While the days of buying an entirely new wardrobe every season have long gone by the wayside (remember I Love Lucy when Lucy and Ethel would go shopping for a new wardrobe every season?), I want to suggest that when you shop for clothing you shop with a wardrobe mentality, not a clothing mentality.

Let me explain. Imagine you were buying appliances, pots, pans, and utensils for your new kitchen. You would go in and think clearly about your needs before you’d go to the store. You wouldn’t go in and buy 14 skillets, 16 blenders, no saucepans, 40 spatulas, and two spoons, for example. You would go in with a clear sense of what you need to make your kitchen complete; there would be a plan and you’d make sensible choices based on your cooking needs.

As obvious as this sounds, this logic never seems to apply to shopping for clothing. Few women shop with any type of a plan with their needs clearly in mind. This is why when you look into the closets of most women you see things like too many pairs of black pants, shoes that never get worn, tags still on clothing, and not enough of what they actually need. There is no plan.

Women get themselves into the conundrum for a variety of reasons. The first reason is when a woman shops as a form of therapy or because she is impulsive. Unlike shopping for kitchen appliances, clothing for many women isn’t about filling needs as much as it is a stress reliever. The second reason this happens is when a woman doesn’t know what to do, how to shop, what her needs really are or because she is unsure about how to dress herself. As a result, the closet becomes a bunch of mistakes, safe purchases, and just random buys. The intention is there but the execution isn’t.

This is why I want you to start thinking about shopping with a wardrobe mentality. A wardrobe is a cohesive grouping of clothing that actually works together. When you add a new clothing item you need to consider whether it works with what you already own. Just like you wouldn’t purchase another frying pan if you already had what you needed, there is no reason to load up on clothing items that are well covered in your wardrobe.

There is always the chance that there are no options in your existing wardrobe that will work with what you want to buy. When you find yourself in this situation, don’t buy the item and just make a mental note to eventually find coordinating pieces. Instead, look for something in the store to wear with it or actually write the needs down on a list, one that you will actually reference. All too often, a straggler orphan will get thrown in the closet, never to be seen again. Don’t toss it in the closet and lie to yourself that you’ll eventually get around to it. You never will.

Lastly, think more thoroughly about your wardrobe and actually take the time to work new pieces into your closet. If you’re not new to my blog, you know that clients actually book outfit sessions with me that can take two to three hours to complete. The importance of these sessions is to ensure that all the new pieces get incorporated in and that they can learn how to get the maximum use out of what they spend money on. As busy as you are, when you buy new items, set aside at least an hour to come up with a few ways to wear a new piece with what you already own. It will be time well spent; not only will you maximize the new and the old but you will able to review your existing wardrobe more frequently. One of the quickest ways a wardrobe gets stale is when it isn’t culled through on a regular basis.

Remember, just like everything else you stock up on, your clothing is no exception. The best way to be in control of your closet is to manage it with a wardrobe management mentality.