A placeholder is an almost perfect purchase that you will wear until a better version comes along. While a perfect item is first prize, there are situations when an almost perfect purchase is the right way to go. For example, you might be under time pressure so you compromised to satisfy an urgent need.

That said, some of our forum members have set goals to stop purchasing placeholder items because they’ve accumulated too many of them. This resulted in a wardrobe that fell short of their expectations, as well as the guilt associated with wasting money. This brings me to how I guide my clients on whether to commit or pass on a placeholder, so that they don’t amass a collection of items that are headed for the donation pile way before their time.

Commit if you can alter

If you can do alterations to create the perfect item, purchase it and get cracking with the alterations. If you’re unsure, purchase the item, take it to a tailor and hear their suggestions. If you can successfully dye the item, or repurpose and upcycle it in a brilliantly creative way, then commit to the purchase.

Commit to hard-to-find and hard-to-fit items

Some items are extremely hard to fit and find, so we tend to compromise by wearing less than perfect versions. I’m inclined to say commit to this almost perfect purchase because it might be as good as it gets. This was true when I was shopping for very comfy white sandals in a very narrow fit. They had to stay on my feet, go the distance, and look reasonably okay. I had exactly two options available to me after years of searching, so I bought them. Aesthetically they were a bit of a compromise, but they did the job in extremely hot and humid weather and I was grateful to have happy feet.

Pass if it isn’t urgent

If the item does not satisfy an urgent need, hold out for something better. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been waiting to fill a wardrobe hole, or replace an item that bit the dust. If you can make do with what you have, wait until something better comes along. That way you’ll reduce the quantity of less-than-perfect items in your wardrobe.

Don’t fall into the trap of committing to an almost perfect purchase that cannot be altered because it was on sale, inexpensive, hard to return, or you simply want to tick it off your shopping list. Something better will come your way.

Over to you. When do you commit or pass on placeholder items?