For An Ethical Chic Wardrobe, Ask Yourself These 3 Questions Before A Purchase

May 31, 2018
A version of this article previously appeared on Style Wise.

Recently on my Instagram Stories, I polled followers about a dress I’d been thinking of getting. One person sent me a direct message asking me if I ask myself any particular questions before making a purchase. I couldn’t quite read her tone–it could have been a critique or even a request for advice–but my answer was short and sweet: “Yes, of course!”

That got me thinking about the questions I ask myself. Because of course I make judgment calls before I purchase an item, but I’m not always very strategic about it. Sometimes the pull of want overwhelms the more rational side of my brain.

As much as I’d like to claim that I’m the perfect minimalist, laser-focused on sustainability, I like clothes, and it’s easy, especially as a thrift shop manager, to say “yes” to things without considering my current wardrobe.

So, inspired by that simple Instagram question and by Daria’s Wonder Wardrobe course, here are…

3 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Making a Purchase 

For An Ethical Chic Wardrobe, Ask Yourself These 3 Questions Before A Purchase

1. Will it serve a useful purpose in your wardrobe?

If I can’t answer yes to this question, there’s no point asking any others. It’s very tempting to collect clothing simply because I like the look and feel of particular pieces, but if I’m not going to wear it, if it doesn’t fit my lifestyle, or if it’s just too cumbersome to take care of, it’s simply not an item I need to add to my wardrobe.

2. Is it similar to something you already own?

I have a tendency to buy three (or 4 or 5) of things I like. Case in point: Everlane tees. But then I have 5 very similar t-shirts that are all appropriate for the same exact context, which means something isn’t going to get the attention it deserves. This is the question that stopped me in my tracks when it came to that dress I mentioned on Instagram. It resembled in color, style, and seasonality a dress I already own and love. They would have competed with each other, and that’s not useful.

3. Does it coordinate with most, if not all, of your current seasonal wardrobe?

I got this idea from Daria’s Wonder Wardrobe course. She suggests that one of the most important things to prioritize for a successful capsule is coordination, namely that all tops coordinate with all bottoms for endless outfit options. I’m not quite there–there are simply some pieces I can’t part with–but I agree that thinking in terms of color scheme will reduce the perceived need for a bigger wardrobe. My current color palette is blue, green, rust, and tan with some mustard and neutral stripes mixed in. So I probably shouldn’t add a purple skirt to the mix (not that I would anyway – I can’t stand the color purple).

For An Ethical Chic Wardrobe, Ask Yourself These 3 Questions Before A Purchase

See more ethical wardrobe tips on Style Wise

Do you ask yourself any questions before you purchase something? Let us know in the comments?

Also by Leah: Truth: You Don’t Have To Be Rich To Do Ethical Shopping. 7 Genius Ways I Save Money

Related: 6 Hacks For Building An Ethical Wardrobe Without Breaking The Bank

I Switched To Ethical Fashion & Found My Signature Style. Psst—You Can, Too


Photo: Nicole Honeywill on Unsplash

Leah is the founder of Style Wise, a space to celebrate, discuss, and discover fair trade and sustainable fashion. She lives in Central Virginia with her grad student husband and their super cute pet rats, Mercury and Pilumnus. Follow Leah on Instagram @stylewiseblog.


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