Whether you love shopping or hate shopping, it’s one of those things that must be done. You can’t just rely on Grandma’s annual Christmas sweater gift and mom’s hand-me-downs.
Don’t argue with me on this one.
So if you want to get in AND get out of a shopping mall with your sanity and a few solid pieces to add to your wardrobe, then follow these tips:
1. Shop Solo
Don’t get me wrong. Shopping with friends is fun and I’m all for it. On the other hand, if you are serious about adding to your wardrobe in strategic way (and aren’t out to just blow a little cash and window shop) then it’s best to shop solo. The problem is that when you shop with friends there’s always the pressure to shop where they want to shop and to not take as long in stores as you may want. That means that you may end up buying things without trying them on or rushing decisions, which leads to making mistakes. Shopping mistakes usually mean wasting your $.
One of the best things I’ve ever done is sign up for emails from my favourite stores. Not only do you get mega sale alerts to your inbox but over time you start to get a sense of each store’s sale/seasonal cycles. Then if you see something you like full price, you can pretty much start to predict when it’ll be at a price worth paying. Some of my local favourites are the Gap Trilogy (Old Navy, Gap, Banana Republic), Jacob Clothing, and Plum. Some of them even offer up to 20% off your first purchase just for signing up. Brilliant!
3. Have a Plan
If you don’t know what you are looking for, you’ll never find it. If you want to make the most of your time and energy, first take stock of what you already have and try to identify at least 3 things that you need to round our your wardrobe (for work or play) like:
- purple or pink wrap dress
- mint green sleeveless blouse
- black mary jane patent leather heels
Use a checklist if possible to make sure your basics are covered like “My Complete Work Wear Style Wardrobe Checklist” or My Top 10 Classic Work Wear Pieces and for flare pieces, save photos on your smart phone of style blog images, magazine or celebrity or Pinterest outfit inspiration (see mine here). I find that visuals really help keep you on track and away from the impulse purchases you don’t need (like another grey cardigan).
4. Be aware ..of your Underwear
If your intention is to really shop then that means you need to try things on. One of my dear friends went shopping once and sent me a picture of 2 dresses she couldn’t decide between (both low-cut V-necks) The only thing was she had gone shopping right from hockey and had a sports bra underneath (love you Miss Jen). The dresses were great picks for her but it was so difficult to see with the sports bra. Do yourself a favour and a) wear a thong (or seamless undies) and b) a nude or white bra. Then you’ll really see how the clothes fit on that fabulous body of yours.
5. Wear Clothes that You Can Get in and Out Of.
Similar to the above, if you are really on a shopping mission then you have to commit to getting into and out of LOTS of clothes. Make it easy on yourself and wear stretchy stuff and in single layers. If you’re squeezing into skinny jeans and putting on 3 layers of tops each time you’ll get tired before your Visa does. Read more at “Finding your Style – Trying is Not Buying”
6. Be Prepared to try on 3 Different Sizes
Anyone that has ever gone shopping knows that a size 8 in one store is not the same as a size 8 in another store. For example, I can buy a 6 or 8 pants no problem in Jacob or The Gap but put me in Aritzia and I’ll most likely be a 12 or so. You have to let it all go and remember that NO ONE sees the size tag but you. Cut it out if you want after you buy it for goodness sake. What’s important is how it fits. If you get thrown off because the 8 won’t pull up over your hips then you’re going to miss out on a lot of great stuff. Just grab 3 sizes and a change room.
If you are buying a dress… bring heels.
If you are looking for a pair of boots you want to tuck skinny jeans into… then wear skinny jeans.
Sounds simple right? One of the things I hate the most when shopping is trying on a dress and playing that standing on my toes game to get a sense of what it would REALLY look like if I had on heels. Save yourself the trouble and set the stage! Check out my favourite nude heels.
8. Know Which Stores you Won’t Shop In.
I did a post on “Things Women over 35 Shouldn’t Wear” and in that post I mentioned that I’m just much too far along to be buying in teenybopper stores that have cheap clothes for small cash. I’ve been burned by the pilling, loose seams and general bad quality before and I KNOW which stores are repeat offenders. I know I need to stay out of them. Oh…but that marketing machine! It’ll getcha! So know where you won’t shop – (check out my X list here) and stick to it.
9. Be Open to Tailoring
As a short girl with more of a “pear” shape, I can tell you that my body isn’t always easy to dress. Really though, every girl thinks that they are the problem, not the clothes. Remember though that stores make clothes for a stock body type of which few fit into perfectly. Try to purchase things on sale, with the intention of knowing you may need to pay a professional to make it fit you like a glove. Once you get stuff tailored you’ll never go back. For example, I fell in love with a turquoise sheath dress at Jacob for $100. I went up a size to an 8 so it would fit my hips but it was a bit baggy in the top so… I waited for it to go on sale at 40% off and then took it to a tailor to have the side seams fit exactly to me for $25. In the end, I got a perfect dress for $15 under the regular price. *fist pump*
For those of you that have followed this blog for a while you may remember my infamous, hormone pregnancy fueled major shopping blunder. I essentially went into a store and spur of the moment I purchased this pair of black boots for over $300. Yes… I know. I’d never owned a pair of $300 boots in my life but somehow these fit the ticket after like 10 minutes of “deep thought”. I took them home, decided they weren’t quite what I wanted and went to return them but oops – the return policy on the receipt clearly says “returns only within 10 days for store credit”. Ack! $300 of store credit at a place I never shop at ? eeeesh. Please learn from my mistake.
That’s all my friends. Follow these tips (derived my personal school of shopping hard knocks) and I know you’ll leave your next shopping trip with more money, more good stuff you need and more smiles.