The topic for this post occurred to me as I was writing last week’s Try-On Haul. There are so many factors to consider when trying to decide whether to buy an article of clothing (or to keep or return, if you ordered online.)
I thought I would pull together a list of the things I ask myself when trying on clothes, in case this is something you need. In fact, I even decided to make a checklist for you to download, if you’d like!
First of all, you do have to try things on. And ideally, you should try on the item in question with a complete outfit you might wear with it.
That’s why I’m a huge proponent for ordering online and trying things on at home. That way, I can play around with various outfit combinations and be sure I really like the piece before committing to keeping it. Even when I shop in-store, I usually bring the items home and play around with them a bit before ripping the tags off.
I also highly recommend taking pictures of the potential outfits. Just a simple mirror selfie will do. For some reason, it’s a lot easier to tell if an item looks good or not from a picture than just looking in the mirror. Plus, I also like to have those pictures to help me remember the outfit combinations I liked. Then whenever I’m feeling stumped to get dressed, I can look back at those pictures for reminders and outfit inspiration.
Okay, so here’s a list of the questions I like to ask myself when debating whether or not to keep a certain item of clothing.
10 Questions To Ask Yourself When Trying Things On
#1. Does it fit correctly? (And does it fit my current body correctly?)
The most fundamental question you should ask yourself is whether the clothing item fits well. Pay attention to the shoulders, sleeves, waist, and inseam. Don’t be afraid to be picky. If you know you can do better, the item should go back.
If it’s an issue that is easy to tailor, be honest with yourself about whether or not you’re willing to go to the effort and expense to have that done. Some stores like Nordstrom offer alterations, so if you’re purchasing there, go ahead and deal with the tailor at the time of purchase. It’s too easy to procrastinate that task once you get it home.
Finally, avoid the temptation to buy something that’s too tight or too loose with the hope that it will magically fit someday. Let me let you in on a little secret: Someday almost never comes. Buy clothing that fits your body as it is right now.
#2. Does it complement your body type?
Understanding your body shape is key to dressing well. If you aren’t sure what your body type is, I highly recommend Kelly Snyder’s Adore Your Wardrobe Body Type Calculator or Jen Mackey-Mary’s Everyday Style School Body Shape Quiz. Both of those women offer paid courses, as well, if you really want a deep dive.
Ask yourself if the clothing item enhances your best features and flatters your unique body shape. Most of us are happiest in silhouettes that highlight our strengths and downplay any areas we’re less comfortable with.
Not to suggest that you should never wear a style you love even if it isn’t the best shape for your body, but in general, knowing what looks best on you will help make those decisions easier.
#3. Does it work for your lifestyle?
Be honest about your lifestyle and daily activities. Is the item of clothing practical for your everyday life, and do you have somewhere to wear it?
So many times I am tempted to buy something, and I sadly put it back on the rack, thinking to myself, “I don’t live that life.”
There’s nothing more depressing than having a closet full of clothes for a life you don’t lead. Even if they fit and look great on, they won’t get worn, and you will feel terrible getting rid of them, so they will just sit there, creating guilt and visual clutter.
#4. Does it align with your personal style?
Your wardrobe should reflect your personality and style preferences. If you’re unsure about an item of clothing, perhaps it feels like a departure from your usual aesthetic. This is a time to ask more of these questions, and consider whether or not it’s worth the investment.
Sometimes, we need to take a risk to get out of a style rut, but if the item is too far outside of your personal style aesthetic, it may be hard to make outfits with it from your closet, and you may not find yourself reaching for it.
I like to compare most items I try on with my three personal style words: modern, polished, and understated. If I feel unsure about an item, chances are it doesn’t fit all three of those criteria.
#5. Can you shop your closet and come up with two or three outfits with this item of clothing?
When considering a new item, I try to envision how it will fit into my existing wardrobe. Or better yet, I take it home and try it on with a few different outfit combinations.
If I can’t make a few complete outfits with it, I either purchase the pieces I need to complete the look, or I just return it.
#6. Is it versatile?
Consider the versatility of the clothing item. Can it be dressed up or down? Does it work for multiple occasions?
Versatile pieces will provide more value for your money. If it isn’t super versatile, but you still love it, maybe find a less expensive option. Always consider cost per wear when adding to your closet.
#7. Is it good quality?
Examine the quality of the fabric, stitching, and overall craftsmanship. Investing in well-made pieces may cost more upfront, but they tend to last longer and provide better value in the long run.
Again, consider the cost per wear, and don’t always be looking for a “bargain” or a “deal.” It’s generally worth it to pay for a quality item, especially if you plan to keep it for a few years and/or wear it often.
This is probably a good place to remind you not to purchase something you don’t love “just because it’s a good deal.” Shopping the clearance racks should be done very intentionally with a lot of discernment, because it’s too easy to fill your closet with a bunch of stuff that’s just so-so because “it was a good deal.”
If you wouldn’t pay full price for it, you probably don’t really love it enough to buy it on sale.
#8. Is it comfortable?
Style is important, but you shouldn’t need to sacrifice comfort to get the look you want. If an item is not comfortable in the fitting room, chances are it won’t be comfortable in your daily life.
If you aren’t sure, wear the item around the house for a couple of hours with the tags on. Sit, bend, stretch, do all the things you normally do… (except eat, of course; you don’t want it to get stained) but be sure it will be comfortable for your day-to-day life.
#9. Does it make you feel confident?
Clothing is a powerful thing. What we wear has a huge impact on our mood and self-perception, so only purchase items that boost your confidence and make you feel fantastic.
That might mean you have to kiss a few frogs before you find your prince, but it’s worth the time and effort to build a wardrobe you love that makes you feel good about yourself.
#10. Are you excited to put it on and wear it right now?
Sometimes we settle for things just because it’s a good deal or we’re too lazy to keep looking. But if you aren’t excited to put it on and wear it right now, chances are you won’t reach for it when you go to get dressed in the morning.
Avoid settling for “good enough” and carve out some time to find pieces that make you excited to get dressed in the morning.
Even if your time and/or budget is extremely limited, you deserve to have a closet full of clothes you love to wear. Hopefully this list of questions is helpful, as you are clothes shopping and making purchasing decisions this spring!
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