Do you struggle with shopping — or even the idea of shopping? Would you love to know how to shop in a way that is healthy and sustainable?
It might surprise you to learn that, even as a Personal Style Coach, I completely understand that struggle. Shopping can feel indulgent, frustrating, demeaning, unproductive and like self-flagellation. But, it doesn’t have to feel that way.
Collaboratively, we can approach shopping as a healthy self-care practice.
It is absolutely possible to flip the narrative on shopping to one that honors and sustains you as you propel your purpose forward.
Start At The Very Beginning
As Maria sang in The Sound of Music, let’s start at the very beginning (it’s a very good place to start)!
When you’re starting to think about shopping for new items, you need to know the following:
- What do you need to purchase?
- What is your budget?
What do you need to purchase? There are a number of different ways to determine your needs. You could shop your entire closet, you could focus in on a specific event, or you could leverage your favorite outfit. However you decide to work the problem, limit your list to 5 items maximum per shopping trip to keep from going into overwhelm.
What is your budget? If you don’t already, start putting aside a certain amount of your income for self-care. This amount includes clothing, hair cuts, skin care and your gym membership. Working backwards from that number, you can easily figure out what you have each month for clothing. Whether you go shopping frequently, once a season or half-yearly, estimate each item on your needs list will cost and use that estimate to figure out what you can purchase to stay within budget.
You get to choose what you buy, how you buy and what you spend.
Action Your Plan
Once you know what you need and how much you can spend, you can plan your shop. You have to know yourself to make this decision.
You’ll need to decide whether you’ll shop online, in-store or a mixture of both.
- Do you need to try the items on, feel the fabric and have trouble returning? Shop in-store.
- Do you prefer to have all the options, try pieces on at home and have no issue returning? Shop online.
- Do you want a bit of both? Go with both.
Do you prefer to shop in-store? Shopping in-store is immediate. You try it on and you either like it and buy or you don’t. You can also try things that are outside your comfort zone so you can push your limits without the commitment of your time, energy and resource.
Do you prefer to shop online? Shopping online has some built-in advantages. You can fill your shopping bag, think about it and come back later to purchase to avoid the dopamine rush of shopping. You have all the sizing and variety available to you, but you can also limit your shopping to certain colors, items and sizes so you are looking at a curated list.
Do you enjoy a bit of both? Combining shopping in-store with shopping online gives you the best of both worlds. You can access the variety that exists online and limit your in-store shopping to items that you’re unsure of or really want to ensure the right fit.
However you decide to shop, you are in charge. Keep your mind open to new possibilities and buy only what you love.
Building Your Healthy Shopping Practice
After you decide how you’re going to shop, we want to make it a healthy practice. There are a couple elements here:
- What is your shopping mindset?
- How can you make shopping sustainable?
What is your shopping mindset? For some of you, your hatred of shopping comes from fear. On the one end of the spectrum, you are afraid you’ll miss out on a sale and on the other end, you’ll not get a coveted, on-trend piece to wear for the season. It’s also possible you believe you’ll never find something that will look good on you — this may come from a lack of acceptance of your own body.
Pro Tip: Whatever is going on for you, I encourage you to acknowledge your feelings here. Journal. Talk about this with your loved ones. You may even need to do some personal work here with the help of a therapist.
How can you make shopping sustainable? When you purchase items that work with the pieces you already have, you are leveraging your existing wardrobe and giving yourself more options to work with when styling. You also are beginning the process of building a capsule wardrobe, which means you need fewer pieces. This is great for your wallet, your energy and the planet.
Pro Tip: Actively shop brands that practice sustainability like Everlane or Eileen Fisher, shop vintage or rent your clothing.
It is okay for you to look and feel good. You can shop in a way that is sustainable for both yourself and the planet.
How We Make It Happen:
- Determine Your Needs & Your Budget. Figure out exactly how much you have to spend on self-care and allocate it monthly. You can set up an auto-debit and create a separate account or just know the number in your head. Experiment with the number and remember that your needs will ebb & flow. You can also use a separate credit card for your self-care needs if that is an easier way to manage it.
- Decide How You’re Going To Shop. Whether you shop on-line, in-person or both, keep the item list to a maximum of five pieces to avoid going into overwhelm. You can play around here and see which approach works best for you. You may also want to try a subscription box if you’re clear on your personal style. Obviously, you can also shop with me!
- Create A Healthy Shopping Practice. Purchasing the items you need, within your budget in a way that honors your own limits is already a huge step in the right direction. If you experience additional stress when shopping, explore those feelings. This may be something you can work through on your own, I can help you with it or you may need to do some deeper personal work.
For more on this topic:
- Event Shopping: Spring Wedding
- Leverage Your Favorite Outfit: Personal Style As Your Super-Suit
- Accepting Your Body: Accept Your Perfectly Imperfect Body
- Loving Your Body: Do you love your bikini body?