Why Shopping Sales is Destroying Your Wardrobe

If you look around at what’s going on in a clothing store most people are looking at price tags, not clothing. What this means is that most women are not getting what they want but rather getting what they think they can afford.  It can also equate to filling your closet with mediocre pieces that give you the illusion of having more clothing options but that never give you the ease of having great outfits that you love.  

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I conducted a research study early in my career and the most interesting finding was that consumers of fast fashion (versus slow fashion) invested the same amount of money in their clothing.

If you’re familiar with this terminology you’ll know that typically fast fashion includes stores such as Forever 21, Zara, and H&M.  Their clothing is often a lower price point, lower quality, and has the reputation for being disposable.  Slow Fashion on the other hand tends to more expensive, possibly designer labeled, and more seasonless.  

My hypothesis for this research was that slow fashion consumers would have spent a considerable amount more on clothing simply due the price point and quality of slow fashion clothing.  As I mentioned, this was NOT the case.  Do you know what this finding really shows us?

Women do not need to break the bank OR shop cheap, trendy stores to build a wardrobe they love!  

This finding serves as a guiding principle at my personal styling company, Watson Style Group.  This principle allows us to  build high-quality wardrobes that gives clients a closet full of good-to-go outfits and you can have the SAME thing with a just a few tweaks to your current shopping habits.  

The reason why shopping sales is destroying your wardrobe is actually quite simple.  It facilitates adding more unintentional, “this could work!” clothing into your closet.  

Unintentional sale purchases cause frustration for every woman we work with. Not only do they make getting dressed more of a challenge because you don’t really love these items, but they ultimately cost more money because you have to “make” them work.  We see this every single day- when you’re tired of them taking up space in your closet they make their way to the donation pile.

I want to be clear that I’m a huge advocate for buying things on sale.  I’m also a huge advocate for buying fewer items and paying full price for items that will serve as staples in your closet.  

When we ask clients the number one thing that prevents them from creating their dream wardrobe it’s “fear of buying the wrong items.”  

This fear usually shows up as guilt for spending money on something that didn’t work or taking the time away from work or family to shop. Ultimately, they try to avoid the terrible feeling of time and money not well spent

This fear also keeps women frozen, unhappy with their wardrobe, and buying items that are ‘safe’ (inexpensive and versatile).

Here’s how to put the kibosh on this “fear of buying the wrong items” so you can finally start to build your dream wardrobe.  You deserve it!!

To start, follow these non-negotiable shopping rules:

No matter where your price sensitivity falls we all swoon over a bargain- ask yourself “would I pay full price for this?” before purchasing-  9 times out of 10 answering this question honestly will keep items out of your closet that take up space and will allow you to fill your closet with items that you love and know exactly how to wear.

  • Always, always, always choose quality over quantity.  You may feel as if you need more clothing but actually you need more outfits.  The quickest way to more outfits are high quality pieces that expand the options you already have.  Adding a quality, versatile skirt and blazer to pair with some of the workhorses you already own can add miles to your closet.

  • Shop in outfits.  This is an extra special tip because it’s crazy impactful whether you adore shopping or hate it.  When you go shopping, whether it’s for fun or because you’re in desperate need of something, make sure you have a list!  This list should contain items that create an entire outfit- either using pieces you have at home or pieces you’ve envisioned to create the full outfit you’re searching for.  This list can be as simple as a note in your smartphone- find great white tweed blazer for travel to pair with Burberry scarf and red silk blouse. We give step-by-step instructions for creating a return-proof shopping list in our complimentary Online Shopping Guide for Polished and Professional Women.

Some women fear these suggestions will diminish the joy or the easy breezy nature of their shopping trips.

They will NOT, I promise, and here’s why...

These tips will help you create outfits which will not only bring incredible ease to your life but make shopping even more enjoyable.  

The beauty of outfits (versus random clothing purchases) is that it they make you feel like you’ve invested significantly more in to your wardrobe than you really have.  $5000 worth of clothing feels WAY different that $5000 worth of outfits.


Let me explain...

If you were to spend $5000 on clothing you would think, wow I just spend a ton of money, I have so many great things to wear.  The reality is that soon these items will feel exhausted and you’ll be left saying “I have nothing to wear!”

We’ve all been there, so give yourself a break!  

What you want is $5000 worth of outfits, not clothing. $5000 worth of clothing can easily (I’m talking EASILY) make 30 perfectly styled outfits. Using an average item cost of $100 (some will be less, some will be more) and estimating that each of your outfits use about 5 pieces, your styled outfits have a value of $500 each.  Multiply this outfit value by 30 and voila! your wardrobe now FEELS like you spent $15,000.

In each scenario you spent $5000.  In scenario one you gained quite a bit of clothing but were left saying “I have nothing to wear” after a couple months.  In scenario two you gained 30 outfits and wardrobe that feels like you spent $15,000 when you really only spend $5000.  

And let me tell you from personal reality and 10 years of personal styling experience, a wardrobe that feels like $15,000 transforms lives.

Women are fueled by how the feel in their clothing and when a woman has a closet full of good-to-go outfits very little can stand in her way.  

If you’re thinking $5000 is a huge chunk of change then I challenge you to add up what you’ve spent on clothing this past year. Every. Single. Time. we ask a client this question they say “Oh I’m shocked to say this but I actually spent $XX,XXX.XX!!”  

It’s always well over the figure they had in their mind.  If you’re spending quite a bit on clothing and you don’t have something to wear to every single place you need to be- that’s a problem! You must take this advice and triple your investment by turning everything you own into outfits you love.  

Download our complimentary Online Shopping Guide for Polished and Professional Women.  It will teach you exactly how to add outfits (not just clothing) to your wardrobe and it teaches a simple and super fun way to to make a return-proof shopping list!

This ultimate shopping guide also categorizes over 100 stores and brands so you’ll know exactly where we go to find the perfect items for our polished and professional clients. Enjoy!   



Zarley Watson, Maegan, and Ruoh‐Nan Yan. "An Exploratory Study of the Decision Processes of Fast versus Slow Fashion Consumers." Journal of Fashion Marketing and Management: An International Journal 17, no. 2, 141-59. doi:https://doi.org/10.1108/JFMM-02-2011-0045.