Going clothes shopping can be a total disaster. What was intended to be a fun and productive day can quickly turn into a frustrating mess. You could wind up blowing a lot more money than you intended, you might come home with bags full of stuff that you won’t wear, or you could just get tired and flustered and come home with nothing at all. Never fear! By following this tried and true shopping plan, I assure you that your shopping trips will be more pleasant, more productive and more friendly to your wallet.
Before you leave home, you will need to do some planning. If you are shopping for something in particular, you will need to have a clear idea of what it is that you are looking for. For example, if you need a dress for a formal event, write yourself a little note like this:
“ Need a fancy dress that:
– is knee length or longer
– Has skinny shoulder straps.
– Has a full skirt and a bustier top
– is pink, blue, green or red”
Decide what you want before you leave home. This will help you to sort through the options quickly once you get into the store.
If you are shopping in more general terms, it still pays to think about what items you need. For example, if you are shopping for a new summer wardrobe, you might note that you want: ‘a range of colourful tee shirts and tank tops, cropped jeans, gladiator sandals, a gypsy skirt, several cute sundresses and a new sun-hat’. Look through magazines or blogs and be familiar with what is already in your wardrobe to give you some ideas as to what items you are looking for. If you have a shopping list, you are more likely to shop with purpose and less likely to make an expensive impulse purchase. Although it might take all your willpower, stick to your list.
Choose your shopping partner carefully. I don’t really like to go shopping alone, as I think it really pays to have somebody to bounce ideas off. Pick a partner who:
– Is honest with you about which items suit you and which don’t.
– Is sensible with money, and won’t encourage you to blow your cash on silly purchases.
– Has stamina and isn’t likely to get stroppy by the end of the day
– Is lots of fun
– Understands your style and won’t try to talk you into items that you aren’t happy with.
Set yourself a budget. Work out exactly how much you are willing to spend on the day. The day before your shopping trip, draw your budget out of your bank account in cash. Leave credit cards and debit cards at home, so that you won’t be tempted to overspend.
On the day of your shopping trip, plan your outfit carefully. Don’t wear anything that is too fiddly or has lots of buttons or clasps to do up. If you are going to be trying on clothing all day, you don’t want to be having to lace up a corset every twenty minutes. I usually go for a lightweight dress, or jeans and a tee shirt. Wear comfortable shoes that are easy to slip on and off. Also, go easy on the makeup. You don’t want to wind up paying for a dress that you don’t want because it’s smeared with your foundation.
What you take on your shopping trip is essential. Pack light, but make sure that you have all the essentials including:
– a notepad and pen
– mobile phone
– bottle of water
The morning of your shopping trip, make sure that you eat a really good breakfast that will give you the energy you will need for the day ahead. Try something that has slow-release energy and protein to keep you feeling full for longer. My breakfast of choice? Two poached eggs with spinach on multi grain toast with a cup of tea.
When you have reached your shopping destination, take the time to look carefully through each shop and select any garments that might be appropriate. Always try everything on. In the fitting room, put the garment on and then do the bend-and-stretch test. This is hard in a confined space, but twist around, bend down and wiggle about. See if the garment is too tight or too loose. Pay attention to the movement of the garment. Walk out of the fitting room and show your accomplice to get their seal of approval. Also, check the fit of the item in one of the mirrors in the store, not just in the fitting room. Often, fitting rooms are too narrow for you to get any real perspective on how the garment looks. Once you have taken the item off, check it carefully for any flaws, stains or imperfections. If you decide to buy the garment, use these to haggle the price down. Missing buttons can be sewn back on, hems can be mended and most stains can be removed.
When you find an item that is on your list, fits well and looks good, make a note of it on your notepad. Write a brief description of the item, as well as the price and the store in which you found it. Then, ask the shop assistant if they can hold the item for you. If they can’t, don’t panic. Just put it back on the shelf and walk away. You need to assess all the options at your disposal before you spend a single cent. If you buy everything you like as soon as you see it, you run the risk of blowing all your cash early on things you don’t really need, or finding a better item or a better price later in the day.
Once you have been to all the stores you wanted to visit, find a quiet café or restaurant and order lunch. While you enjoy your meal, go back over the list you have made of all your potential purchases. Scrutinize each item, and wok out which items you liked best, and which combination of items gives you the best value. Then, after lunch, go back to each store and buy the items that you have settled on.
Before you buy an item, ask yourself the following questions:
– What else do I already own that I could wear this with?
– Will this item open up new outfit possibilities for me?
– Is this item suitable for the purpose I have in mind?
– Is this item fairly priced considering it’s quality/ durability?
– Am I 100% happy with how this item looked?
– Was this item comfortable?
When you are satisfied with the answer to each of these questions, you can purchase the item with the confidence that you have chosen well.
Here are a few extra tips that I have compiled over years of shopping:
– If you are shopping for shoes, do all your trying on early in the day. If you are walking about, your feet will swell and you will wind up buying shoes that are too loose.
– If you try on a pair of jeans that are a smidgen too tight, you have selected the right size. Denim stretches with wear, and if your jeans are a little snug to begin with, after a couple of wears they will mould to the contours of your body and become super-comfy. If you put a pair of jeans on and you feel like your insides are being squeezed out like a tube of toothpaste, they are too small.
– If hemlines are too long, consider having pants or skirts altered once you get the item home. Alterations are fairly reasonably priced and will give you a garment that is a perfect fit.
– Don’t buy items that are too small in the hope that you will lose weight and fit into them. Having a closet full of too-small outfits won’t motivate you to lose weight, it will just make you feel crappy about yourself. Treat yourself to some new gear once you have lost the weight, and in the meantime, just be happy with yourself as you are.
– Don’t be tempted to buy something just because it’s cheap. It’s not a bargain unless you buy something you really want and that you will wear.
– Don’t let salesgirls talk you into buying something you hate. If you love a garment, but are scared that the item you have picked is too daring, let them give you a little nudge. Don’t be afraid to try new things but don’t be bullied into spending your money on an item you are less than fond of.
– Take breaks if you are feeling tired. Remember to stay hydrated and don’t get too hungry.
Plan ahead, think things through and be smart when shopping and I assure you that you will come home with bags full of items that you love, that go with the rest of your wardrobe, and that haven’t drained your bank account.