12 tips to help you shop smarter and buy clothes you will want to wear

Written by:

Written by:

Have you ever have purchased an item only to take it home, hang it in your wardrobe, and never ever wear it?  It’s frustrating isn’t it?  Well you’re not alone.  It happens to more people than you’d think..and more often than not, but in this post I'm going to show you how to shop smarter so you can begin to build a closet of clothes you enjoy wearing.

​A report by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation claims the amount of clothing bought has doubled in 15 years, but the number of times an item is actually worn has fallen by 20%.  We’re buying more clothes than ever, but are wearing each piece less. And I know for a fact (as you’ve told me and I’ve seen it for myself while de-toxing clients closets) that some pieces aren’t being worn at all!

The most common reasons for these pieces being left unworn are that you don’t know how to wear them or you don’t know what to wear them with.   But you know what? I’m willing to bet that those items you’ve never worn DO go with other things in your closet and not only that, can be made into at least three different outfits.   In fact, I share the simple 3 step process I use to create new outfits with my clients old clothes in this post so pop over and have a read!

In this post I'm going to:

Women jumping for joyPin this image on Pinterest
Pin this image on Pinterest
Pin this image on Pinterest
Pin this image on Pinterest
Pin this image on Pinterest
Pin this image on Pinterest
Pin this image on Pinterest
Pin this image on Pinterest
Pin this image on Pinterest

Before you read on, I recommend you download the handy Shop Smarter Checklist I've created for you to help you check if a garment is right for you and your closet


We’ve all made purchases we’ve regretted at some point in our lives, and some of us are repeat offenders, but why?  Well, more often than not, it’s down to these 7 factors.  Which of them are you guilty of?



​Well, I reckon the biggest culprit is social media. How many times have you seen someone wearing something on Instagram and either clicked the ‘shop my look’ link, or gone out and purchased the item?  It is ridiculously easy to purchase things through Instagram and this has led to many an ill judged purchase.  Take caution – before you hit ‘add to cart’ take a step back and have a quick think about when you might wear the item and whether or not it fits with your collection and your style.



​We’re hit with discounts and exclusive promo codes, online and in store, on a daily basis.  They’re hard to resist and have a lot to answer for when it comes to those unworn items hanging in your wardrobe.



​Shopping with a friend can sometimes result in bad purchases as, unlike a professional personal shopper, they have a tendency to unwittingly pick pieces for you that they like, rather than pieces that they think will suit you.  And if something isn’t quite right for you a friend often doesn’t have the heart to tell you so (especially if they can tell you love it!).



​Shopping in a rush is never a good idea, you need time to try the item on and check it fits you properly before parting with your hard earned cash.



​If you’re only wearing a small percentage of your collection then it will be extremely difficult to integrate new pieces.  All those items you’re not wearing have the potential to create a whole host of outfits but you can’t see them if you’re only focusing on the same few clothes.  If you want to be in with a chance of wearing the new pieces you’re buying, you’ll need to become reacquainted with collection.



​Well fitting clothing is the most flattering type of clothing but not only can make you look slimmer, it will be more comfortable.  So if sometime isn’t the correct fit for your shape and size the chances are you wont’ wear it.  The only issue is that it can sometimes be difficult to pinpoint if an items is the correct fit so I highly recommend that you pop on over and read this post I wrote that shares my top tips for finding a great fit, off the peg.



If clothes don't flatter you and make the most of your shape then you'll be less likely to wear them, even if you love the item!  I'm not saying that you can't or shouldn't wear clothes that are unflattering (in fact, I wrote a post here about how to improve the look of clothes that are less flattering).  But the fact is, if a piece of clothing doesn't do much to show off your shape, you're probably not going to feel great in it, which means you're less likely to wear it.

Take the quiz to find out what your body-type is so you can dress to make the most of your shape


OK, now we’ve identified why you might be purchasing items and not wearing them, let’s chat about what you can do to stop this happening in the future.   Below are 12 things you can do to help determine  if an item is right for you and your closet so you can shop smarter and stop wasting money on clothes you don't wear.​


​Have a quick rummage through your closet before you head to the shops just to remind yourself what you have, this will help you to identify if the new piece will go with what you already have and has the added bonus that you might spot a gap that needs filling, or avoid making a repeat purchase.


​I realize that this is a time consuming solution but it is a BRILLIANT one.  If you catalogue what you have and keep a record of it on your phone, you can take your collection with you wherever you go and will be able to identify how well a new item will slot into your collection before you’ve even handed over your money.  You’ll also be able to visualize possible outfits!  Amazing!!

Obviously, you could photograph each item and add it to a ‘closet’ folder on your phone, but I’d recommend downloading one of the many free closet cataloguing apps that are available.  Many of them not only store your photos in an easy to see format, you can also build outfits within the apps, too, and many of them have a calendar for you to plan your outfits ahead of time.  Here are some of the most popular apps for you to take a look at:

STYLE BOOK  Catalogue your closet, Build outfits, make packing lists, pop outfits into a calendar, find inspiration and more!

YOUR CLOSET Catalogue your closet, build outfits, organize them by season, add outfits to a calendar and pull together packing lists. You can shop from their online catalogue, too but this isn’t something I’ve used.

CLOSET APP Catalogue your closet and use the calendar to plan your outfits. You can even make a note of the washing instructions, and whether something is at the dry cleaner (or needs washing).

CLOSET TRACK a simple app that enables you to catalogue your closet.

CLOSET add your own clothes either by photographing them or select images of your from thousands of brands and retailers. Plan your outfits using their calendar and mix and match looks with your items.

STYLICIOUS Part closet organizer, part outfit planner, part personal shopper.  This app has it all!


​If cataloguing your entire collection is a step to far (and I get that!) then just take a quick snap of your outfit each day.  They’re for your eyes only so they don’t need to be perfect –  just grab a quick selfie in the mirror before you leave for the day.  There are multiple benefits to documenting your outfits:

  • It will help you to identify which clothes you're wearing the most (and what you're not wearing)
  • ​You'll start to notice which clothes fit and flatter you the most
  • And it will give you outfit inspiration for those days when you're struggling to decide what to wear
  • And it will give you a catalogue of sorts to flick through while you're out shopping that will serve as a reminder of what you have back at home.

​I provide my clients with photos of all the outfits I pulled together during our closet consultations and they tell me they find this immensely helpful!


​Take a few of your favorite pieces with you when you shop so you can try them on with your picks.  If that’s not possible, then see if there are any items in the shop that are similar to what you have at home and take ​those into the fitting room with you instead.  This will help you to see how an item might look with your own collection.


OK, this might seem like an obvious one but if you have a tendency to buy one piece at a time and struggle to integrate that into your collection, change how you shop.  

Plan to purchase a few items at once, or buy complete outfits.  When I take my clients shopping we shop for a collection of pieces at once, this way I can ensure that each piece compliments the other and can exploit the mixing and matching possibilities. In fact, when I’m whittling (haha, ​pun intended!) down the items for purchase, any items that aren’t versatile tend to get discarded.

​​6. ​​​​PLAY IT SAFE

​I am all for stepping out side of style comfort zones, and trying new looks, but if you find you’re buying too many pieces that are hanging unworn then it’d advise you not to take baby steps when experimenting, and to not stray too far from what’s comfortable.  

If you tend to stick to a color pallet of neutrals, then throwing a bright pink into the mix might throw you off a little.  And likewise, if you rarely wear print then think twice before adding something in a bold print. 

A fairly safe way to try a new colour, print or trend, is through accessories.  A pair of shoes in a bright colour will be a great way to take your style in a new direction without taking too much risk.


​If you’re someone who finds that rules and lists makes life a little easier then it might be worth looking at your style as a uniform.  Try to identify your style and set yourself some guidelines to help you stick to it. Fellow stylist Arash Mazinani wrote a fantastic article on why a uniform is the easiest way to kill wardrobe frustration, so if you’re looking for some help creating your own uniform I highly recommend you pop on over and take a read!


​​More often than not, the reason you’re not wearing an item is because the fit isn’t quite right.  I know what it’s like – you spot a piece you love, you try it on, instantly love it, and buy it.  Then you get home, try it on again and something’s not right.  

Don’t get blinded by love.  Take a few extra minutes in the fitting room to double check the fit of the garment and, if possible, take it in in two different sizes.  If you’re not sure what to look for when you’re checking the fit of clothing, then you might want to read this post I wrote sharing my tips on what to look for, or you could download my FREE Shop Smarter Checklist at the bottom of this article that tells you exactly what to look for when checking the fit of a garment.

​9. ​​​​​​​BE HONEST

Ask yourself these 3 questions before you purchase something:

  1. Do you really like it, or are you just getting wrapped up in a latest trend?  Would you buy it if ​it wasn't filling your social media feed?
  2. Will it work with what you have back at home?
  3. If the item is reduced, ask yourself if you would buy it if it was full price.  If not, put it back?

​​10. ​​​​​​​​LISTEN TO YOUR GUT

​Following on from the last point, if you love an item but are having any doubts about it, it’s probably not right for you.  

I know it’s hard to leave an item that you’ve fallen head over heels for but if you’re having doubts it’s because something isn’t right…you might not be able to identify exactly what that is, but deep down you know you’re probably not going to get much wear out of it if you take it home with you.

​​1​1. ​​​​​​​​​FOLLOW THE RULE OF THREE

​Don’t purchase anything unless you can think of three uses for it, or can think of three items you already have that it will go with it.  This is where cataloging your closet becomes really useful.​

​​1​​2. ​​​​​​​​​​ASK FOR HELP!

Mixing and matching and curating a collection of clothes that creates a multitude of outfits easily is what I do!  Whether your looking for one piece to bring together a few looks, or a completely new collection of clothes, I can help and absolutely love to!

If you found this post useful, then you might want to check out these posts I’ve written:  

This one shares my tips on checking the fit of a garment,

and this one shares my top tips for shopping the sales like a pro.

Don’t forget ​to download my FREE Shop Smart Checklist that I’ve designed to help you ​buy clothes that will wear:

Hi, I'm Niki

author and personal stylist

Over the past 17 years I’ve freed thousands of women from the frustration of disappointing outfits, by showing them how to dress to make the most of their shape, and helping them build a closet that's easy to use and fun to wear.  My blog shares the tried and true tips and knowledge I've developed, to help you stop wasting money on disappointing clothes, and build a closet you enjoy wearing.

You can find out more about Niki here

And you can get in touch with Niki here