Shop smart: Impulse buy, or a must-have?

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I think I have found the one bad thing about shopping: being a guilty shopper. If you consider yourself a style addict or a shopaholic, this problem just about doubles. I experienced that heart-wrenching feeling far too many times, when I find the perfect piece of clothing, only to look at the price tag and have to sit down because my legs turn to Jell-O. And sometimes the feeling gets worse. If I love the item to the point where, even after a painful glance at the price, I still want it, then I am in trouble.
Conventionally, after that point, I start to talk myself into buying it, thinking of all of the pros about the piece. And so I begin to reason: the piece of clothing is of fabulous quality; fits me just right; I will wear it so much that the cost-per-wear will be extremely low; it will be “in” all the time; it already goes with accessories and other articles of other clothing I have; and I do not have anything like it. Oh my gosh, this is an once-in-a-lifetime chance.
Then I have to stop myself. Wait a minute. I just made a list of good qualities this piece of clothing has that make me want to buy it, so how about I check this list out and make sure all of this blabbering actually makes sense.
Okay, so the article of clothing is of fabulous quality and it fits right. However, if it is rayon, it will shrink when it is washed. If the fabric is itchy, I most likely will not be comfortable in it, and I don’t want a rash!
Remember these points when you’ve convinced yourself that you can’t live without an article of clothing. Always try a piece of clothing on. Sit in it, bend over in it, walk in it, run in it and do whatever else it takes to make sure that it meets your standards. Just be sure not to rip it. Also, be careful with clingy fabric because it tends to show off any uncomely parts of the body, like chubby bits.
The part that always gets me is the piece of clothing’s CPW, or cost-per-wear. Count how many times you think you will wear the article of clothing for the next 12 months and divide that into the price of the piece of clothing, with the tax added. You will come up with the cost that you technically pay every time you wear the piece of clothing. The results might seem like a better deal, or a worse one.
Next, make sure it is timeless clothing. You should always look good in it, which means that you do not have to worry about it not being “in” at any time in its life cycle. Also, you should be able to wear it with other pieces of clothing that you already have in your wardrobe. Do not buy anything else to go with it if it already breaks the bank. If you have something similar to it, don’t buy it. You do not need two of the same thing in your closet.
Go through this list and make sure the piece of clothing meets or exceeds expectations, otherwise it’s a no-go. If you are frantically searching for a way to find the money to pay for it, do not buy it.

--Alexandra Hehlen