Shop Your Closet (or “SYC”) is a recurring theme on the YLF forum. It’s when you put yourself on a temporary shopping ban and restrict yourself to your own closet, thereby resisting the temptation to buy anything new. Some of our forum members are on SYC for months at a time and their reflections during this period are varied and interesting. 

Forum member ironkurtin recently shared some thoughts that inspired me to write this post. As much as she loves to shop, ironkurtin thought the advantages of SYC definitely went beyond the financial impact:

“So, shopping my closet – and it’s only been a week!!! – has taught me these three important things.

  1. You can’t identify wardrobe holes – functional ones – unless you are forced to use what you have. This sounds counterintuitive but if you are looking for the next cute thing, as opposed to the next useful thing, you can get lost in the whirl.
  2. You don’t know what you own until you are forced to use it. I can’t tell you how many times I looked at something and was like ‘Oh, I forgot I owned this!’
  3. You don’t know what you don’t wear until you are forced to use it. Or realize you really don’t want to use it!

I am not loving shopping my closet, but I think it will be good for me. It may even force me to – gasp – buy fewer better things! And to get rid of stuff, because frankly, anything I forgot I owned will be better off out of my closet” .

SYC inspires discipline, analysis and creativity. This is why I sometimes suggest a temporary shopping ban to some of my own clients. This is usually at the end of a large seasonal shop. I urge them to road test their existing seasonal looks for a while, perhaps for a month or longer, in order to accurately identify favourite outfit formulas, least favourite items and wardrobe holes. That way they will hone their style persona, effectively build on their existing wardrobe capsules, duplicate the right items, and pass on the stuff that no longer works for the current leg of their style journey.

The financial impact of SYC is greater than just the money you’re not spending. You are forced to wear more items in your existing closet, reducing their cost per wear. Who knows. You might even bust out a wardrobe orphan or two. You’ll probably also wear items in new combinations to keep your style feeling fresh. How’s that for getting the biggest bang for your fashion buck.  

SYC does not work for everyone and we’ve had forum members express those frustrations too. Instead they prefer the more consistent discipline of “Shop Your Budget” (SYB) because it’s less restrictive, allowing them to nab bargains and hard to find sizes as they come up. A steady, controlled stream of new inventory into their wardrobe also keeps things fun, whether it was all about the hunt, or the thrill of bringing home a new piece that pulled at your heart strings. 

Have you ever put yourself on a temporary shopping ban, thereby forcing yourself to shop your closet for a period of time. If so, how did it go? Were you frustrated or elated? What did you learn during the process? Would you recommend SYC to others, and go through the process again? Or is SYB a better way to keep the spending in check and the style juices flowing.