How I’m Trying To Make Better Clothing Purchases

…even when the returns process is a ball-ache


I asked on Twitter if you guys would like to see fashion be given the Anti-Haul treatment and the majority of you said yes (16% said no, so apologies to you – hopefully you’ll enjoy this post instead?). Scroll down below to see the video, but to accompany it I thought I would talk you through the four methods I’m using to stop myself making damn right ridiculous decisions when it comes to buying clothes…


Stick to a capsule wardrobe. You can read about my most recent capsule wardrobe musings here, but in essence I love the idea because it enforces a self-imposed shopping ban throughout most of the year. I of course tend to find ways around it, but on the whole it stops me making impulse purchases and buying out-of-season items that by the time the appropriate time to wear them comes around I no longer want them in my wardrobe. It just makes me check myself whenever I come across something I want to buy. I think, do I really need this? Have I got something else in my wardrobe already like it? Can I just wait till my summer re-jig to see if it’s something that I still want then? It just puts the brakes on things a little.

Conduct an assessment. This is where I’ve really fallen down in the past. You know when you try something on fresh out of an ASOS parcel or you’re in a fitting room and you wear it for all of about 5 seconds before you remove it and conclude that it’s alright. Yep. Been there, done that, had a wardrobe full of ‘itchy, scratchy, digs into my belly’ items. These days I’m trying to conduct a real assessment of an item before I decide whether it’s something that could sit in my wardrobe and I wouldn’t have any niggles about it. Before I even try an item on I have a look at the label; firstly to check the material and then the cleaning instructions. Then I try it on and I do all sorts of crazy moves around the flat or in the fitting room. I try and go for a bit of a walk, wave my arms up in the air, pretend to hug someone, sit down – I look mad – but by doing all of these things I can check to see if there’s something about the piece that would get really darn annoying.


Not allow ball-ache factors get in the way. I’m talking about the times when you have to walk all the way into town to return an item when you’ve got a mad week and the thought of taking an hour out of your day to do that gives you heart palpitations. Or when the returns process of an online purchase is a five-step, call up customer service, get a returns number, have to pay for the delivery, complete and utter pain in the arse situation. I’m doing it. Even if it takes an age. Even if I have to talk to someone on the phone (EW!). Even if I have to walk into town and it makes me a moody mare for the rest of the day. I’m returning everything and anything that doesn’t make me feel like a million dollars when I wear it. Bad purchases will not be hung on to for all the wrong reasons/because I’m lazy.

Ignore the pressure. I always tend to shop alone and I’m ok with that. I like to be a bit of a loner when I peruse the shops. It allows me to go at my own pace, stick to shops that I actually want to visit and means I don’t get a pang to make a purchase just because the person I’m with is spending a small fortune. There are of course exceptions to the rule when it’s fun to hit to the town with a friend, but overall I’m a lone ranger. The fact that I’m a lone ranger, combined with the fact that I love to chat often means I end up getting chatty with the shop staff which then makes me feel like the world’s worst person when I’ve spent an age in there, tried on mountains of clothes and then leave empty handed. But the fact of the matter is, what if you just didn’t like anything you tried on? Surely it’s better to leave without buying a lacklustre jumper than it is to drop money on an item that will gather dust in your wardrobe because you only got it as a ‘guilt’ purchase. My innate ability to please hates whenever I do this, but I’m trying to get better at not buying things just because it’s awkward not to. It’s time to embrace the awkward turtle! 

Photos by Lauren Shipley



  • When it comes to shopping I prefer to go alone, although I will facetime my friends if I need a second opinion on something. I’ve also tried to stick to only buying items I’ll actually wear rather than ones that I think I’ll wear, but when I go to clear out my wardrobe they’ve ended up shoved behind items I’m constantly reaching for.
    Alicia x

  • grace

    I used to be the worst online shopper when I had an office job, constantly browsing and ordering things I didn’t need! Since starting travelling seven months ago, I have been living with only the clothes I can fit in my (admittedly, giant) suitcase and it’s been a breeze! It’s really changed my attitude and made me appreciate the ease of a capsule wardrobe!

    Grace | eat, write + explore x

  • HarrisonBeach

    Definitely going to do an Anti- Haul on my blog. Check it out, posting Monday’s, Wednesday’s & Friday’s.

  • I’ve actually just invested in a clothes rail which I keep next to my wardrobe so I can hang up new/old pieces that I haven’t worn enough of and can focus on those for a few weeks until I want to switch it up, seems to be working well so far as it stops me from reaching for the same old jeans and t-shirt combo I have grown to love so much!

  • Gosh I wish I could have a capsule wardrobe – my room is overflowing with clothes (an exaggeration) and I feel so overwhelmed by it all (not an exaggeration). I wish I could do a massive clear out but it’s so hard as I’m such a hoarder… guess I should just be tough on myself and not buy any more clothes in future and see if I can get rid of a few clothes in the meantime! Thank you so much for the tips though, will definitely have to enforce them at some point!

    Lizzie Bee //

  • This is really great advice!

    xo, Liz

  • I’ve been shopping a lot less these past two years or so. I used to buy so much stuff, there are thing in my wardrobe I’ve only worn once and that I perfectly know I won’t wear again… I guess as we get older we are less tempted to buy a lot. Your advice is great, and I’d also had that looking for quality clothes is a good way to shop more smartly.

    Julia x
    Last post: Lush Cup O’Coffee Review |

  • Fatima

    Such great tips! I really want to start a capsule wardrobe especially after seeing yours! 🙂

    Fatima x

  • Katie Harding

    This is great advice, I’ve been really appreciating your videos and blog posts recently, as I’ve shrunk out of a lot of my clothes (which is obviously a good thing :P) I’ve been playing with the idea of down sizing massively!

    Katie |

  • My secret is I just don’t have time to shop more, even online. That helps a lot to avoid out of boredom bits. I really only ever buy what I need. And stick to shops that have a great return policy.

    Linda, Libra, Loca: Beauty, Baby and Backpacking

  • I am desperate to start a capsule wardrobe!

  • I love this post Anna (and the video!) I find that bloggers and vloggers tend to make me want to buy more stuff so I love how you did an anti-haul. One thing I’ll say is that I prefer to shop alone… If my friends (or anyone) needs to convince me to buy something… then I shouldn’t be buying it. If in the first 10 secs of me putting on an article of clothing, I’m kinda comme ci-comme ca about it, it means that I won’t buy it. Thanks for this 🙂

  • hanan abdi

    inspiring to me to start a capsule the post and keep slaying girl 🙂
    A girl’s Journal

  • Emily

    This is such a nice counterpoint to so much online content. I love the idea of only buying what you really love.

  • This post came at the best time! Closet rehab is in progress 🙂 Thanks!
    Happy Easter 🙂 Hugs, Sophie //

  • JulietC

    I love this anti-haul attitude and I agree that consuming less or more thoughtfully is such a great counter-cultural step to take! I was wondering if you’d also thought about sustainable fashion i.e. will the manufacturing of your clothes hurt the environment or involve the exploitation of other people.

  • Anna

    First, totally love the anti-hauls! And second, for the perfect black ankle boots try By Blanch, a French company. I looked for aaaages for ones that had the perfect almond toe and right heel height and finally found them.

  • Sinead

    I can relate to the guilt that comes with not buying anything from a super friendly and helpful sales assistant. In fact that’s how I ended up with two tops that I don’t mind but certainly don’t love earlier this year.
    Other than embracing the awkwardness I still haven’t managed to find a good way to go about this.

  • This article is so helpful, thanks for sharing these tips! I’m trying to become more conscious as well since I’m getting tired of having a closet full of clothes I don’t like to wear. Slowly but surely I’m getting there x

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  • Robyn Wells

    I am so glad I found your blog. I love your simple classic style. Enjoyed this article as well. Luckily or unluckily the trends recently aren’t my style. The problem is I really need to replace some very worn out items but I can’t find anything to replace them with.

  • I like your shopping/style philosophy. I only will buy something if I like it and I can wear it multiple ways. Plus, I like to make sure the quality is good.

  • Antonio Vacos

    Nice article!
    Online service for photo retouching Photza

  • elisha mae

    Some super interesting points Anna – I’m so guilty of awkward purchases especially at high-end beauty counters!! Any tips on this would be very well received 🙂

    Elisha-Maé |

  • Melanie

    My pregnancy pretty much helped with downsizing my wardrobe. I only bought the items I knew I would get the most wear out from, plus one or two special items. And also considering that some basic items from my non-pregnancy wardrobe still fit, it does stop me from my old habit of buying a lot of clothes that I ended up not wearing.
    Anna, you definitely inspired me to shop more consciously! Thank you so much!

  • Great tips, as always! I definitely need to get more picky about my try-ons!
    { Katie Actually }

  • Seriously. I totally, 100% agree on all of your ‘anti-haul’ picks. SO TRUE. Except I kind of secretly love giant bell sleeves… largely a product of my stuck-in-the-70s mother pushing them on me until I was a teenager. Will never be able to shake my love for them <3

    I also love your points about building a capsule wardrobe! I've been reading The Curated Closet for what seems like forever in an attempt to streamline my clothes — and slow down my purchasing. The last one being the hardest habit to break. Love your tips, I'll definitely be reading through this again!

    Eire | Wolf & Stag

  • Sameera Lyra

    Its really a great idea to maintain an capsule wardrobe.

    thanks for your idea.
    Sameera Lyra

  • Couldn’t agree more with the point you’ve made on ignoring the pressure.

    After several shopping trips which ended in desperate purchases made under pressure (by loved one, who just wanted to help), I have decided to go shopping alone instead. It’s less stressful and pieces I end up buying are more likely to stay with me longer.

  • In contrast, I find shopping with my mum to be quite stress free and she acts almost as a personal stylist as she’ll tell me what suits and doesn’t very honestly.

    But I too am condensing my wardrobe, and keeping a separate wardrobe for my work clothes, as they are more corporate. This leads me to get dressed quicker as I’m not thinking of new combinations to wear. I do, however, cross over work tops to casual wear as well which is quite great.

    Maddie |

  • After many years I realized that I was basically already living in a capsule wardrobe because I like what I like. I didn’t even know that it had an official name. lol Capsule wardrobes save, time and money, plus you know you will always look good and your laundry won’t pile up.