I LOVE SHOPPING: IN FACT, IT’S PROBABLY NOT TOO MUCH OF AN EXAGGERATION TO DESCRIBE IT AS A ‘HOBBY’.
These days I tend to do most of my shopping online, but I still enjoy a good wander around the shops, too: here are some of the tips I’ve picked up from a lifetime of clothes shopping!
DRESS FOR SHOPPING SUCCESS
By this, I don’t mean you need to “dress up”, or wear something special – in fact, I’d specifically advise against that, because the very last thing you want is to spend your entire day struggling in and out of some elaborate outfit, which is only going to look worse as the shopping trip progresses. Instead, go for simple, comfortable pieces, that are easy to get in and out of, plus shoes you can walk for miles in: because, if you’re anything like me, you probably WILL be walking for miles…
When it comes to shopping, your underwear is actually far more important than what you wear on top: choose flesh-toned undies without too much embellishment, so they won’t create strange lumps and bumps underneath the clothes you try on with them. When you’re trying something on, and it doesn’t look quite right, it’s easy to convince yourself that it would look better with the right underwear (or, similarly, to be put off something just because you can’t see past that neon bra that’s showing up underneath it_ – so make sure you’re already wearing it, so you know for sure!
DON’T ASSUME YOU KNOW YOUR SIZE
Think you know what size you are? I wouldn’t be so sure, if I were you: sizes can differ wildly between brands (and even between different items from the same brand), and thanks to the prevalence of vanity sizing within the fashion industry, it can sometimes be impossible to know which size is really going to work best for you. The only way around this is to completely ignore the size on the label, take more than one item into the changing room, and buy the one that fits best – NOT the one that you think SHOULD fit.
SIT, STAND, MOVE AROUND
One mistake a lot of people make when they’re clothes shopping is to assume that if they can zip it up, it fits them. All that tells you, though, is that you can get into: you might look better and feel more comfortable in a different size, and you won’t know until you try them all one. You also won’t know if something REALLY fits you unless you move around in it: I see lots of women standing rigidly in fitting rooms, staring at themselves in mirrors with their arms held stiffly by their sides. I’ve never, however, seen anyone adopting that position in REAL life, so when you try on clothes, don’t just think about how they look when you’re standing still: instead, take a walk around the fitting room, sit down on one of the seats you’ll normally find there, try bending down to tie your shoe or pick up your handbag. Now look at the outfit again: is that dress now ruched up around your hips? Were the trousers so tight you couldn’t sit down in them? Then walk away, sister… (Er, after you’ve put your own clothes back on, obviously…)
CHECK HOW IT LOOKS FROM THE BACK
Those double-mirrors aren’t just there to make you feel hideous (although, in my case, they normally do that too): they’re there to let you see what the clothes you’re trying on look like from behind. A lot of people forget all about this, and I have to hold my hands up here, and admit that I’m one of them. I’m guilty of styling my hair at the front and neglecting the back, and of only bothering to check my reflection one way – which leads to some horrible moments when someone takes a photo of me from behind, and I get to see what I ACTUALLY look like! This, of course, would be avoided if I’d just checked that mirror – don’t be like me!
ALWAYS TAKE A LIST
I’m not suggesting here that you have to stick to it rigidly, and never depart from it, but I swear by making a shopping list, and keeping it on me at all times. Mine lives in the “notes” app on my phone, and is basically a rolling list of all of the “holes” in my closet, which I’m trying to fill. I don’t generally go shopping with the express purpose of tracking down all of those items, but if I find myself out somewhere near the shops, it’s handy to be able to remind myself of what I really need – which can help me avoid buying things “just for the sake of it”. Speaking of which…
DON’T BUY THINGS ‘JUST FOR THE SAKE OF IT’
Have you ever found yourself looking at something in a store, and thinking, “Well, I don’t really need it, but it’s on sale, and it might come in handy someday, so…”? My best advice is to not do that. Or to TRY not to, anyway. That doesn’t, of course, mean you can never buy anything on impulse, or just for fun: what it means is that, if you’re going to do that, make sure it IS “fun” – i.e. it should be something you pick up and think, “OMG, this is AWESOME!” not “Oh well, it might come in handy”. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve bought things on the basis that I MIGHT wear them one day, and you know what? I never have. And the money I’ve spent on those things would’ve been much better spent on something I REALLY wanted, wouldn’t it? So, don’t tell yourself that everything you buy has to be absolutely PERFECT (that’s not a sound strategy either, because it means you’ll end up having to walk around naked most of the time), but, at the same time, try not to settle for things that are “just OK” – you can do better than that.
AVOID EMOTIONAL SHOPPING
Have you ever heard people say that you shouldn’t go grocery shopping when you’re starving? It’s good advice, because when you go to the supermarket hungry, you end up buying ALL the things, don’t you? So it is with shopping: although in this case it’s emotional shopping you need to worry about, not hungry shopping. What do I mean by “emotional shopping”? Shopping when you’re angry. Shopping when you’re sad. Shopping when you’re tired and fed up, and just looking for a quick fix to cheer yourself up. Yes, shopping can do that, and I’m not totally opposed to the idea (I mean, sometimes a new pair of shoes can work wonders, right?), but emotional shopping can also lead to expensive mistakes, or purchases that aren’t really right for you, but which you bought because you just had to have SOMETHING. I know it can be easier said than done, but try to wait until you’re in a better frame of mind – that way you’ll (hopefully!) make better decisions.