The solution is to stop shopping the way I have been shopping. That means, no more browsing the clearance rack and buying more of the same stuff that I already have just because it's my size and on sale. That is such a dumb trap, and I keep falling into it over and over. Doing this means that I end up with a bunch of stuff I don't really like and don't need.
The purchases I love and use most are the ones where I target something I need to complete an outfit or something I want to fit in with a trend I like. Then I go buy that item, whether it's on sale or not. I bought a bright tangerine cardigan at J.Crew this way and it's one of my most-worn items. Even though it's far from a neutral, it seems to work with everything. If I had bought a sweater I liked less just because it was on sale, I am sure I wouldn't have worn it as much. Or if I didn't, I wouldn't feel as happy in it.
What I love about these boots is the detail. I had originally chosen a different pair to try on, but the salesman brought these too and I like that they are unique. Now I need a few great dark skirts that I can wear with tights.
It's amazing how hard it is to go against the "It's on sale" demon and it's corollary, "Only suckers pay full-price." The reality is that I wear a size 10 shoe and a size 14 in clothes right now (sometimes 12). Stores usually only get one or two of each item in my size, especially since the recession. If I wait for a sale, I'm going to be left with only choices that other people my size didn't like, probably for good reasons. You know what's left in these sizes on the clearance rack? High-heeled shoes, because women who wear size 10 tend to be tall. Shoes that pinch or rub or are ugly. Clothes that look great on thin women but not so much on women my size. Items that fit strangely. Ugly colors. I usually skip over that stuff, but I do tend to buy things I don't love. Yet another t-shirt. More sweaters that aren't quite the right length. Jeans that go on and zip but don't do much for me. Buying this stuff is a big message that I don't deserve better. And I do deserve better.
I need to keep reminding myself, "fewer but better clothes." I don't need a lot of things, I just need the things I really love, want and need to replace the ones that just sort-of work.