Now that the holidays are over, the stores are full of markdowns and sales.  Basically, they are begging you to take their old merchandise off their hands so they can make room for spring.  And who doesn’t like to add a a good sale item, or two (or three or four) to their wardrobe?

Before you hit the stores and act like a kid in a candy store, I want to give you some words of wisdom because it can often take a lot of self-control to pass up on something when the price is too good to be true.   Getting something on sale does not mean you are getting a great value.

How to Create a Wardrobe You Value

Don’t get me wrong, I am not disparaging anyone from getting a good price on anything.  I often get so excited when I walk away from a sale I text my mom, the best bargain shopper in the world, simply because I need to share the news and I know she will appreciate it.  However, a cheap price tag isn’t enough to determine if something is worth buying, unfortunately.  Value isn’t determined by price, it’s determined by use and need.

Let me give you an analogy to explain this further.

You’re going on vacation and want a book for the beach.  You pick up a trashy novel for a few dollars that is light and easy to read.  You don’t care if you take it back home with you and  whether or not it is the best book you will read in your lifetime makes little difference.  Compare this to a book you buy that is more than double the price of the cheap, trashy novel, will teach you a skill that will better your life, help you earn more money or will teach you invaluable lessons.  While both of these books are made of bound paper with words written on the pages, the book that provides the more value is worth a whole lot more.  The value isn’t found in the book itself or the price, it’s found in it’s use to you.  Sure, the trashy novel has its place but it’s doubtful you want an entire bookshelf full of books like this.

This could be said for clothing, or just about anything, really.   If your wardrobe has become bloated with cheap buys, items that you care little about, pieces that were only bought because they were on sale, your experience with your wardrobe is going to be reflected by this, as is your relationship to it.  You likely won’t value it, will have little appreciation for any of it and will probably feel less than great about wearing it.  It hardly seems worth the cheap price tag when you think about it this way.

However, I want to stress, again, this isn’t about keeping you from buying clothing on sale, from staying away from thrift stores, inexpensive purchases or to push you towards shopping beyond your means, I just want you to think beyond  the price tag.

Here are five ways to know you are getting value from the clothing you add to your wardrobe

You would buy it even if it wasn’t on sale

Last fall, I bought this navy blazer on sale.  With the amount of times I have worn it during this very mild autumn and winter, it could quite literally be the best thing I bought all season.  I think I paid $91 for it during a friends and family sale, but I’d buy it again in a heartbeat even if it wasn’t on sale and, given the value I have already gotten from it, I’d probably pay even more.  The sale was a nice incentive to purchase this piece, and it’s nice to know that I got such a great deal for it, but, really, the value I feel for the blazer didn’t come from the price tag, it came from it’s use value in my life.

The wardrobe item pays for itself

We all know the cost-per-wear equation, where you take the cost of an item and then divide it by the amount of times you wear it to find its true value.  Think about the things in your closet that you have gotten so much more wear from that, at this point, the item has more than paid for itself for being there.  Look at the space in your closet as real estate.  Have the pieces in there earned the right to occupy space or are they taking up room and giving you nothing back in return?  There isn’t any value in anything cheap that only causes clutter and confusion.

A wardrobe item evokes feelings of guilt

We have all been guilty of this one, right?  You bring something home, thinking it will be the end-all-be-all of life only to find that it just hangs there constantly reminding you of the mistake you made.  God, that is the worst.  Mistakes happen, but if this is a regular occurrence for you, it might be time to asses the way you shop and make decisions about your purchases.  The problem for many women is that they punish themselves for their mistakes by allowing these purchases to stay.  You made a mistake, move on, and let these useless guilty purchases go.  If the guilt keeps you from letting go, try this perspective, by donating it someone in need, reselling it to someone who will wear it or giving it to a friend who will wear it, at least the item will be of vale to someone.

The price tag really doesn’t matter

When I started working with clients, I started to witness this amazing phenomenon that I was not prepared for; my clients stopped really caring about the price tag.  Well, let me rephrase that.  I found that if a woman truly loved something that they tried on, saw the value in owning it and could envision how they would utilize the piece, they didn’t really care about how much the item cost.  Of course, I always pull items for my clients within their budgets, so it’s not like I was encouraging mindless spending.  The point is that often when the true value is apparent in an item the importance of the price tag drops.

This can be a helpful tool for you when shopping for clothing.  If you find yourself hemming and hawing over whether or not you should buy something, can’t really envision the piece in your life or feel like you are forcing something, it’s clearly a piece to either let go of or at least think about.

You feel absolutely amazing when you wear it

Lastly, you just feel amazing when you put something on.  Seriously, can you even put a price tag on this?  This is why value truly has no price tag.  You could pick up a thrift store find for $10 and have that be the most amazing piece while also trying on a $1,000 piece that makes you look like a rhinoceros.

The point in all of this is to not get caught up in the price of anything without also assessing its value to YOU, not to everyone else, not to your friend, not to your mom and not to the current trends.  Only you can know what the value is for you and and your wardrobe.  So if you constantly hear yourself saying, “Oh it’s on sale, how can I pass this up?” or “I’ll take it.” when someone is giving something away and you take it simply because it is free, be sure you have a reason that pertains to its value in your life and your wardrobe before you do.