We purchase items for an imaginary lifestyle. We purchase items for an imaginary climate. We purchase items so far out of our comfort zone that we never get used to wearing them. We are attracted to a style or trend, go for it, only to find out that it’s not for us after we’ve road tested the look. We thought we looked fab in a colour, when on second thought it’s unflattering. We thought we looked fab in a particular silhouette when on second thought, what were we thinking!? 

Does any of this sound familiar? 

Despite an informed decision making process, purchasing mistakes are inevitable because shopping for fashion is not an exact science. No-one is immune. Fashion stylists, image consultants, style bloggers, retail buyers and magazine editors make purchasing mistakes just like everyone else. 

I’ve purchased my fair share of items that haven’t worked out. These fun two toned Dr. Martens are currently orphaned because the heels are just too high. I thought they would work because the footbeds are cushioning, the leather soft, and the platform decreases the arch of the foot. I’ve been wearing flat Docs for decades and my feet love them! So I had high hopes that the heeled variety would follow suit. Not a chance. The balls of my feet hurt after about an hour and now these darlings are sitting shoes. Lesson learned and note to self: no matter how comfy they are in store, DO NOT purchase heels that are higher than two inches if you plan to walk in them for longer than an hour.

I have finally gotten my head around NOT purchasing for our imaginary Seattle Summer. After living here for nine years, this is the first year that I did not purchase sleeveless items. That’s how long it took for the penny to drop. In this climate I run too cold to wear sleeveless items sans layers, which is my preference. Every time we have hot weather, which lasts no longer than two weeks, I think, well, maybe just a few more sleeveless tops because I love wearing them. This year I resisted the urge and it was the right thing to do. Eight years of learning paid off. 

I’ve also learned that I enjoy my better-end purchases very, very much. I have a thing for luxurious fabrication and impeccable craftsmanship and will pay a premium for it. I really look after the items I call “my good stuff”, wear them for years, and never tire of them. As hard as it is to save up for one expensive item when I could buy twelve different things for the same price, this is the shopping route that I like to follow most of the time. Of course, I still indulge in less well made fast fashion because that’s fun too. And because I enjoy the mixture of wearing high and low end items in one outfit. But staying disciplined in this regard has not been easy. To this day I walk into Zara wanting to buy most of what’s on the shop floor, knowing all too well that many of the items just won’t meet my quality bar. Second note to self: show more self restraint at Zara. 

Minimizing purchasing mistakes is the best that we can hope for. In the meantime, make peace with the items that haven’t worked out by passing them on to a loving home. Learn from your mistakes and try not to make the same ones again. 

Care to share a few of your purchasing mistakes and the lessons you learned from making them?