How to wear clothes you’ve bought blog graphic

Ensuring that you wear the clothes you buy comes down to more than just what you buy. Buying clothes you’ll actually wear also comes down to what you do with the clothes you’ve bought.

In this post, we’re breaking down how you can treat your clothes after you buy them. PLUS how that impacts your likelihood of wearing the clothes you’ve bought, and I’ll give you some tips for increasing that likelihood.

But first a quick story… 

It took me an embarrassingly long time to realize there were real people who bought clothes and wore them immediately. For a long time, I thought that was one of those Hollywood movie things, like meet-cutes or any other Hollywood trope. 

Ironically, my misconception was shattered on a movie set. I was working in the costume department and was chatting with colleagues. Somehow the topic of shopping came up and someone said something about always being excited to wear newly purchased clothes ASAP. Another person chimed in and said she usually saves new clothes for a special occasion. And I was like “I usually save them until they feel like part of my wardrobe.” 

As it turns out, there’s more than one type of post clothes shopping personality. So here’s what to do with new clothes after you buy them based on your post clothes shopping personality type and some tips for actually wearing the clothes you’ve bought.

(Spoiler: You can be/do more than one. I have, at different times, done all of these.)

Scenario A: Immediately wear the clothes you’ve bought. 

This is what my colleague did. And this is what popular culture would tell us we all do. 

If this is you, you’ll know by the lack of clothes in your closet with the tags still on. Embrace it and wear your new clothes as soon as you want. 

However, as you’re building your wardrobe, remember that building and keeping a wardrobe you love is just as much about what you don’t buy as it is about what you do buy. Try to keep your shopping very intentional, and don’t clutter your wardrobe with things you wear once or twice as soon as you buy them, but never again. 

If this is not you, keep reading. 

Scenario B: Save the clothes you’ve bought to wear for a special occasion. 

This is what the other person did. She bought new clothes and saved them for a special occasion. The occasion could be big – like an event. Or small – like a good day. Either way she saved her new clothes until there was some reason to wear them. (This would be great to combine with 5% Fancier Days). 

If this is you, just make sure you actually end up wearing the clothes you buy. You are enough of a special occasion to wear something special.

Scenario C: Put new clothes in your closet for a special occasion and never wear them. 

On the outside this can look very similar to Scenario B. But you can tell if this is you by the ratio of clothes with tags to clothes without tags hanging in your closet. The trick to saving your clothes for a special occasion is: you do have to wear them eventually. 

If this is you, try hanging your new clothes front and center so you don’t forget about them. And if you’re running into “no special occasion is special enough” consider coaching.

If you’re not sure about your own worn to unworn clothes ratio, consider going through the process of building a wardrobe inventory. It’ll help you work through what you actually love wearing, and what you don’t but still hold onto. And while that can sound overwhelming, it doesn’t have to be – I‘ll walk you through my favorite 4 step process in The Wardrobe Inventory Workbook.

Scenario D: Put new clothes still in the store bag in the closet and promptly forget about them. 

If your closet clean out uncovered bags of clothes with the tags still on, you’ve probably done this once or twice. 

In general, I see this happen when people buy a lot of clothes in a short amount of time. It’s easier to remember the things you bought at the beginning of a shopping spree, or the end (sometimes both). But it’s easy to forget about the things you buy in the middle. 

If this is you, spread out your clothing purchases, and you’ll probably find this happening less. 

A habit you might find helpful is to wait for one purchase to arrive and for you to unpack it before you place the next order – it’s not perfect but it can help. 

(You can also utilize your wardrobe inventory for this.)

Scenario E: Hang clothes on the closet door for 3 weeks and then wear it like you’ve always owned it. 

This is what I often do. 

This and the next scenario are sort of variations on the same sensibility or clothing need. 

The best way I can describe this is wanting clothes to feel familiar and like they fit in my wardrobe before I reach for them regularly. 

If this is you and you’re the type to hang a new purchase on your closet door or within easy view, your trigger for starting to wear new clothes is probably visual familiarity. When you’ve seen a piece of clothing in your life and in relation to your other clothes enough, it will start to feel like yours, and you’ll start wearing it.

You can help the process along by keeping new clothes in prominent view. I have an over-the-door hook on my closet that I hang new clothes on so I see them every time I look at my closet. 

Scenario F: Wear it around the house for a month before wearing it out in public. 

Similar to above, but focused more on touch than sight. If this is you, you’ll start to wear a piece of clothing in earnest when it physically feels familiar to you.

You can help the process along by periodically and intentionally trying on new clothes after you get them. This will help speed up how comfortable you feel in your new clothes. 

Pro tip: Try to favor stores with longer return windows and/or favor brands that hold their resale value. While you can speed up the process of feeling at home in your clothes, this process will still take time. Keeping your return and resale options open will help you avoid a closet full of clothes you never wear. 

If something ultimately doesn’t work for you, don’t hesitate to pass it along. (Once again, might I suggest building yourself an inventory of your wardrobe.)

Scenario G: Hang it on the closet door and never wear it.

If you hang new clothes on your closet door but never wear them, it could be for a couple of reasons. Maybe you’re waiting for it to visually or physically “click” and it never does. OR you’re waiting for it to click but move it out of sight before the click happens. 

Usually, this comes down to either a lack of a decision, or a lack of follow through on your decision. 

That’s something we all do from time to time but if you find yourself in this position often, try setting up some systems so you can wear the clothes you love, and not clutter up your closet. 

What you do after you shop is how you wear the clothes you’ve bought

What we do after we bring new clothes home has a significant impact on if we actually wear the clothes we buy. And we all do different things with our clothes when we buy them. So don’t try to force it. Play to your strengths and you’ll be well on your way to building a wardrobe worth keeping.