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Buying Less, Even on Vacation

Updated: May 15, 2019

We take NYC shopping very, very seriously.

We research brands, thrift shops, flea markets, and sample sales, tag them on Google Maps, plan out our routes, get our loaded metro cards, fuel up on coffee, grab our foldable bags, and go! Wait...doesn't everyone?

In a few days, my shopping BFF and I will be hopping on a red eye to NYC for shopping, shows, and some quality girl time. What makes a good shopping BFF? Someone who knows your style and your closet, shops at a similar pace, is brutally honest, and loves it just as much as you do.

Some people like fine dining, expensive wine, fancy hotels, spas, or resorts...we like to shop. That feeling of walking into a shop together for the first time and finding that treasure is everything--something that online shopping can never replace. The energy and buzz of NYC, the unique brands, vintage goods scene, NYC-only sample sales, walkability, and people watching are unparalleled.

But how do we reconcile our shopping trip with our goals to buy less and more thoughtfully? I love sample sales, but they epitomize impulse buys.

At the same time, places like sample sales and outlet shops can be a great way to find investment pieces that you otherwise wouldn't be able to afford. As long as you have a bit of a game plan before your trip, you should be able to manage your purchases. So, we will go on this trip with the same 3 rules I try to live by on a daily basis.

RULE #1 Curate a list of items you're looking for, and try to stick with it.

I find if you focus on pieces you've been coveting for a while, it helps keep your eye on the ball. So when I stumble upon that random pair of mules at 50% off, I can ask myself if I would replace something on my list for this unexpected buy. Chances are, I wouldn't, and I can pass them up feeling good about my decision.

Here's my list:

  1. Soludos Ibiza Platform Sneakers Soludos' only shop is in SoHo

  2. Khaki trench coat Checking out & Other Stories, Belted A Line Trench Coat.

  3. Dress Will be on active hunt at the L.K. Bennett sample sale

  4. Tank Tops (neutral colors)

  5. Hat On the map: Goorin Hat Bros.

  6. Vintage piece One of our must-sees: Amarcord Vintage Fashion, Brooklyn

(Clockwise, from top left: Soludos Ibiza Platform sneakers, & Other Stories A Line Trench Coat, Goorin Bros., L.K. Bennett)

RULE #2 Set a realistic budget.

If you have a sense of how much you've got to spend, it will help you pace yourself and direct your purchases towards the items on your list.

For 6+ items and 5 days, my budget: $1,000

RULE #3 Stay thoughtful about your buys. Consider the overall wearability factor in each potential purchase.

After all, whether you spend $5 or $150, the point is to wear the thing, a lot.

There are several things I try to consider when I buy. The basic requirements of my closet correlate directly with my daily mom lifestyle and SF weather--seasonless and consistently unpredictable. I try to take a step back and break if down to really see how wearable the piece will be.


  1. Versatility How easily can I incorporate this piece into outfits with my existing pieces? How well does it layer? Can I wear it at least 3 seasons a year?

  2. Wearability How comfortable and flattering is the fit, fabric, and style? Is it machine washable? Do I feel confident wearing it? Is this replacing something I own that's gotten too old/worn/dated?

  3. Value Is this the best version of this item I can find for the money I'm spending? Can I see myself wearing this in 5 or 10 years? Is it well made? Ethically made?

Sometimes all of the stars align and it's easy to make a purchase decision, like when I discovered my Agolde Jamie Hi Rise jeans on the final clearance rack. Other times, I need to grab my shopping BFF, ignore the fitting room line that's started to form, and start deliberating. That's why FaceTime was invented!

If all else fails, just stick with the mantra I try to instill in my 10-year-old: A lot of things are cute; that doesn't mean you have to buy all of them.

OK NYC...get ready, 'cause here we come!

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