It’s About Time

Ruth Wong

Simple rules for shopping

If you could live your life over again, what would you do differently? One thing I'd do differently is to hire a wardrobe consultant. I say this because of what I've found in my closet.

Two weeks ago when I encouraged you to spring-clean and brighten your closet, did you? What did you find in your closet?

Did you, as I did, find clothes that were once friends but had since become acquaintances or strangers? Were there too many "mistakes" that should never have been purchased in the first place? Were items still there because you forgot to return them to the store or because you couldn't find the receipt?

If we were to add up the sum total dollars of the clothes in our closets, many of us would be amazed and alarmed.

I remember doing this some years ago, and as I tallied up the cost of my closet contents, I expected the sum total to run into the hundreds of dollars. To my dismay, the total easily ran into the thousands of dollars.

For me to realize that I had spent all that money and to feel that I had nothing to wear was discouraging. What had I been doing? Had I been shopping just to shop? Buying just to buy?

Now, I'm an organizational consultant and not a wardrobe consultant, but since I've had so much experience in making mistakes, I'd like you to benefit from them, saving some time and money.

Here are my "Rules for Shopping":

1. Shop with a purpose. Know what gaps in your wardrobe need to be filled. Of course, if you find something that's not on your list but that fulfills the following rules, and if your budget allows, go ahead and consider it.

2. Know what your best colors are. Color doesn't cost a thing. For the same price, you can buy a color that flatters you or one that looks drab and uncomplimentary.

3. Don't buy too many similar items. In my closet I found a dozen black knit tops, each with a slight variation in neckline, sleeve or length. "Good grief," I thought. "How many black knit tops do I really need?" Not that many, for sure!

4. Don't buy just because something's a bargain. It really isn't a bargain if it ends up sitting in the closet, unworn. Ask yourself if you love the item or just love the price.

5. Think quality, not quantity.

6. Don't misplace your store receipt. I paper-clip mine to accompanying price tags so they're easy to find if I need to exchange or return an item.

7. Last, but perhaps most important: Don't buy those things you can live with; buy those things you can't live without.

I first heard this saying in reference to marriage: "Don't marry the person you can live with; marry the person you can't live without" (a good rule in itself), but, being an organizer, I've applied it to shopping. This one criterion eliminates a lot of so-so choices in our purchases as well as in potential spouses!

As you can see, the shopping rules don't apply just to clothing. They can apply to any purchase. I encourage you to shop wisely and purposefully. You'll have less clutter in your homes and closets, less to take care of or lament, and more time and money for things most important to you.

Happy and wise shopping. See you in two weeks!

"It's About Time," by Ruth Wong, owner of Organization Plus, runs the fourth Friday of each month. Contact her at "It's About Time," care of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, Honolulu 96813; or e-mail


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