Fashion: A sunk cost fallacy

Hi Readers!  The last month has prompted a lot of major life changes which I think are going to be reflected in the blog.  Namely, I’m going to be moving to Australia to start a new job as soon as my work visa comes through (wow.  Australia is nearly as bad as the USA in terms of processing these things.  Seriously!  I’ve obviously been spoiled with NZ’s speedy visa processes in the past).  In the meantime, D and I are just finishing up our jobs here in New Zealand through February and March (along with trying to finish off our tramping bucket list).  So throughout the month of January, I’ve been purging my wardrobe.  Seriously purging (I wish I had taken a photo of all the clothes I’ve recently donated but with moving flats and how busy I was last month, I didn’t even think of it).  I actually can’t believe how much clothing I’m still getting rid of considering I spent 12 out of the last 15 months on a clothes shopping ban!

I think I’m finally coming to terms with – and getting over – my clothes hoarding tendencies.

Why I hate all my clothes:

  • They no longer suit my lifestyle.  I stopped being a grad student and started actually working.  This coincided with moving into my 30s.  Aka, a perfect storm of “my clothes no longer work for me.”

Why now is a great time to purge:

  • I’m moving overseas.

Why I’m not going to buy anything new in the immediate future:

  • I’m moving to a new job, country and climate.  Only once I’ve lived there for some time will I be able to assess what I actually need.

I’ve made a lot regrettable clothing purchases over the last 10 years…  and I am still hauling some of them around!  What is especially scary is that once I find something I like, or decide I need X item but can’t decide which one, I often buy multiples (Sadly, I still do this.  I binged and purchased 5 sleeveless tops right after my shopping ban was over in October.  Sure, they were on super clearance for >$10 each at dotti, but I’m regretting the purchase as they actually don’t fit that well!).  It’s not enough just to have 1 unworn xyz item, I have multiples!  So many Modcloth dresses from 4-7 years ago…  So many secondhand marginal items from trademe.  An absolute hoard of threadless tees.  Cocktail dresses that were worn once or not at all!  It’s all going.

Clearing out all of this stuff has made me realize a lot about my shopping habits.  When you realize you have like 20 trademe tees and most of them only get worn once a year – you have a problem.  [The problem is I still think they’re totally cute or clever or quirky or whatever!]  I never wear them.  Out they go.  Another problem I have is a what seems like a dozen modcloth printed dresses that again only get worn about once a year (I’m glad I self-imposed a modcloth ban on myself a few years ago after I OD’d on them.  I haven’t been tempted by modcloth since, and I’d like to think I’m better for it).  Out they go.

This stuff isn’t making me happy – it’s filling me with guilt because it never gets worn.  And then I try to guilt myself into wearing it and I feel uncomfortable in it (for whatever reason).  Yet I can’t get rid of it because I spent money on it.  Or, I spend hours photographing it and trying to sell it on trademe for almost nothing.  Then I agonize over how I can’t fit anything into my closet, can’t find anything, and am embarrassed when my friends and flatmates tease me about how many clothes I have (they see it all whenever we’ve shifted flats over the years).

Finally I have realized that I am a succumbing to the sunk cost fallacy.  Let’s be honest – most clothes lose their value once you purchase them (or at least, they don’t unless you’re purchasing couture/designer/super high end luxury brands which I most certainly am not).  You will almost never recoup any of your cost, even if you re-sell them.  And if I’m not wearing them…  They literally have no value.  They’re just a big space waste.

But what if I want to wear that XYZ thing again?  If you seriously think there might be a need (e.g. my cousin is getting married next summer and I really want to wear this dress), then keep it.  But chances are, manufacturers are going to keep making more and more and more clothes, so you’ll be able to easily replace said item with something new and cuter!  And if it has some sentimental value, well ok.  Keep a few pieces to show the future generations or whatever.  Or just take a photo, put it in the donation box and call it a day.

I’m hoping that keeping these things in mind next time I’m tempted to buy something will prevent any unnecessary purchases, and thus buyers remorse.  It makes me even happier that I did my year of no shopping last year.  Sure it’s been finished for 3 months and there definitely was a bit of a buying binge when I finished (and also my new huge hoard of make-up) but I think I’m finally starting to see that exercise pay off.  If you haven’t worn something in a year when you weren’t allowed to buy any clothes, you really need to ditch it.

So I’m absolutely looking forward to our move to Geelong (Melbourne!) when I can actually start updating my wardrobe.  In the meantime, I need work out what I want to be my new style.

By the way, does anyone need any clothes hangers?  I seem to have an ever growing mountain of empty ones.



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