My Top 5 Helpful Hints For How To Stop Buying Clothes You Don’t Need

It’s a common struggle: opening a closet full of clothes and feeling like you have nothing to wear. The cycle of constant clothes shopping can be tough to break, but it’s entirely possible with the right strategies. 

Whether you’re dealing with shopping out of habit, a tiny master closet that just can’t handle more clothes, or the need to spend less money, let’s talk about how to stop buying clothes you don’t need. Hopefully, you’ll find some no-buy inspiration and motivation for simplifying life.

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At this point in my life, I can truly say that I prefer to live without a lot of clothes. From the outside, that might seem like I shouldn’t be the person to give advice on this topic. I mean, it’s ‘easy’ for me to say, ‘Just stop shopping so much.’ Right?

Well, it wasn’t always that way. I was absolutely the person with a closet full of clothes… many of which I never wore. And because of the way my brain works, I kept acquiring more and more… but I still ‘never had anything to wear.’ 

I’ll tell my own ‘solution’ story later, but first, let’s talk about WHY we buy too many clothes and how to use that knowledge…

Why We Buy Too Many Clothes

It’s important to understand some of the underlying reasons why we tend to overbuy clothing. My experience may not be exactly like yours, but hopefully you’ll be able to pick out some relevant portions for yourself.

Once I realized that my ridiculous closet full of clothes was making a lot of things in my life more difficult, I set out to figure out what was going on and what I could do about it.

Here’s what I discovered about why I was buying too many clothes:

1. My weight fluctuated a lot, usually tending toward the very large zone. So, whenever I found a piece of clothing that actually fit, I felt like I HAD to buy it no matter what it looked like or how much it cost. I was afraid of running out of anything that I could wear.

2. At the same time, I would buy really cute clothes in smaller sizes when I found them on deep sales. I always hoped they would motivate me to lose weight.

3. Like many of us with clutter problems, I’m an overwhelmed overthinker. That means I have a really hard time with in-person shopping. All of the racks and the time it takes to look at every.single.thing would end up with me just buying a bunch of random items. I hoped they would work together or with what I already had. That rarely happened, so I was left with clothes that would be really great… if only I could ‘someday’ find the right pieces to make a complete outfit.

4. Being on a tight budget somehow made me feel that if I shopped more often, I would catch better sales. And then during the times when we had a little more money, we would shop for recreation and to get out of the house, telling ourselves that we were ‘just looking’ (of course that wasn’t true).

Those reasons are specific to my situation. There are also other reasons we buy too many clothes:

1. Emotional Buying: Shopping can be a way to cope with stress, boredom, or other emotions. It provides a temporary high that can lead to regret later.

2. Fear of Missing Out (FOMO): Sales and discounts can create a sense of urgency, making you feel like you’ll miss out if you don’t buy now.

3. Aspiration vs. Reality: Sometimes we buy clothes for a fantasy version of ourselves rather than our real, everyday needs.

4. Habit: For many, shopping is a habit ingrained in their routine, whether as a social activity or a way to pass the time.

You’ll want to do some similar work to figure out why you keep shopping for clothes you probably won’t wear. That will make it easier to figure out which of the following tips and suggestions you’ll want to try…

5 Practical Tips to Avoid Shopping for New Clothes

An older woman is wondering how to stop buying clothes as she stands behind a large pile of folded clothes, wearing a gray sweater and blue earrings.

One thing to keep in mind is that your actions influence your thoughts, AND your thoughts influence your actions. You need to work on both, but start with the one that you know is easier FOR YOU.

These are my top tips for someone who wants to stop buying clothes. Some of them involve mindset and thoughtwork, and some of them involve actions. Start with the ideas that make the most sense TO YOU for your own situation.

1. Decide your main reason for WHY you’re going to stop buying so many clothes 

This is REALLY important! If you just SAY you’re going to stop buying clothes, but you don’t have a reason that makes sense TO YOU, then it’s probably not going to work out very well.

And here’s the thing… your reason is your own! You don’t have to explain your goals or reasons to anyone else unless you want to.

Here are a few possible reasons. Feel free to add your own.

  • You love clothes but need to cut back on spending. (This can apply even if you have no intention of getting rid of anything you already have.)
  • You love clothes but just have too many and want to stop adding to the problem.
  • You want to simplify your entire life.

Once you have your reason, regularly remind yourself why you want to stop buying unnecessary clothes. Keep your reason visible to stay motivated.

Also, make a list of thoughts you can use to reframe your mindset when you really want to fall back into old shopping habits. Some thoughts you can borrow:

  • ‘This is giving me the opportunity to be more creative with the clothing I already have.’
  • ‘Perhaps I will discover some new favorite clothing pieces that I already own.’
  • ‘I prefer to have money in the bank (pay off debt, etc.) instead of a bunch of clothes that I never wear.’
  • ‘Constantly shopping and buying new clothes does not impress anyone. It only makes more work for me.’
  • ‘I love being more mindful about my buying habits.’

2. Break the cycle of constant clothes shopping

This whole thing isn’t about depriving yourself. Recognizing when there’s a problem and taking the steps to solve that issue makes you stronger as a person.

With that in mind, you need to take action to break the shopping habit. 

Challenge yourself to a shopping and browsing ban for a specific period, such as one month. Use this time to get your mind in a different space than constant acquisition. We both know that if you’re looking, then you’re priming your brain to buy.

And I mean ALL browsing. No malls. No window shopping. No internet browsing. Unfollow the social media accounts that tempt you to make impulse clothing purchases or feel like you ‘need’ new things.

If your usual social activities involve clothes shopping, either take a break from those activities or suggest some new activities to try.

Stay away from thrift stores. I know you can probably build some amazing outfits on a small budget with the pieces you find, but seriously… just take a break for a few weeks. 

Make a conscious decision to stop shopping as a pastime. When you feel the urge to shop, find other ways to spend your time and money, such as hobbies, saving for experiences, or investing in your future.

Unsubscribe from store emails. Those sale notifications are designed to lure you in. Unsubscribe to reduce temptation.

Another thing you can do is learn about the impacts of fast fashion on the environment and workers to help reduce the appeal of constant shopping.

3. Do a massive wardrobe declutter 

Figure out exactly what you’ve really got to work with. There are probably quite a few pieces in your closet that you have forgotten about.

I’m not suggesting you get rid of everything. BUT if you already know you have an issue with too many clothes, then beginning the process of decluttering your wardrobe will do several things for you:

  • It will raise your awareness of just how much you have. 
  • It will help you to prioritize what you want to keep and what you can let go of.
  • It will give you a better understanding of your personal style and what pieces actually work for you.
  • It will create more space in your closet, making it easier to find and access the clothes you do want to wear.
  • It can help you shift your mindset from acquisition to simplicity and mindfulness.

>> CLICK HERE to grab my free closet decluttering checklist <<

Once you have cleared the excess from your closet, you can try some of these ideas to keep yourself from buying more clothes:

Create a capsule wardrobe: Nobody is saying you need to make a permanent change to living with a capsule wardrobe. I know they don’t work for everyone. But give it a try for a month or so with the pieces you already have. See how it works for you.

Shop your closet: Start making a list of ALL the outfits you can make with the items in your closet. Only work with the pieces that fit you, are in good repair, and that you actually like. I have a feeling your list will be MUCH longer than you expect and you’ll be surprised at how many combinations you can make.

4. Set a money savings goal

Think of it as a savings challenge… and designate a goal for something ELSE to do with the money you would have spent on clothes. When you have a savings goal and you’re really motivated, it’s easier to cut spending. 

Related: ONE Powerful Action You Must Take To Achieve Financial Goals

Make your money goal something that has nothing at all to do with purchasing new clothing. 

For example, don’t save for a lavish vacation that would require expensive clothing you would likely never wear again. Instead, make it something like a trip to visit family, a room renovation, paying off a loan, or building a stress-relieving emergency fund.

Avoid sales if you know they tempt you to buy things you don’t need. Just because something is on sale doesn’t mean you need it!

DON’T say, ‘I’m not buying any clothing for a year!’ Life happens, and if you do need some clothes, you may feel like you’ve ‘failed’ and end up overbuying.

Instead, make it a game or a challenge to see how long you can go without buying anything and then what the absolute minimum is that you need when the time does come for something new.

5. Stop buying new clothes for every occasion

This can be a huge mindset shift. But the thing is… you can always find a ‘good’ reason for a new outfit. Getting creative and NOT doing that can be just as fulfilling. Here are a couple of ideas you could try:

Versatile pieces: Find the versatile pieces in your closet that can be dressed up or down for different occasions. Make this part of your ‘shopping your closet’ exercise, anticipating upcoming events and occasions that might require something a little fancier than your everyday wear.

Borrow when needed: For special occasions, consider borrowing clothes from friends or renting instead of buying something new. 

The thing is, even though these events feel like they ‘require’ a new outfit, nobody is actually going to remember what you wore. I mean, of course you want to be dressed appropriately, but a completely new and different ensemble that will never be worn again is simply not necessary.

So… I’ve given you my suggestions for how to avoid buying new clothes. But how did I solve my own problem and stop buying clothes I don’t need and never wear? What do I do now? How do I handle buying clothes? 

How I Stopped Buying Clothes I Don’t Need

I started by doing a deep wardrobe declutter, during which I got REALLY honest with myself. I stopped making excuses to keep everything, let go of so much, and was shocked at how many things I had never worn (and never would). 

When I got to the end and saw what was left, I realized that I was essentially working with a capsule wardrobe. It’s not anything I would call fashionable, but it fits my life.

At the same time, because we were in the midst of decluttering, we stopped shopping as a distraction or just for something to do. That’s when it really hit me just how terrible in-person shopping had been for me. It’s incredibly stressful and I overbought every.single.time. 

I thought perhaps online shopping would be a better solution to minimize the stress. I tried that for a while, but it actually wasn’t a whole lot better. I would go to a website and spend hours working out the best bargains, searching for clothes that would fit, figuring out exactly how much would get me free shipping, etc. 

And then when the stuff came, invariably some of it didn’t work for me and it felt like a huge hassle to return it. I ended up donating many online purchases that still had the tags on them. So, obviously it wasn’t a complete solution – yes, it was less stressful, but I still ended up with pieces I didn’t wear and therefore spending money unnecessarily.

Eventually, I learned to stick to my personal, comfortable, unstylish-but-I-don’t-care capsule(ish) wardrobe. I keep a list of exactly what I like and what feels good when I wear it, and I try not to stray very far from that list.

As I’ve lost weight over the past couple of years, I simply buy the same styles of clothes in smaller sizes *when I need them.* I no longer buy too-small clothing ‘for motivation’ because I’ve learned it just doesn’t work. 

I do buy some things in-store, but only one type of item at a time… such as jeans OR shoes. I also pay more attention to how I feel. If I get anxious about ‘needing’ to find something and I’m tempted to buy anything that seems like it ‘might’ work, I stop and call it quits for the day. Shopping is a little less stressful that way.

Could I dress more fashionably? Sure. Do I care? Not right now. Could I change my mind someday and decide to build a larger wardrobe? Possibly. But it’s working for me right now, and I love the freedom to live simply with a minimalist closet.

Related: 5 Wardrobe Management Tips To Always Have An Organized Closet

How to Resist Going Overboard When Shopping for Clothes

A bright, minimalist clothing store with neutral-toned garments on racks, wooden shelves, and decorative plants, illuminated by natural light.

There will likely be times when you actually do NEED some new clothes. But that doesn’t mean you should give yourself a license to buy all.the.things. 

Here are some strategies you can try to avoid overbuying clothes you don’t actually need and probably won’t wear:

Make a list: Before buying anything new, make a list of what you actually need and stick to it.

Focus on needs, not wants: When faced with a sale, ask yourself if the item is something you truly need or just want because it’s discounted.

Delay your purchase: Implement a waiting period for purchases. If you still want the piece of clothing after 24 hours or a week, then consider buying it. This works either in person or online!

Think long-term: Consider whether the item will be useful and loved in the long term, not just because it’s a good deal right now or because you’re feeling anxious about what you’ll wear to an upcoming event. Never buy anything new that isn’t exactly what will work for you.

What If You Have a Clothes Shopping Addiction?

If you’re dealing with an addiction, the suggestions in this post may or may not help you temporarily. But honestly, advice about addiction is beyond the scope of this blog post.

If your shopping habits are severely affecting your life, please consider speaking with a therapist or counselor.

More Wardrobe Management Resources

9 Reasons You Fear Decluttering Clothes {And How to Get Past It}

An Imperfect Wardrobe – by Linda Wolfe

Easy Closet Organization Ideas On A Budget To Transform Your Mess

How To Live Without A Dresser: Tips Learned Over 25 Years

Breaking the cycle of constant clothes shopping requires awareness, planning, and a commitment to change. By understanding why you buy clothes you don’t need and implementing these practical tips to stop buying clothes (at least for a while), you can gain control over your spending, simplify your life, and build a wardrobe that truly serves you. 

Start with the suggestions that work for you, stay consistent, and I know you can make progress toward a more mindful approach to clothing and your wardrobe.

You’ve got this!

Illustration of a woman surrounded by pastel-colored plants and clothing items on hangers. The text above reads, "No Buy Inspiration: How to Stop Buying Clothes You Don't Need," indicating a focus on mindful and sustainable shopping habits.

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