I hate to tell you to stop shopping. It totally goes against everything I stand for as a stylist. I mean, I love shopping. It’s kind of my thing. It’s one of the ways my mom and I bonded, and one of the ways I bond with my own daughters.
But even though I am on team-shopping, I know that it’s not the solution to all of your wardrobe woes.
Hear me out.
The key to transforming your style and creating a wardrobe that you love is not to shop more, but to shop better. It’s about pressing pause on impulse shopping and being intentional so that you don’t continue to muddle through with a closet full of compromises.
Here, how to shop better, and how to stop buying the wrong clothes.
Don’t Shop Under Duress
One of the reasons we end up with so many so-so items in our wardrobes is that we shop when we are rushed, stressed, or desperate. And nothing good comes out of shopping under pressure. When you’re faced with a looming event, whether that’s a wedding or a cocktail party, a job interview or a trip, you are tempted to buy something, anything, because you can’t go to __________________ naked.
I mean, you have to have clothes, right?
So here’s my suggestion. Depending on your lifestyle and life particulars, it helps to have something in your closet at all times that you can wear to any of the following scenarios:
- A wedding
- A funeral
- A cocktail party
- A girly event (baby shower, wedding shower, girls brunch)
- A job interview
- A pool party or barbecue
Like I said, this list will look different for everyone, but having these go-to outfits ready means that you never have to shop under duress.
Buy It When You See It, Not When You Need It
Closely related to the last tip, one way to avoid shopping under duress is to buy items when you find them, and not when you need them. If you find a fabulous cocktail dress on sale in your size in the off-season, grab it and save it for the next event. See your favorite brand of bathing suits on sale at the end of the summer? Buy it for next year.
Shopping can be unpredictable, and even basic items can be hard to find when you need them. Even the basics. You can spend hours trying to find a great pair of black pants, only to discover that pants are out of style and stores are only selling micro-minis.
I joke, but not really.
Over the past year, I have actually had a hard time finding black pants, or a black short-sleeve blouse, or a knee-length dress, for various clients. These sound like easy finds, but they’re not always readily available in stores. (Online does make it somewhat easier).
Making sure you’ are stocked in basics, and buying them when you find them, makes life so much easier.
Focus On Fit & Flattery
Your wardrobe won’t work if your clothes don’t fit. Period. It doesn’t matter how trendy or how expensive or how cheap or how well made or…. Nothing matters if the fit is off. Even choosing a flattering silhouette that works for your body type takes a backseat to choosing clothes that fit you well and look like they are tailor made to your body.
But finding clothes that fit off the rack is like looking for that proverbial needle in a haystack.
Most clothes won’t fit most of our bodies, because there are only 12 or so sizes in the world, according to clothing manufacturers, and just look around.
There are more than 12 bodies.
That’s why you should assume that many of your clothes will have to be altered.
It’s a pain. And an expense (although often less than we think). And allll the things. But unless we only order custom, it’s the only way to ensure a flattering fit.
(Note: Some brands offer alteration credits).
Start With The Essentials
I know I sound like a broken record, but if you don’t have the basics, you don’t have a wardrobe.
You just have a bunch of pieces that don’t go together.
Of course I think my essentials recommendations are the best. They’re the only essentials list categorized by decade. You’ll find something for every size, budget, and body type. And of course it’s free. Just click here for your copy.
Once more for those of you in the back. Don’t buy something unless you love it.
Isn’t life filled with enough compromises? I have already had to give up shortbread cookies and croissants and Coke. And we have to give up more as we get older.
But one thing we should never give up is buying clothes that we love. Regardless of your budget, you deserve to buy clothes that fit you well and make you feel lovely.
Being more intentional and more particular is one of the things that we can do better as we get older, so let’s hold ourselves to that higher standard.
3 Places, 3 Ways
The final point I want to make to encourage you to shop successfully is to consider the versatility of an item. Of course, special occasion items and some statement pieces won’t be the most versatile, and we know that when we buy them, but for most of your everyday clothing, ask yourself these questions:
Does it play well with others? Can I wear it with 3 or more items in my existing wardrobe?
Can I wear it anywhere? Does it work in 3 or more places/settings in my life?
If you can wear an item with 3 different things and to 3 different places (say, church and office and weekend) then it’s a winner for sure, but even checking some of these boxes means a more versatile choice.
And now I’d love to hear from you! What’s your biggest struggle when it comes to shopping? Let me know in the comments!