How to prioritise your clothing purchases

A girl standing in front of white columns wearing a white t-shirt and black pants, minimalist work outfit, simple outfit, white t-shirt, minimalist work outfit ideas
A girl standing in front of white columns wearing a white t-shirt and black pants, minimalist work outfit, simple outfit, white t-shirt, minimalist work outfit ideas. How to prioritise your clothing purchases
Girl standing in front of Tempe House wearing a minimalist work outfit of a white top, black work pants and red ballet flats. Minimalist outfit inspiration, work wear outfit ideas, classic style, timeless outfits, clothing priorities, styling hacks.
Girl standing in front of Tempe House wearing a minimalist work outfit of a white top, black work pants and red ballet flats. Minimalist outfit inspiration, work wear outfit ideas, classic style, timeless outfits, clothing priorities, styling hacks.
Girl standing in front of Tempe House wearing a minimalist work outfit of a white top, black work pants and red ballet flats. Minimalist outfit inspiration, work wear outfit ideas, classic style, timeless outfits, clothing priorities, styling hacks.
A girl standing in front of white columns wearing a white t-shirt and black pants, minimalist work outfit, simple outfit, white t-shirt, minimalist work outfit ideas
A girl standing in front of white columns wearing a white t-shirt and black pants, minimalist work outfit, simple outfit, white t-shirt, minimalist work outfit ideas. How to prioritise your clothing purchases.

Ah priorities. Life seems endlessly filled with them.

Now, I know what you’re thinking…doesn’t this word belongs more on my CV, than a fashion blog which, let’s face it, you’re probably reading to relax after a long day of juggling exactly that – priorities?

I completely understand. The mere mention of this little word can be enough to conjure up the same time-ticking, anxiety-riddled connotations as words like “time management” and “deadlines”. However, please give this word (and blog post) a second chance because I’m beginning to think that perhaps I’ve overlooked the benefits that prioritisation can offer our lives and wardrobes. 

I began to reflect on the concept of clothing priorities last week when faced with a #firstworldproblem. A pair of white jeans and a black body suit were both items on my clothing wish list which I wanted to purchase (I’ll write a blog post about how I create a clothing wish list soon) by my monthly budget allocated to clothing only allowed me to purchase one of them – at this point in time.

This little scenario made me reflect on the factors I considered (both in this instance and in general) when choosing between two items of clothing that I love. It also made me realise that prioritising my purchases wisely might just be the next best thing to having an unlimited fashion budget (magic wand anyone?) when it comes to creating the wardrobe I want and love.

You see, each time we buy an item of clothing we are choosing, consciously or unconsciously, to prioritise it over something else, even if we’re not aware of it. By becoming more aware of some of the thought processes behind a specific purchases in order to get more milage out of you funds and wardrobe? If you’re wondering how to prioritise your clothing purchases, here’s a few things I like to consider.

1. Is it urgent, important or nice to have?

While the the word priority is simply defined as a “thing that is regarded as more important than others”. You might have heard of the Eisenhower method of productivity where tasks are categorised as urgent/important, important/not urgent, urgent / not important and not urgent / not important. While I don’t think this time management theory is directly applicable to fashion related purchases, loosely categorising potential purchases in this way can be helpful considering how to prioritise your clothing purchases. Is an item urgent/important (ie. a new pair of runners which you need before exercising because your old pair is worn out), important but not urgent (ie. a pair of runners you use a lot but your old pair already have some miles left in them), urgent but not important (ie. a new dress for a particular event which you might want but you have others you could wear), not urgent or important (items which are nice to have, ie. that dress you’ve been looking at for a while but you don’t really “need” as such). 

Now, I’m not going to pretend that I haven’t (many times) prioritised nice to have items (ahem, dresses) over more urgent / practical items (ahem, runners) on multiple occasions but categorising a potential purchase in this manner at least allows me to think consciously about whether there are any other important and/or urgent purchases that I might need to save or apply my funds to and so I am aware of the choice I’m making. And I have learned through past experience that my life is often easier when I prioritise those practical, important day to day items first. 
In the case of my recent decision, both items were probably in the “nice to have” category – although the jeans might have been borderline as “important” as I don’t have many pairs at the moments and they are one of the items I wear regularly.

2. Does it match with other items in my wardrobe?

As I’ve mentioned here before, versatility is an important factor for me when purchasing an item of clothing because the number of ways I can style it, determines how much wear it gets. In this case, both were items I could style with multiple pieces so this wasn’t a differentiating factor – but in other instances this might impact my decision.

3. How many wears will it get?

Like question number 2, the number of wears an item gets is an important factor for me from both a sustainability and cost per wear perspective. I knew both items would have received a lot of wear, but this can often be an important consideration when choosing event wear or an “on trend” item over a more classic, functional piece.

4. Do I have other items which are similar?

This was a large consideration for me when deciding between the white jeans and body suit. I already have two black body suits whereas I didn’t have a pair of white jeans. While this body suit was a different design to the ones I already owned and I don’t mind replicating certain basic or classic pieces, I’m more likely to try to fill a “gap” in my wardrobe as opposed to doubling up on something I already have.

5. Will one sell out faster than another?

Both the jeans and body suit were from popular brands – so it was a possibility that either could sell out in my size. However, I felt the jeans would be more likely to sell sooner than the body suit and whether I can come back and buy an item at a later date (or second hand) is definitely something I consider when prioritising one garment over another.

6. If I'm purchasing online, have I bought from this brand before?

I’ve had several experiences in the past where something has looked good online but upon receiving it, the quality wasn’t up to scratch, the sizing wasn’t right or it simply didn’t suit. While I love trying new brands online, I’m more cautious – particularly if I have to pay for postage or have the potential hassle of taking it to the post office for a return. While this wasn’t a weighty consideration, the fact that I had bought this brand of jeans before meant that generally knew my size and the quality I could expect. It probably did nudge me in the direction of them over the bodysuit which was a brand I hadn’t tried (but was wanting to try) before.

7. Are there multiple similar options available?

Do you ever find yourself seeing an item of clothing everywhere but then when you go to buy it you can’t find it anywhere? Maybe it’s just because Australia is in winter at the moment but I thought white jeans would be easy to find. Turns out I really struggled to find a pair which met my requirements. The body suit was also a fairly unique design – again, making it a difficult choice. However, if there a lot of similar options available that I would be happy with, compared to a more unique piece – I’m more likely to choose the latter.

8. What is the cost of each item?

This one is fairly self explanatory. In this instance both items were a similar price. However, the cost differentiation can be an important factor in choosing between two garments. 

When both items of clothing have similar merits going for them, the decision can still be difficult. Sometimes it simply comes down to preference or gut instinct. However, I find that running through these questions can be helps me make a more considered, informed choice and I’m better able to prioritise clothes which well help me to get more milage out of my wardrobe, as a whole, as opposed to just buying an item on a whim. 

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, the jeans won out in the end – predominately because I already had two similar body suits, it was hard to find a pair of white jeans which met my requirements and I felt that this item would sell out more quickly than the bodysuit. 

Outfit: Top thrifted (similar here), Country Road Black Pants (similar here), Trenery Ballet Flats (similar here). 

Photos: Sara Eshu

August 1, 2021

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