Some people really hate shopping. I am not one of those people. Those people and I generally do not get along well as I do not understand them. I LOVE shopping. I love it so much that I'm going to start a personal styling business that I can shop for other people. And when I shop, I shop HARD - 2 hours minimum, usually more like 4, or until store closing - but I also shop SMART. Here are my rules for successful, effective shopping:
1. Do not bring anyone else along shopping with you, unless they are acting as your personal stylist or shopping assistant. This means no boyfriends (although my boyfriend is a wonderful shopping companion, he tires out far more quickly than I do and I end up feeling guilty and leaving early) no friends (they never want to go into the same stores as you and you typically end up losing them in the store anyway) etc. If you happen to have someone as amazing as *me* in your life, however, by all means take them along. What I mean by this is that when you take me along on a shopping trip, I run through the entire store, find things that make you look amazing, stand in the dressing room while you try them on and tell you how each of them looks, then leave you to relax in the dressing room while I find you more things. I build outfits for you. I accessorize you. Hire me, I'm amazing. But in general, shopping along is best.
2. Take care of your basic needs. Don't shop when you're hungry, thirsty, tired, or need to go to the bathroom. Shopping can be exhausting and you should never torture yourself. There is a REASON malls have food courts, drinking fountains and public restrooms - use them!
3. Dress conciously. When going on a shopping trip, there are 2 options for dress: first, wear an item that will go with everything you try on, like your favorite pair of jeans if you're trying on tops, or your favorite top if you're trying on bottoms. You want to see how the item you're considering will fit into the wardrobe you already own. Second option is to wear something that's easy to put on and take off over and over again, like a simple, loose dress. DON'T wear anything with lots of buttons, hooks, snaps, or that takes more than 3 seconds to put on and off. Also be concious of your underwear - wear what you ordinarily wear. So no bathing suit tops unless you're trying on beach cover ups, that sort of thing. Also don't wear heels unless you are a marathon heel-wearer and do not get tired in them, ever. They are a pain to take on and off and shopping requires a lot of walking.
4. Have an idea of what you want. Even if you're just going to browse, have a few things in mind that you'd been thinking about lately (for me right now, this includes rompers, maxi dresses, ruffly tops, statement bracelets and necklaces, a tan bag, a black bag, a chambray button-up shirt, and some military trend stuff. I don't NEED these things, but it helps give me something to look for.) The more specific, the better - for example, for me, not just any romper will do, it needs to also be flowy and loose - that will help you seperate "worth trying on" from "will look like crap on me" and help avoid wasting your time or energy carrying around armloads of garments that you will not buy. Try browsing a store's online catologue to get an idea of somethings you might like to try on.
5. Choose your stores wisely. Always visit Your Store. You know - that store that you ALWAYS find something cute in, that makes you smile and feel like you're home (or maybe that's just me), that store that is a haven of clothes that fit you and make you feel wonderful. Always, always go to that store! For me - and lots of cheap fashionistas - that store is Forever 21. And also Marshall's and TJ Maxx. Ah, how I love them. *sighs happily* Anyway. Don't EVER be intimidated by a store - the days of the Pretty Woman sales clerk from hell are over! You can go into any store you want as long as you can afford the clothes there! It's your money that keeps those stores running - don't ever feel embarassed or scared to visit a store. And if you feel overwhelmed and don't know where to start, ask a salesperson for help. They're usually quite friendly and eager to help you, especially in higher-priced retailers where they often work on commission. They are your FRIENDS, and don't be scared to ask them to find you an item in your size, or if they have an item you're looking for - that's what they are paid for!!
6. First impressions are everything. Once you get yourself into the dressing room, give yourself about 5 seconds after you put on an item of clothing and look in the mirror to make a snap descision about how you feel. If any of the following phrases pop into your head: "I love this!" "I need this in my life!" "OH MY GODDDD AMAZING!" "This will go with _______ and _______ and I can wear it to _______." Buy. That. Item. On the other hand, if any of the following things phrases into your head, proceed to step 5: "I like this, but I don't LOVE it," "I'm not sure how I feel about this," "It's ok."
7. Deciding on a "maybe" item using price. If the item is good but not GREAT, name a price in your head for how much that item is worth to you - a price you would be happy to pay for it without feeling like you were ripped off. (Try not to look at the tag first, it makes this step much harder.) If the actual price of the item is significantly higher than what you came up with, don't get it. If you STILL can't decide, move on to step 8.
8. Ask yourself the following questions before purchasing a "maybe" item:
1) Are there any flaws in this item? Buttons missing, broken zippers, holes, hem too short, baggy, illfitting? This is a common occurence in "maybe" items, and the majority of people should NOT get these items. Why? Because they will never fix the flaw, and thus will never wear the clothing. Unless you have a history of taking a flawed item home and repairing this, and have ACTUALLY done this before, don't purchase a flawed "maybe."
2) How many outfits can you imagine off the top of your head for this item, using your current wardrobe? If you will need to purchase additional items of clothing in order to have even ONE good outfit, don't purchase that maybe. However, if you can come up with several different outfits that the item will fit into using clothes you already own, this might be a good buy.
3) Where will you wear this item? And how often? For example, when deciding on a cute but expensive pair of jeans, consider how often you wear jeans. If you wear them almost every day, then simple math can tell you how many days you will need to wear the item to earn back its use (example: for a $70 pair of jeans, wearing them over 70 times will have earned back the item's value and thus the jeans will have essentially paid for themselves). With the exception of special occasion items like prom dresses or wedding wear, you want an item that you will wear often enough to earn back its value, and that you have places you can wear it regularly.
4) Is this item comfortable? Is it too tight anywhere? Can you sit down in it comfortably? For shoes, how well can you walk in them? How well can you balance? One thing I like to do for a "maybe" item - especially shoes - is to wear the item around for several trips around the store. If I'm deciding on purchasing an expensive pair of shoes, I'll usually wear them until I'm finished shopping to make sure that they are comfortable. For clothes, I like to wear them out of the dressing room at least once - that way I can gauge how I feel walking around in the item (restricted? confident?) and get a fresh view in the mirror when I come back.
5) Will I miss this item if I don't buy it? This is a test I usually end up putting expensive "maybe"'s through. If I love an item and I know it isn't apt to dissapear anytime soon, I leave it in the store, go on my merry way for a while, and see if I'm still thinking about the item enough to come back and get it. This is easy on a mall shopping trip, but I recommend it even on one-store trips. Leave it for a few days. If you find yourself thinking about the item and wanting it, go back and get it. This worked out well for me when I fell in love with a $300 Betsey Johnson jacket. I couldn't afford it at $300, so I left it - but I found myself thinking about it constantly, dreaming about it, buying fabric to attempt to make my own, looking at it wistfully online .... all those things you do when you're in love with an item of clothing. So when I went back to the Betsey Johson store and found My Jacket on sale for $90, it was an immediate buy. I've been lusting after that jacket for MONTHS. If you leave something in the store and don't find yourself wanting to go back and get it, that's a sign that you don't love it enough to purchase it.
9. Ignore the haters. If you feel sexy in a top, but you hear your mom's voice in your head harping on about how you look like a harlot, stop thinking about your mom, buy the top and then take care to never wear it around her. Similarly, if you're trying on a sexy piece of lingerie that makes you feel uncomfortable but you know your boyfriend/husband would go bananas over, don't buy it. Buy something sexy that you FEEL sexy in. You should never have to be talked into buying an item: if you have to be talked into it, you don't love it enough to wear it once you take it home. And don't let anyone talk you out of something you love if you see yourself wearing it once you take it home. People can hate on my faux fur vest and my bright purple silk high waisted shorts all they want, but in the end, I feel great wearing them and that's all that matters!
10. Only buy what you love. "Maybe" rules aside, if you don't love something, you won't wear it - and spending money on something you don't wear is stupid, even if it's really cheap! (I learned this after buying a lot of cheap crap at thrift stores that I later had to donate back to the thrift store after not wearing any of it.) Even if you are a difficult shopper - like my mom, who had to be talked into buying a properly fitting bra and throws a fit about anything that's not shaped like a giant bag and horribly unflattering - there's always The One, that item of clothing that makes you smile when you see it and you have to stop yourself from wearing every day with everything you own, that makes you feel super hot and confident.... even the most difficult shopper can't resist buying The One. My mom, world's most difficult shopper (as her personal stylist, I know this) spent about 3 seconds in a cute top from Chico's before she dropped $80 on it without a second though. She LOVES that top. I've seen her wear it several times now, and she feels great in it. It's her "I want to look hot today" top. Worth it? Definetly. Unusual for her to buy? Absolutely. But was it The One? It was!
11. Return policies are your friend. Everyone makes mistakes - luckily for everyone, this is why we have return policies! Make sure you know about the return policy before you take an item home - clearance items are typically final sale. Do not rip the labels out of all your new clothes the second you take them home, and do not throw away the receipt. Give yourself a 2 week period to make sure you wear whatever you bought. If you haven't worn it by 2 weeks, you aren't going to wear it, and you need to take it back. If you wear it for a couple of hours and you feel like crap in it the whole time, you need to take it back. Do NOT return an item because you spilled something on it or ripped it - that's your fault and the retailer doesn't need to pay for your clumsiness! DO return an item if you don't wear it or don't like the way you feel in it after wearing it for a couple of hours.
May your shopping trips be filled with joy