How to avoid buyer's remorse

In trying to research "avoid buyer's remorse," I stumbled across a slew of articles full of advice for salespeople to convince customers they won't regret a purchase. Here are three rules that are repeated over and over, created by Tom Hopkins, author of The Art of Selling (you can see where this is going): 

  1. Fear that the money spent on your product or service is gone (the fear of loss is stronger than the happiness of gaining the benefits of ownership).
  2. Receiving negative feedback from others when telling of the new purchase such as from friends or relatives.
  3. Logically analyzing the decision — when we all know that purchases are ultimately emotional decisions.

The rest of the posts go on to instruct salespeople to circumnavigate the buyer's hesitation.

That's kinda bullshit.

Look [leans into the table and holds palm upward to signify what I'm about to say is plainly obvious], I own an online store that thrives when our customers purchase our items. However, I don't want you to buy a dress you don't like and won't wear, because it defeats the purpose of ethical and sustainable fashion, creating more clothing waste. From a business point of view, returns are inconvenient for all parties involved. We're slowly chiseling away at the reasons a customer would return something before the purchase is made. If one of those reasons is you'll regret the purchase, it's our responsibility to help you realize it before you click checkout.

Here's how I, as a customer (not a store owner) avoid buyer's remorse: 

1. Don't trust your gut

Impulse buying created the depths of clutter in my house. Some time ago, I NEEDED a tiny rattan gift box that's too small to put things in.  Of course I'm not going to put the resin necklace with inlaid gold foil flecks inside of it, because that belongs inside the pocket of a quilted tote bag underneath my bed.

Buying things just to buy things is not only a waste of money, it's a waste of resources and drives companies to continue producing cheap, badly designed products. Once the company has the cash-in-hand, they don't care about what's actually useful and valuable to you. Your purchase becomes nothing more than a point on corporate graph of purchasing habits. 

2. Don't buy for a single event

Unless you're the bride or a bridesmaid living under draconian rule, don't buy a dress to attend one specific wedding. Don't buy an interview outfit for one interview, and absolutely don't buy a new dress for a first date.  Six years ago, I bought a pair of $290 knee-high leather boots for a first date, then immediately returned them when my potential suitor sent a passively misogynistic tweet. 

The only reason you need to buy something is there's a practical void in your wardrobe. This is where the #30wears rule applies. Buy something if you will wear it 30 times. Ethical fashion leans toward wardrobe staples that transcend seasons and fads; like the classic black t-shirt or little black dress. You don't need to err toward minimalism, but be mindful if a shirt is truly you, so you can get some mileage out of it.

If you do need a one-time outfit for a wedding, interview, or date, go to Rent the Runway.

 3. Don't buy something that doesn't fit

If you're a size 10 buy a size 10. If you're normally a size 10, but the instructions say the item runs small, buy a size 12. Vanity sizing is very much a thing, and the size itself doesn't matter. I could've changed all of our sizes to arbitrary words like lamp or ashtray and it'd be as meaningless as numeric sizes. 

4. Don't buy it if you're broke

Fast fashion's race to the bottom supplies cheap clothing en masse, convincing everyone that they can look like a Kardashian for $10. 

Fast fashion retailers work on a weekly trend cycle, selling their wares at rock-bottom prices so they can clear out their inventory every single week.  This convinces people they're rich, even if they're struggling to pay rent this month. Everyone -- at the time of purchase -- can afford a $7 skirt.  This strategy relies on the aforementioned impulse buy, and when you compound each cheap purchase over the course of a month, you'll login to your online banking and realize that could've been a load of microbrews on a night out.

5. Spend enough to make you sweat

This is the rule that always gets the most push back, but hear me out. 

In an effort to avoid impulse buys, cheap fashion, and ill-fitting, one-wear pieces, I decied to never spend less than $150 at the checkout. This usually means I buy something new twice per year. I'm at an advantage because, as you know, I own a clothing store and get "free" clothes, but I do pull out my wallet once in awhile to shop at Reformation, People Tree, or The Real Real. 

I chose $150 because that's A LOT of money to me -- it's 120 hours of work at our guesthouse in Cambodia. What's a lot of money to you? Is it $75? $50? $500?

Save money to anticipate a big purchase so it's not taken lightly. In addition, you'll take care of your clothing and it will last longer.