Does My Wardrobe Need It?
1.) Does it fit? It may sound harsh, but it doesn't matter how much you love something if it doesn't fit you. That said, loving something that doesn't fit perfectly isn't a definite no; you just have to also figure in the cost of tailoring. If you want a $60 pair of pants and have to pay $60 to have them tailored for you, it's probably not worth it!
2.) Is it functional? If you work in a conservative office, you probably don't need shredded jeans. If you live in Texas, you probably don't need a fur coat. If you're a college student, you probably don't need a ballgown. It can't hurt to have one of something that isn't exactly functional just in case the occasion ever calls for it, but don't go overboard buying three pairs of rain boots if you live in Death Valley.
3.) Would you wear it more than once? I know how serious the urge can be to buy an amazing formal dress or fur coat, but if you're only going to wear it to one event, it's not worth the cost - no matter how beautiful it is. Instead, buy a few smaller pieces that you can wear for multiple occasions.
4.) Does it look great on you? It's not enough for it to look good on a hanger or a mannequin or a model in a magazine; it needs to look good on you, too. You're a beautiful person and it could be a beautiful piece but if the fit or the cut or the color isn't perfect, scrap it. You can always do better.
5.) Is it unique? This might be the hardest part. You know what you like and what your style is, and because of that it's so easy to fall into a style rut and wake up one morning under a pile of pastel A-line dresses. You might love something because it looks like other things you love, but that's exactly why you should think twice before you make the purchase.
6.) Will you miss it if you don't have it? Sometimes, if you can't decide whether or not you need something, it's best to just walk away. Buying something you're not sure about can lead you to keep it even if you aren't in love just because it's easier to, but if you don't buy it, you'll know immediately whether or not you need it. I've been ambivalent about things in the store, walked away, and never thought about them again; on the other hand, I've left something in a store and absolutely pined for it and returned to buy it the very next day. It seems easy to buy it and think about it, but doing the opposite is a smarter choice.
7.) Can you afford it? This, unfortunately, is the most important thing. I've seen clothes and accessories I may have consider trading my firstborn for, but since they typically cost around the same price as six months' rent, I've had to pass. It hurts, I know, but that's what being an adult means. If you have to choose between food or a dress, choose food (I don't care what Carrie Bradshaw says!). Just use those really nice, pricey things as motivation for you to keep working hard and making money.
Have you been following along with a particular item in mind? Then if you've made it this far with all Yeses, congratulations on your new purchase! If you've had mostly Nos, sounds like it's better to wait for the next amazing thing. And there'll always be another amazing thing.