Regret-proofing Your Closet Is Now A Thing

Or at least it should be if you want to never say, “Why the eff did I buy this?” Ever. Again.

By: Amber

Having a healthy relationship with your closet can change your life. Not exaggerating. Roughly, 86% (okay, totally made up this number, but it’s good for our point so let’s go with it, k?) of our morning stress revolves around what we’re going to wear. When we’re asked out on a date or book a flight, the first thought that pops in our heads is, “What am I going to wear/pack?”…no?

Hating clothes that are in your closet will only make creating outfits a task you dread when it should be one that excites and inspires you. If you have a fully functional wardrobe filled with clothes that are all on a level playing field, it will be so much easier to put looks together. You will have more options without having more clothes, which means you’ll be saving premium closet space and money.

Ideally, you should be wearing at least 75% of your clothes most of the time. The extra 25% that you don’t wear that often are not pieces that you half-like, etc. These are simply the clothes that are exclusively for special event/occasion wear. Point is, you should love 100% of what’s in your wardrobe.

This is how.

Try on everything

…no matter how long the line is. This can be such a pain. We know sometimes we end up waiting in lines for the dressing rooms longer than we spend perusing the racks of a shop.

If you’re super disciplined, and maybe live in walking-distance of the store, and know if you buy after grabbing something straight off the rack that you’ll try the items on at home and return them if they don’t fit well or translate from rock to your body in the way you’ve envisioned, then by all means, skip the fitting room chaos. But if the store is a few miles away and an inconvenience to return clothes, suck it up and try everything on first. You want to make sure the piece is comfortable and functional. You also want to make sure the fabric not only lays correctly (like isn’t too stiff or flimsy) and isn’t irritable against your skin. Look to confirm that the fabric isn’t too sheer or the cut of the piece isn’t too revealing…or revealing enough too.

None of us are built like standard mannequins (this is a good thing). So it’s pretty foolish to judge how something will look on you by the way it looks on one. Even when we’re in a rush, we refuse to buy something without seeing what it will look on our bodies. We’re all about a test run before purchasing the product. It’s kinda like getting married without, um, consummating the relationship first (AKA, having sex) – do you want to be disappointed when you get home or do you want to know what you’re signing up for?

Heighten your standards

If the silhouette doesn’t flatter your shape, if the fabric doesn’t feel comfortable on your skin, if the cut of a piece doesn’t lay on your body right, pass on it. Don’t lower your standard because something is cheap or on *trend.* If you wear an ill-fitting dress that you got from a 70% off sales rack, no one’s going to come up to you and go, “Wow. You must have gotten that from the sales rack.” And if they do, shade! Seriously, that’s not much better than them coming up to you and saying you look cheap. However, if you wear a dress that costs about fifty bucks more than you’re used to spending on dresses, but fits like it was sewn to your measurements exactly, they’ll be coming up to you going, “You look amazing in that dress, where’d you get it?”

Wearing trends that don’t suit you has the same effect. People won’t look at you admiring you for wearing the exact style drop-crotch pants that Vogue was ranting about in the latest issue. Instead, the fact that the trend doesn’t work is going to stand out so much that everyone’s going to think you tried and…failed. All the style cred you thought you were going to gain by attempting the trend will be instantly squandered.

Another way to raise the bar? Don’t feel like every time you go shopping you have to leave with something. We used to so be those girls. You shop and shop and when you don’t find anything you love, you feel so bummed that you re-try on clothes you initially ruled out just so you don’t have to leave empty-handed. But why waste money? If you didn’t love it the first time you tried it on, or saw it on the rack, why would you love it any more when it gets into your closet?

If you make it so that every piece you purchase meets a standard custom to your unique aesthetic ideals and the demands of your lifestyle, you will suffer from an extremely minimal amount of buyers’ remorse. The goal isn’t to have a closet stuffed with random purchases. It’s to have a wardrobe that’s specifically tailored to meet your indidiual needs. A whole lot more on that here.

Drop social/therapeutic shopping 

If you’re a casual shopper you probably do some aimless scrolling on your favorite site’s “New Arrivals” pages whenever you’re bored, buying things just because they catch your eye. Therapeutic shopping is when you shop high on emotions, when you use purchases to cure whatever void you’re currently feeling.

The problem with all these kinds of shopping is that you shop for the experience, for the instant gratification instead of adding value to your wardrobe or improving its structure so it’s easier to create outfits. You’re more likely to buy on impulse when you shop for these reasons, which means not enough thought or consideration goes into the decision process; you’re not weighing the important stuff like how cohesive or versatile a piece will be, or whether this piece fills in one of your wardrobe gaps.

Here’s the thing: you need a clear head and a clear agenda to make smart purchasing decisions. Don’t make shopping become a leisure activity. When you find yourself in one of your shopping binge moods, try to curb the craving by engaging in some other activity that you enjoy. And if you must shop, scrutinize your closet first to see what you might actually need. Look for any holes or weak links so that while your perusing/scrolling you can at least buy things you’ll get real use out of.

Make friends with an experienced tailor

Most of us have this preconceived notion that brands and designers manufacture clothes to be worn straight off the racks. Meaning, you don’t need to tweak any elements of their designs before adding to your closet and wearing. You buy and wear and they automatically look great on you, on your mom, on me, on all of us. Harsh reality? Even if something is labeled as RTW, it doesn’t mean it is literally ready to wear. Generally speaking, it’s just the category of clothing that is not high-fashion or couture.

Now, before you go bashing manufacturers, take a second to consider that they have a genuinely impossible task at hand when designing and manufacturing their clothes: they’re responsible for mass-producing clothing, making clothes that everyone can wear and feel great in. How can they do this when every woman is built with her own unique curves and intricacies?

Yes, some designers/brands do better jobs than others by offering larger ranges of sizes, but even with their efforts, it’s often not enough. Don’t let this make you feel ‘fat’ or force you to give up on looking stylish because you can never find clothes off that rack that are perfect for your style and your body. Don’t go home after an unsuccessful shopping trip and get down on yourself thinking nothing ever suits you or that the clothes in stores are only made for girls with a different body-type than yours. Yes, there are certainly stores that don’t carry enough sizes or cut their clothes to fit/flatter certain figures. But the majority of clothes aren’t made to suit everyone’s body type, not to a T.

Take it into your own hands and get your clothes tailored. And don’t just do a drop and run. Try on the item with the seamstress and show him/her exactly what you have a problem with. And be loyal. Once a tailor gets to know your body he/she will be able to better tailor clothes for you in the future because they’ll learn your personal preferences, the kinds of details that you value in terms of fit and structure. After a while, they might even have a couple suggestions for you.

Always shop with a purpose

What is with the stigma that’s associated with shopping with a list? Going into a store you love blindly opens the gate of buyer’s remorse. There are just too many racks to choose from. Whether you like to shop on a piece-by-piece (my suggestion) or outfit-by-outfit basis, you need to know what you’re looking for so you can eliminate the amount of options you have.

Trust me, it works. If you know you need a tailored black blazer and two pairs of jeans, one skinny, one boyfriend, and a skinny leopard print belt, your eyes will be instantly drawn to these items while you’re perusing the racks or scrolling down the screen. This is not only more effective is getting what you need and skipping over what you don’t, but it’s also an extremely efficient way of shopping. Lists might seem like they take the fun out of shopping, when really they add a layer of excitement because every time you check something off your list you’ll get a surge of adrenalin.

Just because you have a list doesn’t mean you can deviate from it if something else that will be extremely valuable in your wardrobe catches your eye. But it will keep you from picking up clothes that only appeal to you aesthetically yet don’t increase the utility of your wardrobe.

If you need some help refining you shopping habits, you might need a shopping detox. Everything you need to know about one is here.

Cut back on bargain hunting

No one love a good bargain more than us, okay except maybe our mom. But the difference between her level of obsession and ours is that she’ll buy things that she doesn’t need, or really even like, just because it’s so steeply discounted. It’s always, “But it’s 75% off!” We’ll go ahead and admit it: in our earlier bargain huntress days we used to be guilty of this too, but we nipped the habit in the bud before it got too out of control.

We realized that by buying clothes based solely on their prices, we ended up with lot of clothes that wouldn’t have appealed to us visually at all if they were full-priced. We found ourselves making tons of sacrifices in terms of fit and even style just because we was getting the items for such steals. But in reality, no matter how colossal the discount, the price of an item doesn’t determine the value it adds to your wardrobe. So even if you paid a small percentage of the price for a dozen tops you got from the 80% off rack, if you don’t wear them, that amount you did pay is just a complete waste. Whereas if you paid full price for a few items that you wear to death, you’re getting a substantial bang for your buck because your CPW (cost per wear) is so low.

Stop obsessing over fast fashion

Trust me, we get it. During our college years, we got so sucked into fast fashion when the shops took over because they were, in more ways than one, a dream come true. These were shops that for once provided affordable clothes – and often – which were extremely stylish and reflective of what designers were showing on the runways. First the first time really, a girl could be on trend and have a variety of hot clothes in her closet. Easy to become obsessed, right?

We didn’t put two and two together right away, but at some point we finally connected the dots – not only were all of our cheap, fashionable clothes actually pretty expensive, they also were disposable, meaning they only lasted one season. I’d have the coolest jacket, wear it a few times and the lining in the sleeves would start to rip. After a single wash, fabrics would shrink. Hems would fall after a couple wears, threads would be loose, creating holes that would undoubtedly make them eligible for the trash bin. The worst was when we bought a perfect-fitting LBD with a great fabric that split down the middle seam while I was doing my makeup for a big event…right over my butt. Luckily, we had a sewing kit handy and was able to salvage the dress for that night, but it was essentially money down the drain.

We were spending way more money on replacing clothes than we’d wanted to. There were even numerous periods where we literally had only a handful of things hanging in our closets because we’d had to toss so many cute, but totally dysfunctional pieces.

In certain situations, it’s totally fine to sacrifice quality for the aesthetic appeal of something. If you’re buying a piece to wear once, then don’t splurge. This is what we feel fast fashion is for. Point is, the majority of your wardrobe shouldn’t be filled with clothes that are constructed to be worn for one season only…or let’s be real, one night. Trade these out for more durable clothes that you won’t have to constantly replace.

(Pssst: go here for a full guide on how to quit fast fashion.)


Regret-proof pieces are ones that are versatile, well-made and totally unforgettable. We’ve complied a selection of some of the regret-proof pieces we need right now in the “SHOP THE STORY” section below. Have fun perusing!

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Leave a Thought
  • Great post! I’ve definitely found since purchasing less and thinking about what I do buy, I’ve really heightened my standards, which in turn means I rarely buy anything new because if it’s not perfect, then it isn’t good enough…I do need to get aquatinted with a tailor though. That is one thing I’ve been saying I need to do for a while… Couldn’t agree more with these tips. 🙂


    • Dani

      Samio! Girl. Thanks for the feedback. Glad you found the tips helpful. You sound like you’re definitely on the right track, but if you want an even more in depth look into how to build your perfect wardrobe, checkout our free e-course.

    • Amber

      SAME. You hit the nail on the head – it’s ALL about raising your standards…just like with anything else in life really, right? And that’s the thing, once you set your standards to a certain level, your pickings become much slimmer. It’s great for the function of your wardrobe since you will be weeding out everything that will sacrifice the structure, but it makes shopping a much more complicated process. It sort of takes the excitement out of it in the beginning, but once you get the hang of it, it becomes exciting in a whole other way.
      Finding a tailor is so key. TBH, we actually haven’t found our go-to person yet – it’s on the (never ending) to-do list. For now, we kind of just pick and choose as we go. But customizing your clothes to your body so that they fit you and no one else…it’s a luxury that most don’t take advantage of.
      So glad that you enjoyed this post and that things resonated with you. Hope you check out more 🙂