Conscious Living

Value vs. Price: Shopping More Consciously

We’re all working hard to do our bit for the planet and learning to live a little more sustainably. But what does that mean when it comes to our wardrobes? We asked Printfresh founder Amy Voloshin how she navigates that balance and why learning how to shop more consciously is important.
December 2021
Value vs. Price: Shopping More Consciously
Value vs. Price: Shopping More Consciously

How to Shop Thoughtfully For Your Next Wardrobe Additions

Why it’s important to find a balance

As I’ve gotten older and studied sustainability over the years, I’ve been able to change my mindset and buying behaviors. These days, we know so much more as consumers about where our clothes come from, who made them, and how we can give them a new life through recycling when we no longer want or need them. Personally, I’ve decided that I don’t really have an excuse for not trying to shop more sustainably – even when I’m looking for affordable pieces.

When I’m thinking about a new purchase, I tend to save up for something that I really want and love. There have been far too many occasions when I’ve rushed into buying something simply because the price was lower, but I’ve usually found myself disappointed quite quickly. 

Part of finding a good balance between value and price, for me, is buying less and delaying purchases to make sure that it’s something I actually need. Once I’ve made the decision to buy, I’ll save up and get the highest quality item that I can afford. (I also always calculate the cost-per-wear, but more on that later)!


Questions to ask yourself ahead of buying something

I think in many cases, it comes down to the age-old question–is this something I need or is this just something that I want? If I don’t have a strong desire or need for the item, I try to move on and not dwell on it too much.

I love shopping just as much as anyone else, but I get easily overwhelmed with too many things and clutter. I’ve learned that it is much better when I keep my wardrobe at a manageable size. Having a small selection also helps you to remember what you have already, which makes it much easier to ask yourself “does this new potential purchase fit into the collection well and fill a gap or is it too similar to something I already own?” 

Even if you’re not working with a capsule wardrobe, thinking about this before you buy can help you to save money on duplicates and leave you with more in the budget to shop for something different in the future.


Calculating Cost-Per-Wear

When you are just learning how to shop more sustainably, calculating your cost-per-wear can be a great way to decide if a larger investment is worth it. Now that I’m comfortable with this concept, I reference it in a less formal way. I really only invest in pieces I know I’ll use a lot, so I don’t need to make that calculation every time (although the Cladwell app, which is one of my favorites, can now do this for you!).

For items that don’t have a great cost-per-wear, like occasion-wear, I’ve switched to using a service like Rent the Runway. It’s been a great option instead of feeling guilty about purchasing a dress that I may never wear again.

For my everyday essentials, investing in high-quality loungewear, pajamas, and workout clothes has been so much fun! I wear these things on a daily and weekly basis over and over, across every season, so it’s definitely a worthy investment. If I know that something isn’t going to be a good fit for my daily or weekly rotation, I know that I need to skip it and save my money instead.


The best places to shop for value and price

While value is definitely important to think about, we all have our own personal budgets that we need to stick to. When you’re looking for something that’s more affordable, but still needs to fit into your plans for how to shop more consciously, buying secondhand is a great place to start.

The right secondhand clothes will still give you that high-quality item, but at a fraction of the cost, and you’re also helping to keep unwanted clothes out of landfills. It’s great for both the planet and your wallet! Ebay, Poshmark, Facebook Marketplace, buy-nothing groups, or even your local thrift store are all excellent places to get what you need at a good price. It’s the most sustainable option and you never know what treasures you might find!

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