Wardrobe that Works: The Rule of 20

I love clothes. On a good day you’re wearing a work of art. On a bad day they’re still keeping you warm and preventing you from being arrested for public nudity (apart from that one time when…oh, let’s not go there).

 Penny Golightly Wardrobe That Works Rule of 20 twenty

Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, like many people, I like to have a little fashion moment from time to time. I also try to only buy items that I truly love and will genuinely get the most out of, because wardrobe waste is an opportunity-cost: money that could have been better spent, saved or invested elsewhere.

Whether it’s making lots of small, cheap mistakes, or one big expensive mistake, waste is waste at the end of the day. Selling second hand after the event is all very well and good, but usually you’ll be lucky to get back a third of what’s originally been spent. Better not to make those mistakes in the first place, if at all possible.

That’s why this year I’m applying The Rule of Twenty to everything I buy, whether it’s clothes, shoes or accessories. It’s highly effective way of curbing impulse spending, fantasy shopping and panic buying. When I say ‘fantasy shopping’ I mean buying things for a lifestyle you wish you had, but you’re kidding yourself about (I haven’t bought a ballgown in aaaaaages, so my new rule is totally working).

How does it work?

It’s brutally simple. When you’re seriously considering making a purchase, ask yourself this:

Am I going to use this item at least twenty times?

That could be twenty times before you go off it, twenty times before it goes out of fashion, or even twenty times before it falls apart.

Yes, it sometimes means saying ‘no’ to yourself, but unless you have the mentality of a spoilt three-year-old then you can handle it quite easily. All you have to do is remind yourself that saying ‘no’ to something that’s nice but unsuitable creates space for something much better that could turn up in the near future.

Just like dating, then.

You can still buy things that are fun, and that you love – you might love them all the more after having a good think about it.

How do you stop yourself from making unfortunate impulse purchases? Give us your tips please.

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  1. I usually take pictures of desired items on my phone. Then I can look at it and ponder on it for a while. I often find that having it to look at every so often is enough and I don’t need to own it.

  2. Hi Tina – that’s a really nice idea. Gives you time to think, so you don’t make any impulse purchases that don’t work.

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