How to Avoid Impulse Buying: When Shopping Goes Wrong | Style Girlfriend

Friday Question: What was your last impulse buy?

Friday Question: What was your last impulse buy?

Filling our closets with bad choices
impulse buying cartoon

By Megan Collins | Last Updated: Mar 18 2018 | 3 min read

My name is Megan, and my last impulse purchase was at a sample sale. Yesterday.

…Okay, okay, I know some people have a serious problem with shopping, and I don’t mean to make light of that. I do not have a problem. If anything, I probably don’t refresh my wardrobe often enough, relying on a few staples I wear a hundred different ways. So when I do whip out my credit card for clothes (or shoes..or accessories..), I usually feel some immediate regret, no matter how great that purchase winds up being.

So, I’m curious your take on impulsive shopping purchases. When it’s worked out, and how to avoid impulse buying when that piece just doesn’t belong in your closet.

For me, the whole thing started out innocently enough. A friend works at a clothing brand that I like well enough, though the clothes never seem to fit me all that well, but when she promised “deals galore” (not an exact quote, but you get the idea) at a private friends and family sale. I thought, Sure, why not?

When I arrived, she spotted me from across the room and waved. “Oh, I thought of you when I saw this earlier!” she told me excitedly, rushing me over to a table piled high with who knows what, and pulled out a small, silky bundle. She held it up, and a high-waisted skirt unfurled. It had a turquoise, blue, black and white pattern, and looked a little Mad Men-esque… Or maybe like something they’d sit on in Mad Men.

“Would this fit you?” she asked excitedly.

patterned skirt
See? Not quite me

Well, let’s see.

I shrugged it on over what I was wearing—sample sales aren’t usually a fitting room-friendly environment—and…yup. It fit. At least, it buttoned over the leggings I had on (it was a short week..don’t judge me).

Did I have any idea what I’d wear with this skirt? No. Did I particularly care for the color scheme? Meh. But it was so cheap! And my friend thought of me specifically to become its new owner! And…and so I bought it.

Back home, I stared into my closet, clutching the skirt and searching for a top—any top—to pair with it. I found a couple options to try, but they didn’t shake the feeling of buyer’s remorse I woke up with this morning.

Do you have any of these impulse purchases in your closet?

The clothes you bought “just because?” Because it was on sale? Because you thought you wouldn’t have the chance again? Because the store was closing, and you had to buy something?

Tell me: Have you worn it since? Or is it sitting crumpled in the back of your closet, but you just can’t bring yourself to get rid of?

The clearance rack can be an especially magnetic impulse purchase zone. Those khaki chinos with the pleats that—once removed from the glaring dressing room lights—look totally unflattering on you. The sweater that fit like a dream…in a weird, lima bean green color, and whose tags you still haven’t taken off.

Of course, impulse purchases can also be great.

The leather jacket your significant other pressured you into buying on vacation in Milan that’s now perfectly beat up and makes you feel like the Fonz the second you put on. That concert tee you picked up ten years ago that now fits perfectly and is just the right amount of faded.

Personally, I’ll take the wonky skirts with the leather jackets. Every item we add to our closet, and even those we eventually donate to Goodwill in the same condition it arrived, teaches us something about our personal style, and hopefully, strengthens our shopping behavior.



I started Style Girlfriend to help guys look, feel, and act their best.