Are You a Weapon of Mass Consumption?


My question is : how do you STOP buying junk [food] clothes?

The analogy I am thinking of is akin to a dieter.  You know the trap women fall into : they know they should diet, get fit, lose weight, whatever.  But it all seems to hard – they are too unfit, too fat, too frumpy.  They may start the week with good intentions on Monday but fall off the wagon on Wednesday arvo and by Friday they are eating fish and chips for dinner.

So how do you stop doing the same thing with your wardrobe?  I aspire to a matched, well-considered wardrobe, but here I am sitting in a $7.98 on special t-shirt from Target.  Now I am  on mat leave and bought this t-shirt (and three others in the same cut but different colour) with my mind on our up-coming 12-week-long half-way-round Australia trip with my husband and three kids in tow, but still I don’t think this t-shirt was a wise choice long-term.  How do I break this crap-clothes habit and JUST SAY NO to more junk-food clothing?  I know it is ok to have some junk clothing for junky days/periods in your life, but what would you suggest to would-be clothing “dieters”?
Hope this make sense 🙂

The question is why do we buy cheap clothes that don’t make us feel really happy?  In my time as an image consultant and personal stylist I’ve talked to many people who tell me the reasons they buy cheap clothes, and most often it’s because of the following 3 reasons:

1. They don’t know themselves well enough to know what really suits them – their colouring, body shape, proportions and personal style, so they buy cheap because they don’t know what works.

2. They are pushed for time, small kids, a busy schedule leaves little time for shopping, so rather than take time to make great considered decisions, they dash in and out, buy the same garment in 3 colours and then have a wardrobe full of ‘it’ll do‘ clothes that don’t make them happy.

3. They’ve bought expensive and wrong in the past, they feel the cost is too great, so rather than make any more ‘expensive mistakes’, they buy the junk food of clothing, the cheap and throw-away instead.

Given that the earth’s resources are finite, and most people’s money is also finite, isn’t it better and more ecological to make great sound decisions on what to buy and maximise your money as well as not creating more landfill buy buying the badly made, or just the clothes that aren’t really you?

5 Steps to Avoid the Junk 

1. Discover your excesses – you may think that an image consultation is expensive, but if you go look in your wardrobe and add up all those junk-purchases, you may be horrified at how much money you’ve spent on them, times that buy the last decades of consumption and figure out what you’re really spending.  If the average person wears 20% of their clothes at least 80% of the time, how much wastage have you got cluttering up your space (like cholesterol in your bloodstream).

2. Know yourself – discover the colours that enhance you, learn which shapes and styles of clothes flatter your unique body,  understand your personality style so that you can choose the best colours, textures, patterns, fabrics and accessories to create the most confident and authentic version of you.  Invest in that image consultation, it will pay for itself multiple times over as it is a life skill that you were never taught.

3. Audit your wardrobe – go through piece by piece, work out what is really working, what isn’t what can be altered to make work.   Discover where your holes are and where you have excess.  Time and time again I see wardrobes with multiples of the same garment because people forget what they already have.

4. Buy judiciously – take the time to go shopping, no kids tagging along.  Give yourself a few hours, rushing in and out of shops will not help you make great decisions, we eat junk when we’re pushed for time or are feeling tired or rushed, we buy junk clothes for the same reasons.   You don’t have to buy, sometimes there is nothing in the shops that is right for you, don’t feel you have to buy something just because you’ve been out shopping.  Save that money for future shopping trips, each $10 you don’t spend today is put toward $100 or $1000 that you can spend on the most fabulous item at a future time.  If you hate shopping and buy whatever is nearest just so you can get out of the store, maybe it’s time you took a personal shopper along to make it a better and more fruitful experience.

5. Avoid pressure – if you have to have to have something for a wedding tomorrow, or an event this weekend you are more likely to spend unwisely.  If you know you have events coming up, take time early to start looking for an outfit, but before you even do that, shop your own wardrobe before you hit the shops, you may be amazed at what you can put together from existing pieces so that you don’t need to spend any more of your hard earned money.

Have you noticed after you eat junk food it doesn’t make you feel good?  You often feel uncomfortable and maybe even disgusted with yourself, remember that feeling, so that when you’re next tempted you can say “but I won’t feel good afterwards, so I’ll not eat that junk”.  Do the same with junk clothes, take the $10 or $20 you were about to spend, put it in a separate compartment in your wallet, and wait a month or two and see just how much you’ve saved, then spend the time finding some really fabulous clothes that fill the holes in your wardrobe that make you feel and look fabulous.

Look I’m a realist, we all fall off the wagon sometimes, and I’m not about to give up my chocolate or wine, neither will I also never not buy something cheap (and the latest fashion cos I want a little of that current trend in my wardrobe), but like a diet of junk food, a diet of junk clothes does not a great sartorial statement make!


I'm not sure if it's for you but how would you feel if you learned all about the colours and styles of clothing that suit your individual personality, shape and style? Just imagine what it would be like when you can open your wardrobe and pull together fabulous outfits that make you look and feel amazing every day? If you'd like to stop wasting money on the wrong clothes and accessories plus join an amazing bunch of very special women also on their style journey - then my 7 Steps to Style program is right for you. Find out more here.

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  • Thanks for a very interesting post! This one is really making me think.

    Although I do sometimes buy "junk" clothes for the reasons you mention, I think I do it most often for the same reasons I eat junk food. Neither purchase has anything to do with being hungry or needing something to wear–I'm trying to soothe myself.

    I have finally learned the old AA acronym HALT (we're most vulnerable to our bad-habit behaviors when we're Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired. And I'd also add Stressed to the list–). When junk clothes catch my eye, I try to ask myself if I'm experiencing any of those other emotions. 90% of the time I am. It's a hard pattern to unlearn.

  • Excellent post! I especially love this point:

    "Given that the earth's resources are finite, and most people's money is also finite, isn't it better and more ecological to make great sound decisions on what to buy and maximise your money as well as not creating more landfill buy buying the badly made, or just the clothes that aren't really you?"

    Also, thanks for linking back to the "It'll do" post. I missed that one, and making do with so-so clothes is my #1 wardrobe problem. I buy dull-but-serviceable clothes, and am then surprised when everything in my closet is boring and not really me. Sheesh!

  • So well said. I am so surprised how little I shop at junk food clothing stores since I hired a stylist to audit my closet and help me pair outfits in my closet. I know more about what works for me. I've still made mistakes, but a lot less of the time. A list of what I need helps me from buying junk food (just like when you go grocery shopping with a list).

  • Very helpful post. I find that very often I buy "junk" clothes just because I feel compelled to buy something to justify each shopping trip. Just so it wont feel like I've wasted my time. I'm beginning to realize that buying something I dont love is a waste of time and money.

  • Love the topic!

    I don't think I do much junk shopping. Your advice to ask: Would you buy it if it was full price? and my minimalistic outlook keeps me from it.

    When I am just craving a new color, I go for a scarf (ideally used) or a tank-top. I don't think this is junk shopping, since I truly enjoy a variety of colors and exploring new ones.

    I like the HALT thing, never heard of it. I will start asking myself if I am Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired.

    – tall & slim anon

  • P.S. I find shopping in my own closet a great soothing activity. Not ideal, but better than junk shopping or snacking. And I usually come up with new combinations!

    – tall & slim anon

  • You have forgotten one aspect. I buy junk t-shirts, because the more expensive ones are often not better made. It is nearly impossible to find a nice, good made t-shirt in nice cotton. The same is true for shoes, bags and a lot of other stuff. I mean well made, not designer expensive. There is some upscale Walmart where I live, there are actually two chains. They have really nice thick bio cotton, fair-trade shirts, unfortunately they are also so conservative in color and cut and so basic that there is not much too choose from.

  • Great post, Imogen.

    I have noticed a real difference in my closet since I for-the-most-part stopped settling.

    I think the hardest habit for me to break was the one of leaving with something vs nothing. Given the time invested, walking out empty-handed felt like defeat, so I'd often buy something, no matter how small.

    [Second-hardest: leaving a not-that-great sale item behind because I liked the price. If only a great price automatically made one look good!]

    Now it (usually!) feels good to leave the way I came in if nothing works, and I can (usually!) leave in peace.

    I find when I am looking for something very specific, though, I get het up when I can't find it and am more likely to want a substitute "trophy." I'm in that place right now, actually, and grrrrr.

    Which brings us back to the AA rules. 😉

  • Brilliant! Love this post!! I was a junk-clothing buyer when I thought quantity would be more fun than quality. Realizing that quality fit, looked, and lasted so much better than junk helped me change that outlook once and for all.

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