Brown Boots and Chasing Unicorns

I did something dumb this week.

It’s something I’ve done lots of times and I’ll probably do again at some point. But I’m trying to do better.

What happened was, I went thrifting and walked out with a pair of brown boots that were, basically, wrong in every way. They aren’t in good condition; they aren’t well-made; they weren’t even that cheap. AND THEY DON’T EVEN FIT.

So why did I buy them?

Because they were disguised as a unicorn.

Ok, let me explain.

I’ve been looking for a pair of tan lace-up ankle boots for several years now. I know, it doesn't sound like anything special, but I just haven't been able to find a pair I like. So when I spotted a pair at my local thrift store — the right color, the right style, and what I THOUGHT was the right size — I grabbed them and headed for the checkout.

But as soon as I got home, I could see that they weren't right at all. My unicorn was just a goat with one horn. But like anyone who wants to believe they have seen a unicorn, I had plopped down my money for the chance at something ... magical.

Here's my point: How often have you bought something because it was almost what you wanted? Because I do this all the time. But I've resolved not to do it anymore. Those boots were the fake unicorn that broke the camel's back.

Shopping with purpose 

I have a few rules for what I'll buy when I'm thrifting (which, let's be real, is ALL of my shopping): 

1. Buy things I need

This one's easy. Socks, bras, coats with broken zippers, shoes that are falling apart: all these things need to be replaced. (Also someday I am going to have to replace my black skinny pants from H&M and I'm going to cry because they are perfect in every way and I'm 100% sure I will never find another pair that I like this much.)

2. Buy things that give me heart eyes

This is also known as the "no meh" rule. If I look at a dress or a top or a pair of shoes and think, "Meh," I am not allowed to buy it. Period. The end. No matter how loudly that little voice in my head is saying, "But you might wear it!" (Shut up, voice!)

These two are good rules and they have served me well. But after this week's false-unicorn experience, I'm adding a third one:

3. Buy things that are GOOD — not just "good enough"

No more pants that almost fit, skirts that are almost the right length ("I just have to hem it!" hahahaha) or shirts that almost don't make me hate my mom tummy. No more!

What are your shopping rules? Do you follow any of the same ones as me? Why or why not? I'd love to hear how you decide whether to buy something or not, especially if it's at a thrift store!


  1. Ah, I never buy shoes without (a) checking their condition looks decent, and (b) trying them on and wearing them for at least five minutes in the store. I don't want to buy them, go out wearing them, and then be in pain the rest of the day! I used to always buy clothes that needed alteration, or even entire re-making (before I was a mother) - and I more often than not did it pretty quickly. But now projects tend to lie around for months, or years, so I don't let myself any more unless it is absolutely to-die-for.

    1. I so admire people who do alterations or re-fashions - I just know myself well enough to know that it’s not realistic for me!

      I usually am really careful about buying shoes for all the reasons you mentioned - but it seems the more I want something, the less critical I am! Have to work on that ...

  2. Similar to the "no meh" rule, I don't let myself by something if I"m questioning it at all. If I put it on and I don't want to take it off, then I buy it. I'm not saying I don't mess up on that sometimes (mostly because I'm a sucker for anything linen, so I will occasionally convince myself that something is my style or fits, just because it is linen), but I try to stick to these rules. I also find it helpful to think of three ways I could wear the item.

    1. I’m ok with things not being versatile - I legit have certain garments that I wear maybe only once a year, and only in combination with 1-2 outfits. That part doesn’t bug me! But yeah - if you’re questioning it, that’s definitely a red flag!


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