How to Stop Impulse Shopping

The facts are simple: we cannot afford to continue consuming clothing at the same pace and in the same way. Our planet cannot cope with this wasteful industry any longer. If we want to be more sustainable we need to change our habits towards shopping.

We need to get out of the mindset that shopping is a ‘fun’ pastime. I remember my teenage years, trawling around the shops on a Saturday afternoon with a tiny amount of pocket money, buying cheap polyester tops and colourful nail varnish that I didn’t need. Then older, working in the fashion industry, constantly bombarded with the latest trends and an office full of stylish people. I’d nip into town on a whim or spend my evenings scrolling through the latest ASOS arrivals in search of a garment that would give me a quick high when it arrived on my doorstep. Shopping in this way, as a hobby, for years and years left me with a wasteful wardrobe full of garments that I didn’t actually like wearing.

It’s OK to like clothes. I still love following my favourite brands on social media, pouring over their latest collections and making mental wish-lists. I have Pinterest boards dedicated to style and take pride in curating a wardrobe full of beautiful garments. The big difference is the frequency of the things that I buy: rather than purchasing numerous cheap fast-fashion garments on a whim, I save up for one or two more expensive pieces that I will love forever.

Its no secret that sustainable and ethical clothing brands usually carry a hefty price tag. There are many reasons for this (they pay their workers fairly, they use organic materials, they tend to be small businesses, they have small or made-to-order production runs) but ultimately price makes the difference in how much and how often you buy. With brands I love like Nadinoo, Olive Clothing, Kid Philosophy or Off On, I will save up and purchase an item that I have thought long and hard about. It will be an item that I feel like I am missing from my current wardrobe and that I know I’ll get lots of wear out of. I wouldn’t greedily snatch up 5 dresses on a whim, because the cost forces me to think more about my decision.

Yes, these brands are more expensive than the high street but that is how you get out of your impulse shopping habit. You invest in high quality, ethically-made garments that will last for a long time. Garments that will make you feel happy when you wear them - because they feel comfortable and stylish, but also because you know you have purchased them from a brand with ethical and sustainable values.

If you are put off by the pricing of sustainable brands, think about it this way. In the long run, shopping with the philosophy of quality over quantity should save you money. You may be spending more on individual items but you are ultimately buying less, buying well and buying garments that are made to last. You shouldn’t have to replace your shoes every year if you’re buying a high quality pair. You will find, over time, that your wardrobe becomes full of garments that you love to wear. Garments that you feel comfortable in, that suit you, that you can wear for any occasion. A made-to-order dress will always make you feel better than a fast fashion option in a generic size.

My Top Tips for Quitting Impulse Shopping

Make a budget and stick to it. Allow yourself a budget per season for investing in new garments or replacing essentials such as coats and shoes. Don’t allow yourself to go over your budget, even if you fall in love with something.

Place garments in shopping baskets for 24 hours prior to making a purchase. Rather than making a snap decision, take 24 hours to really think about if you need that item and if you really love it. If you are still thinking about how much you want it 24 hours later, allow yourself to make the purchase.

Make a list of garments you need and don’t deviate from the list. You could also make a list of items you definitely don’t need (such as another black dress or pair of trainers) to stop yourself buying things that you won’t get the wear out of.

Send it to a friend that you trust and ask their honest opinion. Just because you’ve fallen in love with a garment doesn’t mean it will suit you. If your friend gives it the thumbs down, try looking at it from their perspective.

Pay attention to how ethical and sustainable a brand is, refusing to make purchases from fast-fashion brands with dubious ethics and sustainability practices. If you fall in love with a garment on the high street, ask yourself how, where and by whom that garment was made.

Only buy garments that you know will stand the test of time. Before you make the purchase, ask yourself if you will still love and wear the garment in a few years time. Stay clear from trend-led pieces and invest in staples that fit in effortlessly with the rest of your wardrobe.

Full disclosure: The dress I am wearing in these photos was gifted to me by Kid Philosophy. I was under no obligation to write this blog post and all words and images are my own.