Five common shopping mistakes to avoid if you want better style

#1 Getting blinded by the brand

Buying based on brand without considering whether the actual piece would be just as amazing under a lesser-known label is one of the biggest mistakes that I've made in building my wardrobe. Building a brand that has the power to drive mindless purchasing decisions is the ultimate goal of any marketer, but we should have the opposite goal in mind as consumers. 

I purchased a pair of (second hand, but still expensive) Chanel flats that I ended up regretting for a couple of reasons, but mostly because they remind me of my susceptibility to brand names. There are so many other ballet flat options that are just as good in quality, but I bought mine for the logo rather than because they were remarkable and unique. That is fundamentally tacky and sort of hypocritical: tacky in that buying for logo means that I wanted them because I wanted to be associated with the fanciness of that brand, and hypocritical because I am not fancy and write an entire blog about making mindful purchasing decisions.

#2 Falling in love with the deal

Picking up things that I wouldn't be willing to buy if they cost me full retail price is one of the biggest traps I've fallen into, and this past year of cutting back has helped me to recognize this. Any item that we purchase should have a purpose in our wardrobes, yet I've spent so much money on items that aren't great, don't fit in, or are redundant with other things that I already own. It pained me to look at all of the waste I've generated by accumulating things that were a "really great deal" that I mindlessly picked up while shopping for sport. Going forward, I won't enter any retail establishment unless I have done an assessment of my wardrobe, considered the gaps, and made a list and budget.

#3 Not being honest about your lifestyle

My lifestyle is 80% travel, 10% recovering from travel, 5% casual social get-togethers, 2.5% dinner parties, and 2.5% fancy events. My wardrobe should be built with that lifestyle in mind, heavy on the versatile business professional pieces sprinkled with casual items and a select few dressy items to reserve for the 2.5% of my time spent at fancy events or black tie weddings.

I've recognized that the items that get me the most mileage are the ones that I can wear to work, or casually at home. My old habit of impulse-purchasing high heels, fancy skirts and beaded vintage blouses was not supporting my lifestyle needs, nor was my oddly large collection of Madewell chambray shirts.

#4 Forgetting that you have options for better quality and prices

Impulse purchasing a polyester-blend sweater from Topshop for $100 that will look worn and old after the second wash does not serve me or my wardrobe. Teaching myself to think about where I can get a similar style in cashmere or 100% wool (like on my favorite online retailer eBay...) has helped me build a better quality wardrobe overall. (And I've been tossing those cheap, overpriced items all year...)

#5 Losing sight of your purpose

We all have a purpose in our purchasing decisions, whether it is to push the boundaries on your style, fill gaps in your wardrobe, or become more mindful about what you're buying. This mistake is really hard to avoid, even when you're consciously trying to stay focused. Even though I publicly committed to a self-induced challenge to not buy anything for a year save for second-hand, I struggled with this one. And I write this guiltily thinking of those who have joined me (Ivanka...) and hope for your forgiveness.

While traveling for work in the spring, my black heel broke and I was without a substitute or the ability to find a suitable second-hand store. In pure desperation, I dragged my friend Ashley (who is conveniently also a 9.5 shoe size) to Nordstrom, forced her to buy a pair of black heels on her own credit card, wear them for a day, then sell them back to me for $5 less. It was a low moment, and I am ashamed for letting myself get off on a technicality. However, it was a true test of friendship as there are not many people who would accept such outrageous demands. (Thanks, Ash!)

And, I took a lot of liberty with my birthday gifts, all attributed to my husband Wes and his incredible taste in women's clothing and full support of my style choices...

Ok, that's all I have! I'm sure there are many other shopping mistakes that we make, would love to hear your thoughts on any that you've observed in your closets!