In this episode of Office Hours, Mary asks “Is it ever okay to buy multiples of the same item”. From shoes to top, I share where you should stock up, and where you should restrain yourself– and when to buy backups.
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Read the full episode transcript below! – Ep 28 Office Hours Is it Okay to Buy Multiples?
Welcome back to Office Hours–the weekly show of the Everyday Style School podcast, where we answer one question, submitted by you, to help make style easier, and getting dressed more fun.
Today’s question was submitted by Mary, who wrote. I’ve often heard you say that you shouldn’t buy the same thing in a lot of colors. Are there ever times when it’s ok to buy multiples?
Fabulous question, and thank you for asking it, Mary!
If you’re listening and you haven’t heard me say you shouldn’t buy the same thing in lots of colors, here’s what Mary is referring to. Often, women head to the store, and they find a top they love, so they buy it in a bunch of colors. But then, they feel like they’re in a style rut, and that they look the same every day (probably because they do), so they head to the store to find something new, and what do you know? They find a top, or a sweater, or a blouse they love, so they buy it in a whole bunch of colors. Then the cycle repeats itself over and over until they hear some woman on a podcast tell them to stop doing that. By the way, I’m that woman, and this is that moment. But seriously, I’ve seen a lot of closets with a ton of clothes, very little variety, and a wardrobe owner who’s frustrated because all those clothes don’t add up to anything. While buying the same thing in lots of colors is an easy, short-term solution, it’s not a great long term, wardrobe building strategy.
But now that we know you shouldn’t pick one of each color tee that’s folded on the table at Old Navy, let’s answer Mary’s question. The answer is yes, it is ok to buy multiples of some items, and I’d even encourage it in a few cases. Here’s what I’d recommend.
In general, I’m going to stick to my guns when it comes to tops, and tell you not to clear the table or the rack buying one of each color. If you find a top you love, limit yourself to two–one neutral, and one color or print. This way you’ll have a neutral to pair with color or print bottoms, and something fun to pair with neutral bottoms. This is really all you need. Trust me next time you’re tempted to buy more. When I say tops here, I mean, stand-alone, knit and woven tops, like sweaters, sweatshirts, beyond basic tees, blouses. I even mean cardigans here. Even though you might find the perfect cardi–limit yourself to two. If this is a style you wear a lot, the same sweater in lots of colors is going to spark a style rut. Experiment with different cuts and different brands to keep the variety in your wardrobe.
My exception to the tops rule is PERFECT layering basics. Emphasis on the word perfect. When you find layering tees or shells that fit you perfectly, lay nicely under cardigans and jackets, and have the right neckline/sleeve length/whatever, stock up and buy the colors that 1) fit within your wardrobe, 2) are appealing to you, and 3) are flattering on you. Don’t just buy all the colors. I remember a Linda I worked with who was very conservative in terms of her wardrobe, but she had all these crazy colored and patterned shells that just didn’t look right on her–however, they were a style she liked, and anytime they came out with a new color or pattern, she just bought it. And then hated her wardrobe. So even when you find something that is really perfect, you still have to use the discernment of “does this version really work for me”. For example, last fall Nordstrom had a woven layering shell that had a great neckline for me and was long enough for my long torso, which can be super hard to find. I bought the Ivory since that’s my best neutral, I bought the leopard print, because it fits in my wardrobe color scheme, and I love it, and I bought the black because even though it isn’t BEST for me, I do wear it on occasion, and it was something I needed. However, I passed on the bright red and cobalt blue that the top came in because they’re just not colors I wear well. Give yourself a little more leeway in this category, but be realistic about how many you need, and what you’ll actually wear.
Now, on to pants. For me, pants are like layering tops– When you find a style that’s perfect, buy them in the colors that work for you. Finding really great pants is hard, so if you do, there’s no need to recreate the wheel and make life difficult. Buy the ones that work. My caveat here though is that your perfect pants can’t be the ONLY style of pants you wear. For example, I love the Kut from the Kloth ponte skinnies. I have them in black, plaid and burgundy. However, you’ll also see me in jeans, and leather leggings, and wide-leg trousers. If those skinny ponte pants were the ONLY pants I wore, it would lead to a style rut. As it stands, it’s a style that works really well for me, so they’re a great option–but they’re not my only option. That’s the big difference
Dresses are like stand-alone layering tops–limit yourself to two of the same one–and then, only if it’s really special.
When it comes to shoes–the trickier your feet are, the more I recommend buying multiples. If you’re someone who can wear any kind of shoes, and don’t deal with foot issues, there’s really no reason, other than laziness, to buy the same shoe in multiple colors. However, if your feet are tough to fit, or you need to find shoes that you can put your own inserts in, it makes sense to buy a couple of colors that work. However, keep in mind that often brands that work in one style will work for you in another, so try to add a little variety before just buying multiple of the same thing.
Other accessories–never. Those should be the exclamation point to your outfit, and they kind of lose their oomph when they all look alike.
So, that’s buying multiples of the same item in different colors, but there’s another approach to buying multiples–and that’s buying more than one of the exact same thing. Your backups, in case one wears out or gets ruined. In all honesty, there are times when I’ve wished I had a back up of one of my favorites, but over the years, those times have been few and far between, so this is not a strategy I’d use often. What I would say on this one is that 1) the item has to be absolutely perfect. Don’t stockpile things that are just ok. Just ok is easy to find. 2) It has to be an item you’ll want to wear for years to come. There’s no point in buying something that might be dated by the time you need it. And 3) It has to be hard to find an item for a hard to fit body. For example, if you are a size 8, 5 foot 6 rectangle, you don’t need to stockpile dark skinny jeans. You’ll be able to find a good pair again. However, if you’re a 6”2 pear and you find a pair of jeans that are long enough and has no gap in the back, buy two of those. You’ll be glad you have them when you need them.
I hope today’s show helps you stay out of a style rut and make good buying decisions. Thank you to Mary for asking such a fabulous question. If you’re listening, and have a question you’d like me to cover in Office Hours, email it to firstname.lastname@example.org/blog.
That’s all for today–see you next week!