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  • Writer's pictureAndrea Wallach

Impulse VS Investment purchases

You may have heard of impulse purchases and investment purchases when it comes to all kinds of things, but today we’re going to focus on clothes. So, what’s the difference between an impulse purchase and an investment purchase when it comes to clothing? Basically planning.

Is one better than the other? Not necessarily, they both serve a psychological as well as a functional purpose. We tend to make impulsive decisions (and purchases) when we are under high levels of stress or are going through a traumatic event. These purchases serve to ease our anxiety and provide a distraction from the stress in our lives, even just for a moment. Everyone needs a little dopamine boost once in a while! These purchases provide a little light in our moments of darkness and ease our suffering. Granted these might not be the healthiest coping mechanisms if you rely on them constantly, but so long as your mental health is otherwise stable, these little indulgences are normal, acceptable and even healthy once in a while. Sort of like a cheat-day when you’re on a diet.

The ideal combination that you want to aim for is to have 80% of your wardrobe stocked with investment pieces and keep the impulse items at about 20% or less. An important thing to remember is that investment pieces don’t necessarily have to be expensive, as long as they’re good quality and durable. The idea here is that you’ll be wearing them more frequently than most of your impulse purchases (usually, though it’s not a carved-in-stone rule) so you want to make sure they’ll be able to stand up to a little wear and tear.

On the other hand, remember that even your impulse purchases can be quality items, and sometimes may even end up being an integral part of your wardrobe. The issue that comes with impulse purchases is when there isn’t a lot of thought put into them in the first place. Impulse purchases often tend to be inexpensive “fast-fashion” pickups - things that are on sale or a flashy new trend. However, if you keep a wish-list of items you want to add to your wardrobe, you can even end up maximizing your impulse buying. Try to keep an eye on things like fabric content and stitch quality.

Care instructions are also important to pay attention to, particularly if something is going to be a wardrobe-staple for you. If you’re not a fan of regular dry cleaning, make sure you check the tags before buying a particular item. Even if your garment says “hand wash”, remember that a lot of modern washing machines have a “delicate/hand-wash” cycle programmed already, so don’t allow that to be a huge deterrent. In most cases, you can use your judgement. You probably wouldn’t want to put a delicate silk scarf in the machine, even on a “hand wash” cycle, but if you have a t-shirt that says hand wash only, you’ll probably be ok with the machine’s version (just make sure the temperature is cool).

Modern late-capitalist society has a tendency to polarize and moralize just about everything in our lives, including our spending habits. While there is something to be said for choosing ethical and sustainable brands over multinational conglomerates, (essentially being aware of where your garments come from and the impact they have on the world), it may be time to ease up on ourselves when it comes to the motivation behind the purchase itself. So relax, do a little planning when you can and enjoy your shiny new purchase, whatever it may be!


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