The Secret to Buying Clothes

Clothes are one of the simplest ways of expressing ourselves. In most cases these expressions revolve around sentiments such as freedom, success or individuality. Yet, if both of these statements are true, then why do we all have purchases we regret?


In many cases, the answer probably includes the phrase ‘because it was on sale.’ This is where we have made our first mistake. The simple reason is because most people would not describe themselves as cheap, let alone want it to be the defining sentiment in their choice of clothes.


Now of course monetary savings are great and they should be obtained wherever possible. However, allowing it to be the deciding factor will only encourage future regret. Therefore, in order to minimise the regret and increase the rates of return on our purchases, some thought into purchasing patterns is required.  This then poses the question; how the hell are we supposed to do this?

Consider the following:

The Warren Buffet Two List System

The sheer mention of the world’s greatest investor automaticaly seems to give credibility to any argument. As such, I’m going to skip the full explanation on how this works and use an analogy to quickly summarise this system for the purpose of the post. Here’s a link to a full explanation for those that are interested.


Essentially, you write a list of the top 25 brands you identify with. You then identify your top reasons for buying articles of clothing. This could be anything from craftsmanship, type of material, manufacture location or even how the brand makes you feel. Once this is done, you create a second list containing the top 5 brands which best represent your reasons. These 5 brands become your ‘value centre.’


Creating your value centre is important because if you were truly honest when you formed your value centre, chances are anything you would want to buy from these brands will be a purchase you will not regret. As such, the point of your value centre is to create a benchmark which any future clothes you may purchase must be equal to or greater than.


Hence, this means the new jacket you have your eye on should either be from a brand in your value centre or it should be compared against an equivalent in the centre. If said item exceeds the options in your value centre, chances are that it will be a treasured purchase.

The Education System

The second system is called The Education System.


Education is all about attempting, possibly failing and then learning from our mistakes. This is not often applied to inanimate objects such as clothes. However, learning how to buy clothes is like studying any course. All courses have different subjects. Similarly clothes have categories.

The simple analogy therefore lies in everyone’s favourite subject. Often you will excel at this subject – much like you are comfortable with your favourite types of clothing. Seems simple enough.


The challenge therefore lies in excelling in subjects we don’t like or areas of clothing which we often have regrets. Much like passing a challenging subject requires continual practice and learning from our mistakes, excelling at buying certain categories of clothes can only be improved with practice.

This is why I would say that any regret felt about an unwanted clothing item is misplaced. Instead, it should be put down to education and learning. However, this system requires some controls to be effective. These revolve around memory and being able to let go.


A simple test to achieve both of these controls is to put ‘unsure’ wardrobe items on a probationary 6 month period. If they aren’t worn in that time (making allowances for seasons etc), you’ve got to rip the band-aid off and get them out the door. Once this is done the key is to remember this moment and use it as reinforcement when you are considering a similar article of clothing. If this can be achieved then a regret free wardrobe is achievable.


In conclusion, no matter which system you consider, the main thing is to persevere with it. Before long you’ll start to see results.

For the record, My value centre generally revolves around ‘prep’ looks. As such, my top 5 brands are Abercrombie & Fitch, Adidas Originals, Ralph Lauren, Scotch and Soda and TOD’s. When I consider just these 5 brands, it’s rare that I find a purchase which I regret.



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