To Buy Or Not to Buy: 10 Things to Consider When Clothes Shopping

January 1, 2020

To buy or not to buy: that is the question.

In the last few years, there has been a big global push for sustainability in the fashion industry. Thanks to numerous TV documentaries and the rise of international initiatives, individuals are becoming increasingly aware of their consumption habits and how they might affect other people and the planet.

And in 2020, this growing issue has never felt more relevant.

After all, did you know that consumers in the UK alone have unworn clothes in their wardrobe that are worth approximately £35.5 billion?

(Yes, I said BILLION!)

Good news, though – if you want to contribute to change, you can. All you have to do is ask yourself these 10 questions the next time you’re shopping for your next piece of clothing, shoe, handbag or accessory.

To Buy Or Not to Buy

1. Do I Really Want It?

Firstly, are you sure that you want the item in question? Or are you shopping just because you’re chasing the love of the new?

Often, our brains become overwhelmed with the amount of things that retailers are trying to sell us on a daily basis. Every time we check our emails, scroll down our social media feeds or walk around our local town, we’re constantly being bombarded with messages that we NEED that new top or our lives won’t be the same if we don’t buy that new handbag.

Tune out the nagging voices that are trying to tell you otherwise and ask yourself if you even want the item? Or will you just forget about it as soon as you buy it (like a lot of us have been guilty of doing in the past – oops)?

2. Do I Need It?

For that matter, do you even need the item? 

Analyse if it’s a necessity or whether it can wait a few months (or maybe forever).

3. Do I Already Own Something Similar?

I don’t know about you, but there have been times in the past where I’ve fallen in love with a piece of clothing on the spot and bought it, only to get home and realise I have the EXACT SAME THING already hanging in my wardrobe.


Learn from my mistakes and make sure you check, double-check and triple-check that you can’t make do with what you’ve got before you buy something new.

Trust me, you won’t regret it.

4. Can I Afford It?

One of the top questions to ask yourself when you’re pondering over to buy or not to buy is can you even afford it right now?

Have you shopped around? Are there better deals elsewhere or a big sale coming up that you can wait for?

Don’t be like Katie circa 2009 who chose clothes over her weekly food shop. It’s not big and it certainly isn’t clever.

To Buy Or Not to Buy

5. Is It Worth It?

Speaking of affordability, is the item going to be worth the amount you’ll pay for it? 

How often will you wear it, for instance? Needless to say, if it’s just for one event and that’s it, you might want to consider utilising something that’s already in your wardrobe.

6. Can I Borrow It?

If you don’t want to settle for an existing piece that you own (hey, we all grow tired of what’s in our wardrobe sometimes), ask yourself if it’s possible to BORROW a similar version of the item you’re lusting after.

Whether it’s from a friend or family member, it will save you a few quid AND help the environment in the process. 

That’s what I call a win-win situation.

7. Can I Buy Something Similar from a Charity Shop?

To buy or not to buy: well, how about still buying something similar but finding alternative, more sustainable sources to purchase from? Like, a charity or vintage shop, for example.

You’d be amazed at the amount of choice on offer at second-hand stores. 

Plus, you can find some really good, high-quality pieces at bargain prices!

8. Can I Find Something Similar on eBay or Depop?

Speaking of second-hand bargains, have you checked eBay or Depop to see if you can find something similar for less?

By doing this, you’re encouraging less unnecessary waste. 

You could even sell your old clothes on eBay if you fancy making an extra couple of hundred pounds every month. Kerching.

9. Does a Friend or Family Member Have Something Similar That They Don’t Want?

To buy or not to buy when your friend or family member might have something similar that they were about to discard? I’m thinking: don’t buy it.

After all, their version of the item might be even better than the one you’re tempted to purchase brand new.

10. Is This an Impulse Decision?

Finally, sometimes we don’t want to buy a new item at all. We just see it when we’re not expecting to and we’re like: ooh, maybe that would look good on my Instagram or I could wear that for Donna’s birthday party on Friday.

Then we end up buying it, only to look back on our decision a day or two later and think: well, that was a waste of money. I don’t really care about that item at all. I was just so “in the moment.”

My suggestion? Maybe wait a little while when you see something you might want and see if you still want it a week or two later. The chances are that you won’t – and you’ll be thankful that you never bought it in the first place.

True story.

To Buy Or Not to Buy Clothes

Changing Your Consumption Habits in 2020

On the cusp of a new year, and a new decade (!), the sustainable fashion movement has never felt more significant.

Even though it can be difficult to change your buying habits when it feels like they’re instilled in your very being, it IS possible as long as you keep trying.

By choosing to consume and own less, you’ll reduce waste, help the planet and everybody in it. And what’s more important than that going forwards?

Are you often in a war with yourself in terms of whether to buy or not to buy? Will these 10 questions help you in the future? Let me know in the comments!

Katie Davies is the Yorkshire-based freelance writer who founded The Trendy Tourist. In the last three years, she has written for over 100 companies on a range of subjects, from fashion to marketing. When she’s not producing content, you can find her shopping, exploring a new place or sitting somewhere having a cup of builder’s tea.

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