Don’t we all like to have a splurge on the High Street and come home after a hard day’s shopping laden down with multiple carrier bags? But the trouble with this type of clothes shopping is that you are going to waste money on clothes you will probably never wear. So however boring the idea of planning ahead maybe for some of you, having set up a strategy before you even set foot in a shop will ensure that you only choose great pieces that really suit you and that you will wear and wear.
Work Out What Suits You – don’t even think about a shopping trip before you have worked out what suits you. You need to know your body shape and which colours suit your complexion. Then you need to be ruthless in only trying on those styles that you know will flatter you. However adorable that fluffy pink cropped jumper looked on the model in the magazine, don’t buy it unless you are sure it really suits you and goes with the other pieces in your wardrobe. If you find a style that looks great on you stick with it, a lot of famous women who were known for their fashion sense actually only wore a very narrow choice of different styles. They knew what suited them and kept to it – think Jackie O and all the different sheath dresses she wore. If you do find a piece that is especially flattering, consider buying multiples in different colours. If you are not sure how to put together a great outfit that is really flattering, consider signing up for a course like our TLAFS ‘Introduction to Personal Styling Course’ or booking a consultation and shopping trip with a personal fashion stylist
Set a Budget – work out how much you have to spend before you go shopping and stick to it. This way it will be much easier to avoid looking at pieces that are too expensive. Also, do yourself a favour and do not be tempted to try on something that you know is a real budget buster. You will only make yourself miserable if it does look fabulous and you will then compare it with the garments you can afford, making you feel really resentful. Or you will buy that really expensive dress or luxuriously soft pair of leather boots and either end up bringing them back a week later or having to live on soup and crackers for months.
Wardrobe Audit – it really is a good idea before you go on a major clothes shopping spree, to go through your wardrobe to see what you already have. Don’t buy anything new until you have cleared out anything you haven’t worn for a long time or you know does not suit you. Many of us have a tendency to hoard clothes, thinking that the occasion will come around that will be perfect for that raspberry polka dot top, that we’ll lose the weight or we will wake up one day and find that colour now really does suit us. Also if you keep too much in your wardrobe or in your drawers, you will have difficulty finding things. Who hasn’t unearthed a shirt or jumper that they had forgotten all about when they do a tidy up. Once you have done an audit, only then assess what you need to go with the garments you already have. If you come out in hives when you hear the term ‘capsule wardrobe’, really look at each garment you currently own and think of how often you wear it. It is better to buy fewer better quality pieces, than have a jumble of cheaper clothes you rarely wear.
Make a List – now this might feel like you are going to the supermarket, but once you have done your wardrobe audit, draw up a list of what you are intending to buy and stick to it. Marry your list up to your budget and be realistic. After all are you really likely to get a pair of boots, a cardigan and a skirt for £75? If your list and budget do not marry up, then prioritise as to which garments you need the most.
Wear the Right Underwear and Shoes – when you go shopping, especially if you are buying a dress for a special occasion, put on the underwear that you will actually be wearing with the dress, such as the right bra or slimming underwear. Also wear or bring along the right height shoes and put on makeup and style your hair the way you are planning to wear it at the event.
Are You Prepared to Care for the Garment? – I think we all have a silk blouse or cashmere jumper that spends most of its life in the laundry hamper because we never get around to having it dry cleaned or hand washing it. Before you buy any garment, consider if you have the time to hand wash a delicate fabric or can afford to or will get around to taking it to the dry cleaners. The same goes if you are not into ironing. Avoid linen and heavy cottons, however much you love them, if you know you will not iron them properly
Check the View From Every Angle – you may hate changing rooms and trying on clothes, but unless you take the time to try a garment on and view what it looks like from every angle, you may end up making an expensive mistake. Check what it looks like from behind or take a friend you trust to tell you the truth. Sit down, bend your knees and raise your arms above your head to check that the garment moves with you and is not going to be too uncomfortable. Remember tight is not classy and you really won’t wear that dress or pair of trousers again if the garment chafes or you can’t move freely.
Check the Garment’s Finish – especially if the piece you are thinking of purchasing is expensive, you need to check the finish carefully. How well does the garment hang, does the fabric feel the right weight, softness and quality? How well have the seams been sewn? How well has the lining been stitched in and is the lining material good quality? Also are the buttons, zips and other decorative features well made and securely sewn on? If you love a jacket or coat but think the buttons look cheap, consider buying some better buttons at a haberdasher and sewing them on.
Don’t Get Seduced by the Sales – who hasn’t gotten carried away and bagged a bargain that never sees the light of day, remaining in the carrier bag at the bottom of the wardrobe until you shuffle it off to the charity shop or sell it on eBay? Just because a dress or jumper by your favourite designer has been reduced by 75% doesn’t mean it will suit you or fit in with the rest of your wardrobe. Nothing is a bargain if you never wear it or have to buy new underwear or a new pair of shoes before you can wear it.
So plan before you shop and then you will only bring home clothes that suit you, fit you and go with what else is in your wardrobe. If you are going to be impulsive and splurge, do it on colourful accessories and jewelry that need not cost a lot. Invest your serious fashion budget on key pieces that will last you several seasons and don’t let yourself be seduced by that latest fashion trend or designer bargain that you will get little wear out of.
Alison Sweeney red dress image Wikimedia Commons Public Domain