The Fashion Girl's Guide to Shopping... the Right Way
There are two kinds of people in the world: those who love shopping and those who do not.
I am of the personal belief that people who don't like to shop simply don't know how to do it correctly. They have had too many failed attempts in the past. They've struggled to find anything they'd like to purchase, and so have given up on shopping completely.
I am someone who loves to go shopping. You can find me passionately flicking through racks in the local mall, small boutiques and in large department stores. I am always on a mission to find hidden gems and wardrobe staples, and I think I've had enough success to give you a few tips.
Have a Game Plan
Without this step, you might as well not even leave the house. Never go shopping without having a general idea of what you're hoping to accomplish. Are you hoping to replace old, worn staples with fresher versions? Is getting that new, trendy piece part of your plan? Simply need some retail therapy? These are all good answers. If you give yourself an expectation of your shopping trip before you head out, there is less of a chance of you leaving empty-handed.
Thoroughness is Next to Godliness
This is my number one reason for success when I go shopping. I scour every. single. rack. Yes - every one. Even if it doesn't seem like the clothes hanging on it are my style, I'll go through them to see if I was missing any details. Often, some of the best finds are hidden behind the featured pieces at the front of the rack. Perfect basics, simpler structures and neutral colors tend to be given the backseat to the most "exciting" inventory. Take the time to strategically sift through each area of the store so that you aren't missing any special pieces. In large stores like Forever 21 and H&M this can be overwhelming, but oh so worth it.
As you're looking through endless clothing options, grab anything that remotely interests you. If it's in a color you like, grab it. If you think it could work for work or the weekend, add it to your pile. Think that pattern is pretty, but unsure about the silhouette? Grab it anyway. Remember: sizing matters so if something looks like it might be a little too big or small grab the next size too. You want to give yourself as many options as possible instead of shooting down a potentially great piece before giving it a chance.
Add One More... Then Try It On
Now that you have a stockpile of clothing that you were drawn to, look for something that you think is interesting or weird but that you would probably never wear. For example a blazer in a cowhide print or an oversize coat in a color that you typically avoid. Add that piece to your pile, then head to the dressing room.
The dressing room is hands-down the most important part of your shopping trip. It is where ruthless, final decisions are made.
In the dressing room, make three distinct piles. One is a "Yes" pile, one is a "Never" pile and one is an "I Like This" pile. As you try on each piece, choose its category off of your first instinct. When you've reached the end of your items, work through each piece in your "I Like This" pile to determine if it could fit into your daily life. Crop tops aren't a great purchase unless they're for a special occasion (uh... a concert? Maybe?). Meanwhile, a longline vest can be worn to work or out for drinks on the weekend, making it perfect for your wardrobe.
Don't try to rationalize a piece of clothing that doesn't fit correctly. If you think a top is cute for the office but it shows off your belly button whenever you lift your arms you should probably put it back. If you feel even a tad uncomfortable in a piece of clothing, don't buy it. That purchase will quickly become a regret as your new item sits in the back of your closet, waiting for the next cleanout.
Blame the Store
Leaving the dressing room without any purchases can be demoralizing, but fear not! Although this shopping trip may have been unsuccessful, there will be plenty more opportunities to augment your wardrobe. In a week, try again. Many fast fashion stores will have added new inventory for you to peruse through.
Shopping isn't fun for everyone, but with these tips, it can be productive and successful. You can feel confident heading into a store, knowing that you'll be able to find at least one thing to bring into the dressing room. Knowing that shopping isn't a way to measure your self-worth, or validate some aspect of your identity, is key. If you don't find anything that you like in a trip, the best thing to do is blame the store - not yourself. They're the ones who weren't successful this time, not you.
My Golden Rule: Get it in black.