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5 Important Questions That Can Prevent You From Buying Crappy Clothes

Just like getting 6 pack abs starts in the kitchen, great style starts in the fitting room.

 

Have you ever bought a piece of clothing that you later found out wasn’t right for you?

You tried the item on in the store, looked at yourself in the mirror, and everything seemed fine. You tell the salesperson you’ll take it, he bags it for you, and off you go.

Later though, you inspect the item more thoroughly, but now you notice something about it that you missed before.

Something about the item just doesn’t sit well with you. Unfortunately you have already pulled off all the tags, so there’s no more taking it back.

You will just have to accept that you made a crappy purchase. There’s no turning back the clock on it.

But what if you could prevent this from happening again?

Why We Make Crappy Purchases

The reason we often find ourselves in the situation described above, is that we make the decision to buy too fast. We don’t take our time to evaluate how the item really looks on us.

When we buy a car or a TV, we inspect every little detail before we make a decision to buy, but when we are clothes shopping, most of us don’t even take the time to properly evaluate how an item looks. We just take a quick look, and if we don’t see anything wrong with it at first glance, we’ll take it.

Why do you think that is?

We Don’t Want to Be Seen as “That Guy”

You know that stereotypical guy that’s obsessed with how he looks? He’s constantly looking at himself in the mirror, fixing his hair, checking his teeth, tidying his clothes. He may even wink at his reflection and tell it he’s looking very sexy today.

We don’t want to be seen (or see ourselves) as that guy. We want to appear aloof, and like we don’t give a damn about our appearance, even when we understand the personal and social importance of it.

But if there’s ever a time to check yourself out in the mirror,  it is when you’re shopping for new clothes. You won’t be considered vain for taking the time to consider your purchase. In fact, that’s exactly what you should be doing.

So what should you be checking for?

A Quick Pre-Purchase Checklist

When you’re trying on new clothes, there are 5 important questions you need to ask yourself.

1. Does it really look good on me?

When you’re trying on clothes, you shouldn’t be evaluating the clothes themselves, but how they look on you.

Something may look great on a mannequin, somebody else, or on the rack, but that doesn’t mean it will look good on you as well. It may not be well-suited for your skintone or your bodytype.

It may accentuate all the wrong things on you. It could make your skin look washed out, or maybe it draws attention to those lovehandles you don’t want anyone to see.

Take the time to consider how the item makes you look, not how the item looks.

2. Does it fit?

This ties in to the previous question, but is worth mentioning separately, because too many guys still get the fit wrong. It’s not even funny.

To properly judge whether an item fits, it’s important to try on clothes as you plan to wear them.

If you’re trying on a dress shirt that you plan to wear to the office, tuck it in, and button it all the way up. Does it balloon around your waist? Does it come untucked when you move your arms? Is the neck too tight when you button it all the way up? These are factors you won’t find out if you try it on as if it were a casual shirt.

You should also take shrinkage into consideration. If something borderline fits in the fitting room, then chances are it will no longer fit after a good washing.

Take the time to learn about fit, and then be meticulous about getting it right.

3. Will it work with the rest of my wardrobe?

Not many guys keep their existing wardrobe in mind when they’re shopping for new clothes.This is a flawed approach. 

You want to be able to wear your new clothes with several items you already own, or you won’t wear them that much, which is a waste of your money. 

From now on, when you try on something new, consider what you already have in your closet that you could wear it with.

In fact, you should consider this before you even go out the door. Think about what you’re in the market for; a v-neck sweater, dark jeans or a pair of dress shoes. Try to be as specific as possible, think about the color, the pattern and even the dressiness you want. Then, select items from your closet that you will want to wear the item with.

When you’re trying on new dress shoes, you should be wearing dress socks and a pair of dress pants. What good are these new dress shoes, if your current pants are too long to wear with them? What good is your new v-neck sweater if it’s too tight to wear a dress shirt under?

4. Will I still like wearing this 5 years from now?

This question helps you decide whether you genuinely like an item, or whether you only want it because it’s trendy or on sale right now.

There’s nothing wrong with trends, but you should only invest in one if you like it, and not just because everyone else is wearing it. You want it to fit into your personal style. 

If you’re only wearing it because it’s trendy, you will stop wearing it when it goes out of style. You won’t get a lot of bang for your buck. Clothes that are timeless and transcend seasons are always the best investments.

Similarly, you shouldn’t be too hasty when you find yourself a bargain. Sometimes, when something is on sale, and we’ve been wanting something like it, we’re too quick to take out our wallet.

But even an item on sale is a waste of money if it’s not really what you were looking for or it doesn’t look perfect on you. That’s why you should still go through this checklist when you’re trying on discounted items.

5. Is it made of natural fabrics?

You should check the label to see what material the garment’s made of.

Synthetic clothes may be cheaper, but frankly, they suck. I found this out the hard way when I was in a club wearing a polyester shirt, and my sweat glands started working overtime. Make note: Sweaty pits are never a good look.

Natural fabrics let your skin breathe. They’re light-weight and soft, and they don’t have that artificial shine that synthetic clothes often have.

You’re much better off spending your money on a natural item, even if they cost a little bit more. 

Bookmark this page, so you don’t forget

Ask yourself these questions the next time you’re out shopping for new clothes. If you can answer “Yes!” to all 5, you’ll know you have an item on your hands that’s worth your money.

If you want to make sure you never forget to check for something, you should bookmark this page on your phone. That way you’ll always have a checklist on hand, and buyer’s remorse will be a thing of the past.

Think I’ve left something off of this checklist? Ever made a crappy purchase that wouldn’t have been prevented by asking these questions? Let us know in the comments!

About

Robert van Tongeren has spent the last few years teaching himself to dress better, and now he wants to help other style novices do the same. His site Restart your Style is dedicated to helping you get started on rebuilding your wardrobe. Read more about him here.

 
  • http://www.mattsayar.com Matt Sayar

    I once bought a pair of Target jeans based on waist size and leg length alone. They looked like mom jeans. I learned my lesson.

  • Dave

    @Matt – you bought jeans at Target. There’s your problem.

  • http://restartyourstyle.com Robert van Tongeren

    @Matt: Yep, sometimes we’re so focused on getting one thing right, we forget about the rest.

    @Dave: Even Target has its hidden gems. Just check this out.

  • lolwut

    After re-entering the singles scene a few years ago following a very long-term relationship, I was looking to start a new “going out” wardrobe.

    Sadly, this included quite a number of T-shirts in the unmistakable “Affliction” style: reflective print, tribal graphics, raised felt lettering, etc. Seemed so cool at the time…

  • http://restartyourstyle.com Robert van Tongeren

    @LOLWUT: Haha, I can’t begin to tell you the many regretful wardrobe decisions I’ve made over the years. At least we’ve wised up, right?

  • Greg_s

    So I should stop winking at myself in the…. Oh I’m sorry. Caught my reflection in my phone and got distracted..

  • John

    Why the hate for synthetics? Yes your polyester disco shirt probably didn’t breathe, but I’ve got some 60/40 cotton/poly polos that breathe quite nicely and the collar doesn’t do that wrinkle thing that cotton ones do. And they’re holding their color nicely too. Should I avoid nylon or poly in my swim trunks, as well? What about Lycra in my socks and underwear? It’s a slippery slope.

  • http://restartyourstyle.com Robert van Tongeren

    @Greg_S: Haha, happens to the best of us :)

    @John: I agree that blend fabrics can breathe alright, and yet it’s the cotton in your polos that allows them to breathe. So when you do buy blended clothes, make sure there’s more natural fabrics in them than synthetic ones.

  • Marshall

    You can still return clothing even after you ripped off the tags as long as you still have the tags. The tags don’t need to be attached to the clothing item. I’ve done it dozens of times. Hell, I even returned a Banana Republic Factory suit without the tags, and they still took it.

  • http://gcthomas.com peter

    nice call on the natural fabrics. i recently started trying to buy more quality things that are on sale (banana republic instead of express)
    even if the synthetic looks better while you’re in the shop, or the first time you wear it, the natural product holds up much better over time.

  • http://www.themodestman.com Brock

    Robert – all great points. I’d argue that #2 (fit) is by far the most important. If it doesn’t fit, you won’t be wearing in in five years (unless it’s way too big and you plan on getting fatter). Also, it definitely won’t fit into your wardrobe…because nothing that doesn’t fit properly fits into your wardrobe.

    I like the idea of leaving your ego behind. It’s okay to spend some time in the dressing room. Some of us can’t help but feel a little lame standing in line for the fitting rooms…usually with a bunch of chicks…with an armful of garments. And then coming back after we adjust for size.

    Don’t worry about what people think. Listen to Robert!

    -B

  • http://restartyourstyle.com Robert van Tongeren

    @Marshall: Really? Huh, you live and you learn, I guess. Still, it happened to me plenty of times that I discovered something wrong about something I bought weeks after the purchase.

    @Peter: Agreed.

    @Brock: Yeah #2 is very important. If it doesn’t fit, you shouldn’t be wearing it NOW… Never mind 5 years from now :p

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