern in which materials they are made. HINT: They will probably consist of mostly natural fibers. Next time you are about to buy a new garment, make sure to check the label fist to ensure that it is of good quality.
Am I stressed in this exact moment?
Social Media has revolutionized the world and the fashion industry in so many ways. Not only has it made fashion much more accessible to the general public by allowing everyone to share their personal style, it has also paved the way for many new career paths. Nonetheless, it has also become the new market place for fast fashion. Hauls, swipe up functions, flash sales, live shopping events and personal discount codes are just a few of the ways these brands trick you into an impulsive shopping behavior. If you are swiping up from a story or typing in a promo code that is only available for 24 h, take a second to breath and reflect. You will probably realize that your heart rate has increased. If this is the case, ask yourself whether you really want/need the piece you are about to purchase or if you are simply stressed, feeling like you are pressed for time and competing against other customers to be one of the first ones to get it.
Sleep on it.
No, this is not a question. Once you have answered all of the questions on this list I urge you to leave it be over night. If you still want it in the morning, you can buy it then. You will be surprised that more often than not you will have forgotten about that lovely jumper in the morning, that just yesterday felt like it meant the world to you.