Shopping Control Techniques

By: Madhiha Taseen

When you are shopping for investment pieces (or for any other items) for your capsule wardrobe, the following steps are the best way to shop to save money, time, and frustration. It will allow you to build your ultimate wardrobe and be assured you will wear the items, given the many road block checks along the way:

To demonstrate the following steps, we will use a ‘raincoat’ as our example investment purchase.

  1. Create a vision board AND checklist for what mandatory* features you want in your raincoat.
  • Checklist: Colour Material? Form? Details? Is this coat also going to play as your spring jacket? Detachable hood or no hood? Short or long? Etc.
  • Vision Board: you can also browse ideas online. It doesn’t matter what the price is, just scan for what you like for your vision board.

* If you list too many features, you may never find it. Allow some room for innovative finds but make sure not to sacrifice the essential features that you will be listing in your checklist.

  1. View potential raincoat purchases across stores ONLINE. Create a folder/document with price, material, store, and save their links.
  • HACK: A way to check how many of your selected raincoat is left in stock online is to put all of them of your size in your cart (basically until it gives a notification that it is out of stock upon checkout). This only works if the company doesn’t re-stock periodically or give limits in their cart. The number of raincoats in your cart is how much ‘time’ you have left until it gets entirely sold out and if there are still enough time to afford waiting for a sale.

2. Keep this folder until you go shopping. By the time you plan your shopping trip (after a few days), if you have already forgotten about a raincoat you had previously put in your folder, you will likely forget it once it is in your wardrobe too. So leave it. Delete those raincoats from your folder.

3. For those raincoats you still liked and remember, go to their respective stores and try them on (confirm your size). If you don’t like them on or are not ‘equal or better’ than what you expected, leave it.

  • I recommend this step as opposed to buying online, because the extra work in having to return the raincoat by mail may prevent you from returning it (you may assess that it is ‘good enough’ to rationalize not having to return or assume this is the better size when a larger or smaller may have been better). Shopping in store may be ideal but it is not always possible if what you want can only be found online.
  • If you find a raincoat that wasn’t online, refer to your checklist for essential features before trying it on.
  • If the raincoat is not in-store (only online left), you can purchase through the store. You can pay them as usual and they will let you know once it has arrived at the store (or to your house if there is no added cost). This usually avoids shipping fees and the return policy here is a lot better than online-only stores since you will not be forced to pay shipping fees to return in case it is not what you expected. You can simply return to the store and return it from here.
  1.  IF YOU CHOSE TO BUY LATER: When you go to the store to inspect the raincoat in person, you can decide whether you can afford to wait (if many are still in stock online and there is a potential reduction in future price).
  • If so, you can leave to buy from a free shipping method online when you are no longer willing to wait. It’s OK to buy online now since you already saw and confirmed you wanted the raincoat.
  1. IF YOU CHOSE TO BUY NOW: (Not many in stock, or won’t be able to take advantage of this sale again before goes out of stock). Make sure the items are returnable for refund within the month (on credit is a huge annoyance since it compels you to buy items you may not want next time) – avoid these purchases unless you are certain you will not return it.
  • Impulse buys usually come from ‘sales’ and ‘clearance’ and ‘final sales’. It should be mitigated if you had done your prior research and truly stick to the above steps.
  • Also, just before you purchase, treat all garments as if they were already in your closet – would you buy it again if it were at a higher price? Is this a versatile piece over all my outfits?
  1. Leave the raincoat with tags in your closet (in an obvious place). If you don’t feel the need to wear it by the time the return date is about to expire, return it!
  • Even if these are off-season purchases (during sales), you can usually still get at least one wear out of it before the season is truly over. But this also likely means final sales (may not be returnable). This is the trade-off between sale items and non-sale items that you alone will need to assess if worth the lowered price.

2. At this point, you should be very excited about your purchase and cannot wait to wear at the next opportunity.

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