Why You Should Never  Shop For Occasions

I never pay retail for anything (unless it’s from an independent designer, because we have to support the little guys) and I always hold out for what I love. Image: Thinkstock.

I never pay retail for anything (unless it’s from an independent designer, because we have to support the little guys) and I always hold out for what I love. Image: Thinkstock.

Here are a few tips for clothing shopping for special occasions:

  1. DON’T.

That’s right — don’t buy a thing for that wedding or graduation you have to go to!

Shopping for special occasions in a hurried manner is the fastest route to owning a bunch of apparel you don’t actually like, stuff purchased somewhat under pressure.

When I help people clean out their wardrobes, the items I come across that hang in the back closet never seeing the light of day are usually pieces purchased in a frenzy — out of necessity instead of joy.

Many of us have read The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Some of us may have rolled our eyes a little while reading it, too. (Not naming names, but you know who you are!)

While Kondo’s extreme methods of discarding might not be the path towards inner calm for all of us, there are always few pearls of wisdom to be found from every book I pick up.

The concept that all of your possessions should bring you joy isn’t one that will ever wholly work for me.

Let me tell you, at no point in my life will a mop or a vacuum bring me any joy.

But we still own these products because, that’s just what adults do.

Unless you are outrageously rich and just call a maid service when your house needs a clean. If that's your situation… Call me, let’s hang out and be fabulous together! It’s not my situation, but maybe some of your magic will rub off on me.

While we know that it is extremely challenging to have every item in your house bring you joy, I admit with full enthusiasm and approval that I believe your closet is the ONE place where that rule should be applied with reckless abandon.

(But no credit card debt, OK? Never go into debt for style.)

You should never reach into your closet and pull out a pair of trousers that depress you. We all have them, but we shouldn’t feel bad about giving them a new home. In an ideal world, we should strive to avoid buying trousers that depress us going forward.

People often ask me how I shop, because I shop for other people.

My philosophy is simple.

I never pay retail for anything (unless it’s from an independent designer, because we have to support the little guys) and I always hold out for what I love.

When I was young, I could never afford the fashionable pieces I craved, so instead I would buy a cheaper “inspired” version. These garments always left me dissatisfied and usually ended up in the donation pile after a year.

I have found for myself that it is less wasteful to buy exactly what I want — instead of compromising. I just have to wait for it to go on sale. When an item I love finally gets marked down, I take inventory in my closet, and if I have room for it, I buy it.

I don’t bother with the question, “When will I wear this?”

There will always be an occasion. I have never not worn something that I truly love.

Every time late summer arrives, the stores start putting out inventory, which makes us daydream about leaf piles and warm apple cider. At this point, as tempting as it is, I don’t allow myself to buy anything that isn’t in a summer sale section (to be worn next summer).

Instead, I keep a mental inventory of the items that catch my eye in the windows. If I were more organized, I’d write it down in the notebook…

But I’d also probably have way more clothing than I actually need.


Stop asking, “When will I wear this?” and start thinking, “I love this, and there will be an occasion!”


By October, that gorgeous sweater I was eyeing is guaranteed to be on sale. That’s when I strike. Because where I live, winter weather doesn’t actually arrive until late November anyway, so who needs a sweater before then?

Awesome! The dress you’ve been daydreaming about is finally on sale! You run to the store, credit card in hand only to find they’re out of your size. Bummer.

Did you know that most stores can check the inventory of all their stores for you?

If Anthropologie or Madewell find the item in another store for you, they’ll ship it free of charge! (Yes, even if it’s on sale).

Stores are so eager to move merchandise out so they can make room for new stuff, that if it means enticing you with free shipping, they can manage that.

If you’re at a store and you’re not sure what their policy is, always ask nicely. In the words of my mother, “You catch more flies with honey than vinegar.” In a few cases, I’ve found managers can offer complimentary shipping for an item, even though it may not be store policy, so it never hurts to ask.

Also, if you have a store credit card, don’t forget to ask about any perks that may come with that card. Maybe they don’t do free shipping for the general public, but they’ll do it for you.

Nordstrom Rack no longer offers free shipping for card holders who request an item from another store. But I believe if you find the perfect pair of discounted shoes that aren’t available in your size and they find them at another store for you, that’s well worth the price of shipping.

Either way, with technology we are now living in an era where it is possible to get exactly what you want, when you want it. Take advantage of that.

Stop asking, When will I wear this? and start thinking, I love this, and there will be an occasion!

Because there truly will always be a wedding or a celebration that calls for a very nice dress.

There’s nothing better than getting an invitation for an event and knowing exactly what you’re going to wear!

There’s also nothing better than looking in your closet and loving what you see.

If you aren’t dressing with joy, you’re missing out on all the fun!

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