5 Tips for Mindful Dresses Shopping

A woman shopping for a maxi dress
Dress shopping seems easy, but when you are not sure of what you want, it can get pretty stressful. Keep these tops in mind to help you out.

Have you ever opened your closet full of clothes and found nothing to wear? You have tons of dresses and shoes, and none of them seem appropriate for that day. Well, that is a result of mindless shopping.

According to new research from Greenpeace, we are buying 60% more clothing items than we did only 15 years ago. Also, we are keeping them for about half the time, which means clothes will soon be the number two destroyer of the environment after industrial waste.

In retrospect, it’s not difficult to see how this is possible. Thanks to the internet and global shipping, it has become effortless to just click and buy anything globally on impulse and have it delivered to your doorstep. Social media has also bombarded our feeds with new trends, influencers telling us about things we must buy, and information we never really needed.

As a result, we have closets full of clothes we rarely wear, if ever, bank balances begging to be left alone, and a globe that’s crying for help.

What do we do? Well, we stop for a second and start thinking deliberately about what we are buying. Fashion designer Vivienne Westwood summarized mindful shopping in one phrase-

“Buy less, choose well, make it last.”

In other words, a mindful shopper doesn’t buy things on impulse. Shopping is not a mind-numbing, leisurely thing you do when you are bored or feeling down. Each dress you buy should have a purpose, and you must love it so much that you wear it often.

To help you make this kind of thinking a lifestyle, here are 5 mindful shopping tips when buying dresses.

Do a Stock Take

Before you swim into the endless sea of discounts on NewChic and Modily, take time to see what you have in there and what you need. When I did this the first time, I found that I had about 24 summer dresses and very few work and event dresses. That is an indication that I tend to incline towards summer dresses and buy them mindlessly everywhere I go.

Doing this helped focus my attention to what exactly I needed to buy next and what to avoid in the next foreseeable future, no matter how many sales and discounts I came across.

Another benefit of doing a stock take is you get to see pieces that you could wear several ways or enhance with accessories, a new shoe or even jewelry. For example, you probably have a number of dresses you haven’t worn in ages because you have nothing to wear them with. After the stock take, I bought the right jacket for one and the right shoe and necklace for the other, and they became staples.

Before going shopping, you can use our styling tips to use more of what you may already have. These are a few articles from the top of my mind:

A woman writing what she likes in a dress

Write Down what You like in a Dress

While you are stock-taking, try to take note of the kind of dresses you like be it official, casual or couture. What colors make you happy and look good on you? What designs make you feel like a girl and bring out your best features? Just because something looks good online or a mannequin doesn’t mean you will like it on you. This simple step will also help you stop buying things under peer pressure.

In my quest, I found that I really like dresses with pockets. I’m not a fan of carrying handbags everywhere and having a place to put my hands when standing makes me happy. For you, maybe you do not like short dresses or frills or low necks, which means they will sit in your closet for years because you bought them for the wrong reasons.

Find out what you like and are comfortable with, and go with more of that.

Be Careful with Sales and Discounts

End-of-year sales and promotions like ‘Buy 5 Get 2 Free’ are there to help the seller clear their stock fast so they can bring in new products and trends. By falling for this trap, you end up buying the old items that are going out of trend and buying things you didn’t necessarily need in the first place. The rush of buying things on sale or highly discounted also leads you to pick the wrong size and designs you don’t like.

Before running towards that sale, ask yourself, would I have bought that dress if it was full price? If the answer is NO, walk away.

The only reason you should rush to a sale is if a dress you have really been wanting is now on sale. Even then, make sure you go with cash instead of credit card to avoid buying things you didn’t plan and ensure it’s the right size.

Think Quality, Not Quantity

The saddest part about fast fashion is that we are filling out closets with items that don’t even last a year. While this is good because it means you can have new clothes often, it’s bad for the environment and your wallet.

Next time you see cheap trendy maxi dresses with pockets and other unique features, stop and think about the impact on the globe. High-quality items made of natural, recyclable materials may be a tad more expensive, but they will last you a long while, still look good, and then be recycled at the end of their life. Also, when the day comes, and you don’t want the dress anymore, you can give it to someone else because it’s still in good condition.

Hold Off your Purchases

The final tip on mindful shopping is to hold off on purchasing that item for a day or two or more. When you see something you really want to buy, master the strength to walk away for now and promise to return for it another day. More often than not, you will not want it after a few days because it was a mindless desire. But if after a few days you still want it, go buy and enjoy your purchase.

Again, there’s an exception if you have wanted that particular dress for a long time and it’s finally available or on sale.

Have a budget

You must have heard the importance of having a budget, and when dress shopping, the rule is not an exception. Plan how much you want to spend and how many dresses to buy. This way, you don’t overspend or buy things on impulse, straining your budget in other areas. Even better, make a list and stick to it. Tick each item out of the list as you do with grocery shopping. This helps you stay on budget and removes the guilt that eats you up when you shop more than you should have.

I get it; shopping is fun, relaxing, and we need to keep up with the trends. There’s a reason so many people call it retail therapy. But when your closet is full of dresses you don’t wear and finding something to wear daily is still a problem, maybe it’s time to rethink the whole mindless shopping and put a bit more attention and purpose into what and where you are buying.

How Can You Do Mindful Shopping?

The secret to mindful shopping is thinking and planning before buying anything. Assess what you have versus need, and do your research on where to find good quality pieces

Does Mindful Shopping Mean Fewer Dresses?

Absolutely not. Mindful shopping is all about buying things you will wear and enjoy often and long term instead of pieces that stay in your closet for a year without being touched.

Lior Shapiro

I love clothes with pockets and dresses, and I think any woman can pull off a good maxi dress.
I believe women's clothes with pockets make the world a better place.