Measured Versus Spontaneous!

Hi Ladies,

I know we have probably talked about this before but it has really been evident to me recently that I (generally) make much better purchasing decisions when I am measured and thoughtful, than when I make an emotional/spontaneous decision.

Having developed a strong sense of my style and what works and what doesn't, I have found I have become very particular about purchases.  I will reject items based on seemingly insignificant elements (i.e things my friends wouldn't notice until I pointed it out) and will often walk away and consider the purchase overnight or for a few days or longer.  I have been doing this regardless of price but, having said that, I have also found that I am buying less and buying better quality so given my budget is quite modest, I look upon every addition as an investment.

Recently I had a couple of moments of sheer spontaneity where I just went with my emotional response (possibly despite my better judgement) and splashed out and bought a couple of things with gay abandon!!

Some weeks on, I am aware that they really weren't 'good' investments for me.  I like them but I don't LOVE them.  Kind of like meeting a gorgeous guy and then discovering there is no substance lol. 

My new long cardigan (#2) was one item.  I did take the sides in and taper it, and it looks fine, but I don't find myself looking forward to, and planning on when I will wear it.

Then there was the structured grey sleeveless jacket (#3).  Not quite sure what I was thinking.  I kept putting it on and taking it off.  Within days I knew it wasn't going to work so I was able to return it.

The other item is one I haven't shared yet. It's a fabulous draped knit sleeveless 'thingy", long at the front and short at the back, warm and snugly but in a darker grey than I like on myself.  I knew it in the store but I was totally seduced by the feel of the knit and the design.  I have worn it once and I don't think it's a total loss as it looks quite good when I pair it with white or soft pink but unlike so much of my wardrobe, this and the cardigan take work to style, and I realise I want much more ease when I dress.  I do enjoy thinking about putting outfits together and creating new combinations, but when it gets 'hard' and doesn't flow, it's just not fun.

So it's back to measured and thoughtful for me when it comes to shopping. I have had my eye on this Metalicus Tunic (#1) for a few weeks and short of trying it on I am pretty sure there is a place for this in my closet:)

Anyway just sharing my less than finer shopping moments:)  And wondering how you shop?  Has YLF changed the way you shop?  It has definitely changed my shopping habits as I used to be 100% impulsive whereas now I appear to have swung the other way completely.

xxx Deborah

This post is also published in the youlookfab forum. You can read and reply to it in either place. All replies will appear in both places.


  • Brooklyn replied 5 years ago

    Hi Deborah. I think you are being tough on yourself if nos 2 and 3 are your not-so-good purchases. No 2 looks great on you. And I like the vest too but I can certainly understand your dilemma (I am pondering a similar purchase myself!)

    I think YLF is definitely making me more careful and considered about purchases, especially sale purchases. I have a tendency to buy something I like just because it's on sale, without considering whether I really need it and how it fits in with the rest of my wardrobe. I think I am one of those people that Angie says has lots of items in their wardrobe that they love but that do not work together. So I am working on that. I am still somewhat impulsive - but returning more than I used too!

  • anne replied 5 years ago

    Interesting reading Deborah. I would say that in general, both before and after YLF, I've always been measured and thoughtful and much more inclined not to buy something rather than buy it. I do still make mistakes, but they tend to be brought about when I am tired and wanting to tick an item off my list for the season, and settle for less than ideal.

    That said, I've tried to move a little more in the impulsive direction and if I see something I really like, to try and buy it if I can afford it. Since my general tendency is not to buy, I treat myself a bit if I do love something and it isn't on my list. I am not sure this happens more than every couple of years.

    That grey sleeveless jacket is striking, but I can see how it would be difficult to make work.

  • Joy replied 5 years ago

    YLF has changed me from clueless to thinking about my wardrobe in terms of capsules and what I need. I also now think about how many items of a type I need for a season, trying not to overbuy but use what I have.

  • Adelfa replied 5 years ago

    I tend to be too restrictive in my planning, so spontaneous purchases add a lot. However sometimes they don't pan out. I put up with that because of the delight that many unplanned purchases bring me.

  • shevia replied 5 years ago

    Interesting question Deborah. Sometimes it is the spontaneous purchase that signals a style shift for me. On the other hand, some of my biggest workhouses are certainly the planned variety. I will think about this more. 

  • Deborah replied 5 years ago

    Thanks Brookly:)  The cardigan is definitely casual wear and will most likely become a comfy thing I thrown on at home:)  And the structure of the long sleeveless jacket made it uncomfortable for me:)  I know you are an Aussie, may I ask what state you are in?  You mentioned kangaroos in a post and I am in Regional Victoria where we see more of them than I want to lol

    Anne you sound like you have established a nice balance with your buying:)

    Joy that is great!  Being able to shop your closet is so good.  I have not had to worry for the past couple of  years about wedding guest attire as my closet totally facilitates most occasions now.

    Adelpha so true about the job of the successful unplanned purchase:)

    Shevia, I would love to hear more about what you think on this.  

  • abc replied 5 years ago

    It is great to see even seasoned professionals such as yourself still make mistakes. I know it isn't fun but this really helps me in my journey. I feel less guilt about the mistakes I've made recently. Thanks!

  • Deborah replied 5 years ago

    abc, you are most welcome lol.  And thanks for your kind words.  I think it's definitely the journey and the evolution of our style that makes it all so much fun.. mistakes and all.

  • approprio replied 5 years ago

    Interesting! I notice I rarely buy completely spontaneously these days. If I snap up an item on sight, it's usually something which has been on my internal shopping list for a while, so I know it will fill a niche in the wardrobe. If I see something I like which I hadn't considered, I'll almost always walk away and sleep on it. Like you, on the rare occasions when I don't follow this pattern, more often than not I end up with a problem child. That doesn't mean it's a complete mistake, just something that's a bit harder to style.

    The down side is that I've walked past many things that would have been perfect, only to miss out on them later. Mr Edge likes to joke about my "non-buyer's remorse", but I don't think it's very funny.

    Anyway, the Metallicus tunic looks like a winner for you. And I think you should hang on to the long cardi. It looks like something that will come into its own given time. 

  • viva replied 5 years ago

    Somewhere in the middle of the two works best for me. I rarely find things when I am looking for something specifically -- I am not a successful rational shopper. When I respond to something emotionally, it's actually a really good indicator for me that it could be a great purchase. However, I need to check that spontaneous reaction with some degree of rational thinking to be sure it makes sense. And sometimes that is where I fall down -- buying something purely on emotion without the rational doublecheck.

    I have bought more with the balanced view since joining YLF ... but I am still at risk of purely emotional buying when I am stressed. I am not sure how to completely let that go.

  • Olivegreen replied 5 years ago

    I find that with a closet that has 'enough' easily wearable and comfortable clothing, it is easy to be measured. No sense of urgency around getting something that you might need.
    Since I am queen of repeater items, I can say to myself " Do I already own something very like this? Do I wear it enough to get another? "
    And if the answer is no, I pass.
    I blame the capsule ideas I picked up here...not uncertain about what I have and how it works.
    That being said, I have a few items on the 'buy on sight list' that are not the least bit practical or needed, but I know will make me very happy...pirate boots come to mind.
    And you can not have enough interesting white shirts.

  • gryffin replied 5 years ago

    Deborah - I'm a planner too.  I've totally embraced buy less and buy better - so actually the wallet damage may be more!  That doesn't mean I don't make plenty of mistakes - item can tick all the boxes but then sometimes does not tick that all important love factor, so it's definitely a balance.  But you are so right best purchases are when you try it on and never want to take it off again.  I just wish it were easier to find those magic pieces.  I have not had luck with sleeveless jackets/vests in general either.  Since I run cold, honestly I want a jacket, less so a cardi.  I have one leather moto vest and I'm going to try and style it this summer.  I love it (a good thing) but I have not reached for it in the way I do my moto jacket.  BTW you look gorgeous in everything you buy, I really think this is the ne plus ultra of personal style - that it not only looks stellar, but that it feels and makes you feel wonderful.  Now that's the ultimate!

  • donnat replied 5 years ago

    I am one of those that shop for recreation. Thus, the closet with too many pieces. Yes, I can find something to wear for any occasion but, I never feel fabulous in any of it. My love for something only lasts til I get the next new piece. I am not very organized about it. I am mesmerized with closet posts, trying to get a grip on this.

  • crutcher replied 5 years ago

    Restrictive vs. spontaneous...subjective vs. objective...I think you have nailed the best of both in your purchases...You seem to have a handle on "what works" for you...I agree with your assessment of items 1,2,3...One is just perfect..or appears to be so in the picture...I can see how you made 2 more appealing with some tailoring and yes, to me, 3 is just out...
    My own shopping has become much more objective, reality based since YLF...I can spot something that works for my style almost a mile away...Does it always make "my heart sing"...not always but I am striving for that...
    The quote from Betty Halbreich (I'll Drink to That) where she says (and I am paraphrasing) when you try something on..your initial impression is the best one that the piece doesn't improve with different views really speaks to where I am with my current style growth...If I don't love it immediately, I let it go...Hope this

  • Janet replied 5 years ago

    I have had mixed success with planned and unplanned purchases. Sometimes I finally purchase something that I've been searching for, for a long time, because it ticks all the boxes and is the best of what I can find. Then, lo and behold, the more perfect item shows up. :-/ So my plans can get the better of me. Conversely, I've made some spontaneous purchases that ended up being brilliant workhorses -- even though they were not items on a shopping list, I later wondered how I ever functioned without them! ;-) So I don't plan on giving up the occasional spontaneous purchase. However, I am getting much better at returning things if I don't feel moved to wear them within a week or two of buying them.

  • tulle replied 5 years ago

    I certainly hear Angie's words in my head now when I shop!  It amuses me to find myself thinking, "hmm--wardrobe hole?" or calculating whether a piece I'm considering will work with 3 or 4 things already in my closet.  Definitely adds up to a leaner,  more flexible wardrobe than I've ever had before, and a prettier one--I actually find myself leaving my closet doors open because I like looking at my clothes!  It sounds as though you have arrived at the next level, having learned not only what to shop for, but how best to shop for it.

  • replied 5 years ago

    I don't think I've ever gone window shopping just to see what's out there (unless I'm with a friend who likes to window shop.) I always hit the pavement with a mind to buy a specific item, but I would say that most of the time this plan fails and I don't find what I'm looking for (unless it's jeans or tshirts). While I'm out there though,I occasionally find something else that'll fill a different wardrobe gap (so a similar shopping style to approprio). Those unexpected finds are sometimes hits, sometimes misses, with the ratio being about 70:30 , so not too bad.

  • Cococat replied 5 years ago

    I'm mostly spontaneous, which translates into an overflowing wardrobe. I do have some interesting things, but some I don't wear a lot (or at all!) because I haven't figured out what to wear them with. For example, I have a beautiful pucci silk skirt that I bought second hand, but I have no idea what would go with it languishes (sadly) in my wardrobe.

    I'm not sure if I could ever be a planned shopper. I've found that if I'm looking for something in particular, I can never seem to find it.

    Sometimes I will see something and fall in love with it, but walk away because I know I don't need it and it's not practical etc. Then I will almost obsess over it, and rush back to the store to buy it.

    I sound like I need an

    I was hoping to do some more experimentation with some of my
    favourite rarely worn things and post pics for opinions. I never seem to
    have enough time though....

  • replied 5 years ago

    When I started here on YLF a year ago, I got all sanctimonious with myself and was going to carefully plan and choose and buy carefully.  Did it work?  No.  For starters, what I wanted to own, wear and experiment with - be it anything in shoes, bags, coats, clothes - I could never find at retail.  The bloom fell off of that rose pretty quickly and I found myself back to my old ways, of just looking around, seeing what was out there, and buying things as Iiked them.  On the occasion where I am actually looking for something specific, sometimes I find it, most often not .  I think given the parameters I have set for myself (I'm not a fan of on-line shopping, really) nothing has or will really change. And now that I'm typing this, I see that in order to get the clothes I want, I may have to broaden my horizons.  Therein lies the dilemma.

  • torontogirl replied 5 years ago

    Deborah, another planner here! Generally speaking, I don't walk into any store without a list and a very focused purpose - to the point that I will make two trips to the store than try to do two jobs in one trip!

    That said, when I do make an impulse purchase, usually it's a dud or a short-lived fling, but sometimes it's just the thing I needed to try something new or shake things up, and it becomes a new favorite. So - providing I have the budget and I don't do it often, I am learning to embrace those impulsive moments as "rut prevention" and just a bit of fun, rather than being hard on myself over them :)

  • replied 5 years ago

    I just wanted to add that the disconnect between what I need for a capsule wardrobe vs. What's available locally is so large, that it makes the well-thought out capsule pretty much impossible for me. So I guess I'm with lisap where I'm at the stage where I think I might give up and just shop more for things I like. As in, grab them while I can. One thing I've learned in doing to capsule wardrobe for 2-3 years now is which shops I like. I'm thinking now that sticking to those shops should give me enough cohesiveness without having to go full-on with ultra-purposeful capsule wardrobing. This idea of sticking to a select few brands is probably obvious to all of you, but I guess I'm a bit of a dunce :).

  • karymk replied 5 years ago

    Deborah I swing wildly from measured and intentional to free-wheeling and come-what-may.  There's no rhyme or reason to what will become a hit or miss, so I keep all receipts and tags and pay close attention to return policies. 

    I do find that I favor the more expensive pieces, probably because I have thought long and hard about them instead of just bumping into them while window shopping.

  • Peri replied 5 years ago

    I dither over this a lot! Too many times I've bought something that "will be useful!" and it hasn't been. So that's a strike against measured. And some times I've bought something just because I loved it, and continued to love it, so that's a score for spontaneous. But it isn't always that way...I've found no perfect formula. But I have to helps me that everyone struggles with the same thing!

  • Lyn D. replied 5 years ago

    I like #1 and 2 Deborah!

    Big changes here since YLF.
    I used to buy whatever I liked, but now I know exactly how many items I already have and need in each category, and how often they have been worn.
    I now take notice of fabric and quality, because I know that I will actually need to wash and look after my pieces rather than only wear them a few times and pass them on.
    I still make the odd mistake, but making myself try-on items at home to see if they actually work with my wardrobe has saved me $ and frustration!

  • Suz replied 5 years ago

    What Peri said! :) 

    But YLF has definitely changed my shopping practices in all kinds of ways. 

    1. I shop a lot more often. (Or at least I did for my first few years here.)

    2. I don't necessarily buy more. Now that I have a basic working wardrobe, I probably buy less. 

    3. Even my "impulsive" purchases fit into an overall plan or vision. (Sort of what Approprio said.) 

    4. I shop online. (Never did that before YLF except for books when I could not get them locally.) 

    I do still make mistakes. A lot fewer, and most are of the sort that your sweater seems to be for you. The item ends up being useful in a way, if not ideal. Or, like your vest, I can take it back before it's too late. (Phew!) 

    I also identify with what Viva said, though. Typically, my heart has to leap at the thought of the item first or it won't be a great purchase for me. I mean, if it's socks or undies it will be fine. But unless I fall in love with it in the dressing room, it could end up being a very "sensible" mistake. 

  • DonnaF replied 5 years ago

    I find I often don't wear my planned, measured, and thoughtful items as much as I thought I would.  Of course, that has happened to many spontaneous purchases as well, but I am much, much more likely to return those spontaneous purchases if I decide I am not 100% enamored once I get home and test them with the rest of my wardrobe. 

    For example, I spontaneously bought the mint leather vest recently featured in Angie's Nordstrom Rack Roundup.  Well, actually I bought both the mint and rose options since I know I wear vests.  Didn't like the colors when they arrived.  When I returned the vests yesterday, a jeans jacket came home with me.  I never wear the jeans jacket that I spontaneously bought at a thrift store, partly (mostly?) because the sleeves fit snugly.  The new jacket gave me permission to hack off the sleeves on the old one,  and I am now wearing my *new* jeans vest.  I will have to meditate on whether I will wear my spontaneous Rack jacket with its looser sleeves.

    I am getting better, but I still have trouble at the outset differentiating between the short term infatuations and the long term relationships.  

  • Transcona Shannon replied 5 years ago

    Interesting post Deborah - I know for me, I shop less often overall but in more "spurts". I'm not sure why that is. I definitely don't settle for "good enough" any more. If I have questions or doubts about an item, out it goes.

  • Greyscale replied 5 years ago

    I have almost the opposite problem. If I set out to find, say, the perfect denim jacket, then I will spend weeks looking at every single jean jacket on the internet and in stores, fixate on something expensive, decide to buy it, and then realize I didn't actually need a denim jacket so much. 

    Then again, I have too many impulse buys (mostly from consignment stores) that I regret.

    Basically I'm bad at making shopping decisions!

  • shevia replied 5 years ago

    I actually did try to think about this and didn't get very far :-). I am going to fall back on something I believe I have said before - I am an intuitive shopper with an intuition very well fed and nourished with lots of back information.
    One example is my new found interest in platform shoes. Not long ago I had no interest whatsoever in platform shoes and found them almost a poison eye. Now I am into platforms (sprinkled in with mostly flats). What happened in between? Well I did notice a lot of platforms in the last fashion weeks, maybe I saw some looks that appealed to me, a little bit of questioning myself about why I reject certain conventional things (like heels), a bit of gearing up for my 50th year (I turn 49 this month), who knows. But when I recently found a few new platforms (second hand but new condition) I snapped them up. 

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