How to Say No to That Little Black Dress

Have you ever had an item of clothing sit on your wishlist or in your shopping cart for more than a few days? If you have, it's likely because you need to decide if it's worth it or not. The value of its worth is a culmination of "how many times will I wear this?", "is it in style?", "how much does it cost?", and most importantly, "how do I feel and look?" All of these questions are important ones to ask yourself.

We sat down with Alexa von Tobel, StyleList guest editor and founder of, to find out how she says "no" to that so-called perfect item sitting in her shopping cart.

"When I think about expenditures, I put this filter on myself all the time, because I'm a human and I like to spend too," Alexa said. "I certainly have my own buttons, where I'm like, 'Ooh, I want to buy that,' but I always say 'okay, let's come back to it,' and what I often find is I forget about it -- which means I really didn't need it." While this may seem easy enough, Alexa has plenty of easy suggestions to follow.
  • Take an inventory: "I take an inventory of my closet and figure out what I already own. Often I'll be like, 'I really want that,' but I realize I probably have three of them in my closet. When I really want something, first I make sure I don't already own something just like it. That's why having an organized closet is key."
  • Avoid the 'hyper-trends': "For the things that are more impulse shopping, I'll buy at the cheaper retail stores like Zara, H&M, or Topshop. For the hyper-trendy things, I try and avoid them. I'm not the girl that will ever wear sneaker pumps! Yes, they are super fun, but I'm not going to spend my money on something that is great for a week."
  • Borrow from your friends: "If I really need something, it's often for an event, and I try and borrow it from my friends. We all have nice dresses that we buy and wear once or twice, which is why borrowing a cute dress from a friend saves you money."
  • Spend on the key pieces: "I like to buy really good pieces that I can wear for a long time. I have a lot of the really great basics, which I'll buy from the nicest brands."

Alexa has this down to a science, and we can all take a page from her playbook. As we were wrapping up our interview, she had one more math equation that got us thinking -- cost per wear!

"I loved this bright red coat for $700. I thought to myself, 'Okay, if I want to get that to a dollar per wear, how many times do I have to wear it?' Winter is only about 75 days, and I actually would have to wear it for the next 8 winters every single day to get its worth. Do I want to wear a red coat everyday? No, so I bought a nice black coat that I can wear for a long time (20 years). I'm a bit mathematical about it, but I love fashion and I don't think they have to be enemies. You just have to be smart about how you spend."

For more from our guest editor Alexa von Tobel, click here.

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