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How do you decide which gadget to buy? Take the Wardrobe Test

From Oura rings to the Vision Pro, shiny new tech is so achingly tempting. Here's a novel way to evaluate your potential purchase: Consider the choices you make with clothes.
Written by Chris Matyszczyk, Contributing Writer
clothes on a wardrobe
OlgaPink/Getty Images

You're likely often tempted to buy a new gadget.

Amazon holds a sale, Apple releases a new product, or Samsung offers something that looks genuinely innovative.

But how do you decide which to buy?

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Of course, you should read the ZDNET's expert advice as a first step, but there are so many personal aspects to making a decision that might cost you anything from a few dollars to a few thousand. So, how do you do it?

I'd like to offer you a personal barometer for tech purchases. I'd like you to think about your wardrobe.

Who are you wearing?

You might be the sort of person who doesn't care much about clothes. Or perhaps you merely claim not to care much about clothes.

Then again, you might be someone who takes a certain personal pride in what they wear, how they wear it, and how much they're prepared to pay for a particular piece of clothing.

For most people, there are certain essentials, like shirts, socks, dresses, and coats. Yet they'll spend differing amounts depending on how important those items are to them -- and, importantly, how those items reflect their own personality, self-image, and life.

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Try taking that same attitude with your tech purchases.

Ask yourself whether a particular piece of technology is essential, optional, or purely frivolous. Then ask yourself whether it's from a utilitarian brand, a middlebrow brand, or a fashionable brand.

No, Apple isn't quite Gucci but it's surely more elevated in image than, say, Samsung's Banana Republic -- yes, that's gone quite upscale, but not all the way -- or Dell's Ross Dress For Less.

How does it fit?

Once you've allowed yourself to choose a brand, consider the individual item.

With a piece of clothing, you may ask yourself how often you'll wear it. With a piece of technology, ask yourself how often you'll use it.

With a piece of clothing, you may wonder how it fits in with the other pieces of your wardrobe and whether you'll be able to create compatible outfits. With a piece of technology, you should ask yourself a very similar question. Will it sync with everything else? Will it play well with the choices you've made already? And will it somehow add to the way you live, work, and present yourself? 

Also: The best laptops you can buy: Expert tested

Will it, in fact, make you feel good for longer than a few days?

It's also worth thinking about how long it took you before you bought a particular piece of clothing. Was this an impulse purchase? Or did you ponder it for a while, considering whether it was worth it, whether it would make you feel good, or whether either of those things ultimately mattered at all?

Bearable or wearable?

What, though, about wearables?

You've perhaps had experience with smartwatches. Did you choose the one you bought because of its technological quality? Or did you choose it because you could get a strap in your favorite color?

Also: The best smartwatches you can buy

And if you're enticed by, say, Humane's AI Pin, will you really wear it all the time? Will you get tired of looking at your own palm to get information? Or will it mark you as a certain sort of person who you don't want to be?

Again, give it the Wardrobe Test, then decide.

Of course, there is one more question: Is this piece of technology far outside of your usual look -- and are you attracted to it for purely irrational reasons?

Think about pieces of clothing that you've (thought you) really wanted in the past and decided not to buy. How many times are you filled with regret? And how many times have you wondered what on Earth you were even thinking?

Review: Apple Vision Pro: Fascinating, flawed, and needs to fix 5 things

There are now so many gadgets from which to choose. Purchase decisions are hard, so please give yourself the space. Before every tech buying decision, take the Wardrobe Test and give really honest answers.

If you need visual aids, go to your wardrobe, open it, and stare at it -- and consider its relationship to your tech use. 

You might just discover it's closer than you thought.

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