Does buying so many clothes make you feel better?

Red and white knitted jumper laid out on display table

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Do you know why you buy new clothes so often? Does buying so many clothes make you feel better? Is part of the fun searching for that perfect dress or pair of jeans? But how often do you feel disappointed when you try them on at home?

Sadly, for most people that’s quite often. And so masses of barely used items languish in wardrobes. How many times have you thrown out an item of clothing after hardly wearing it?

And do you realise that if you send back something you’ve bought on-line, it will probably end up in land-fill?

So much waste!

This is a terrible waste of money and resources. How can we say we’re worried about the planet, and yet throw away so much?

The barely used clothes thrown out in one year in one city would fill a reservoir. And this happens in thousands of cities, year in and year out.

The level of clothing waste is astounding.

The problems with synthetics

Unfortunately synthetic garments won’t break down for hundreds of years. When burnt, they give off poisonous gases. 

Moreover, tiny fibres that are released when we wash synthetics are filling the seas and rivers. As yet, we don’t know the health risks of drinking water containing these fibres.

What about on a personal level?

Overspending on clothes causes plenty of problems on a personal level. Usually these problems involve money, relationship and our emotions.

Firstly, there’s the expense of continually buying new clothes. Lots of people hide what they’re spending from their partner or family.

Then there’s the disappointment and wasted time and effort of buying the wrong items. Not to mention the embarrassment caused by the clutter in your cupboards.

There’s also the feeling that you’re not living up to your values by being so wasteful.

So does buying so many clothes really make you feel better after all?

What can we do?

It’s clear this is a widespread problem that’s worth solving. If you’d like to get on top of your clothes-buying habit, read on.

Why keep buying so many clothes?

Firstly, try to think what makes you keep buying so many clothes. Everyone has their own special set of reasons.

See if any of the following apply to you.

1 You buy clothes to improve mood

If you feel down, frustrated, bored or empty, shopping can make you feel better in the moment. This may make you particularly prone to impulse buying, as it gets rid of negative emotions. But as soon as you get home, your worries and concerns pop up again.

2 You don’t like your body

You use clothes to disguise what you perceive are faults in your body shape. But constant body changes mean you always need yet another outfit. So you’re still dissatisfied.

3 Lack of confidence in yourself

Sometimes you’re unsure of yourself, and perceive others are critical of your appearance. Perhaps you want to feel accepted or approved of by others in general. And you’re embarrassed to wear the same clothes to different events. 

So you embark on a search for the perfect clothes for every situation. Unfortunately you’re probably on an expensive and unrewarding quest.

4 Wanting to fit in with your social circle

Everyone wants to feel they belong to a group. Part of this is wearing clothes that match the “look” and feel of the group.

However, some people feel this pressure to conform more than others. They then feel compelled to buy more of a certain type of clothing to fit in.

5 Fear of missing out

With so much advertising online and in the media, there are always new clothes available. Perhaps you read fashion mags non-stop, and search constantly online for the latest looks.

Or you keep an eye out for highly publicised fashion sales. You can’t bear to think you’re missing out on a bargain, or the latest fashions. 

So even if you don’t need another shirt, you hightail it to the mall. And the easy availability of shopping online is just too hard to resist.

6 You deserve to indulge yourself

It’s great to have healthy self-esteem and to give yourself a treat sometimes. But this sense of deservingness can get out of hand if driven by unpleasant emotions.

You may constantly buy clothes to reward yourself after a difficult day. Perhaps you’re envious that others have things you don’t have. Or perhaps you believe you should have whatever you want.

For any or all of these reasons, your wardrobe is probably bigger than it needs to be!

And does buying so many clothes really make you feel better anyway?

7 You don’t know what suits you

You’re not sure what styles or colours suit you. Whatever you buy seems wrong – wrong colour, style, shape, length, size.

Maybe you’re easily swayed by bad advice from friends or shop assistants. Then you end up with a cupboard full of things you never wear.

8 You settle for third-rate

You really want to buy something. However you can’t find what you really want. So you settle for something that deep down you know isn’t right. Or you buy the latest trends even if they look horrendous on you.

Because you don’t want to go home empty-handed, you squash your misgivings.

9 You buy mismatched items

You can’t remember the colour or style of clothes you have already. So you buy the wrong thing, and are disappointed as soon as you get home. Then you still need something to suit what you’ve got already.

And before you know it, you’ve got a collection of pieces that don’t match.

10 You’re a real fashionista

You live for fashion. It dominates every waking moment. You’re serious about your commitment to fashion, and see it as an art form.

All your friends envy your genius at putting outfits together. You may work in the fashion industry, and feel the pressure to look great.

But now your wardrobe has ballooned out of control.

11 You avoid hassling with returns

You don’t like to return clothes that are the wrong style or fit. You’d rather avoid the potential embarrassment or hassle. So you sling the offending items in the cupboard and forget about them.

12 You’ve never really thought about it

You weren’t aware of the link between clothes waste and environmental damage. But now you’ve read a little more, you’d like to change your habits.

Where do you start?

Firstly, work out if buying so many clothes really makes you feel better. If not, then it’s time to rethink what you’re doing. 

Read this article to reduce the number of clothes you buy. At the same time, you’ll help the environment by producing less waste.

And also make sure you watch Craig Reucassel’s War on Waste programs on Australian ABC TV.

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