Shopping for clothes. Sounds pretty simple and straightforward – it’s anything but. For some, it’s a pleasant outing, a leisurely tour of the mall, a stop for lunch, a casual afternoon of browsing and relaxation. But for many of us, it’s stressful, fraught with tension and misgivings, paved with hesitation and uncertainty, and crammed with obstacles. Some of us will do anything to avoid shopping.
I had a friend back in the ’80s (we’ll call her Bev – she knows who she is!), who hated shopping for clothes. She’d race around frantically for an hour or so, with no clue what to buy, and return with a few bags of randomly grabbed blouses and skirts, and a severe case of hypertension. She had no style blueprint… and back then, neither did I. But her panic inspired me to come up with a style blueprint method (and to find her a personal shopper).
So, Bev, if you’re out there reading this post: Strategic Shopping Techniques was written with you in mind! (Oh, and I hope you finally returned that parrot-green watered silk blouse.)
Practice Strategic Shopping Techniques.
Strategic Shopping is intentional, objective, planned, precise, controlled, budgeted, disciplined, and highly effective.
- Set out with a clear idea of what you are going to buy.
Allocate a set amount of time to find that item.
Go to a store that is likely have the item. If you don’t find the item, don’t linger. Go elsewhere.
If you do find the item, you look at the item’s color in natural light.
Try on the item in a well-lit fitting room (or check the return policy for the online store where you’re buying the item).
If it fits, AND it fits your style blueprint, buy it and leave.
Let me repeat that: You Leave.
Less is Less.
Would you buy 14 bathroom mirrors for your newly constructed two-bath house? No? Would you buy 14 identical jackets? Even if they were ON SALE?
Banish the term ON SALE from your vocabulary. Now. Here’s why.
When we hear ON SALE, the logical side of our brains starts to shut down, and the emotional side goes into overdrive. Objectivity goes out the window. We start hauling out credit cards and piling on debt, buying more than we had planned to buy – until we hit a load limiter. Either we run out of strength to carry the bags, or credit to carry the debt. In order to practice Strategic Shopping, we need to retrain our brains to use the logical side. Shop when it is time to get something specific, not because something you may not need is ON SALE.
Bargains aren’t Bargains if They Can’t Be Used
As tempting as it might be to get that lime green scarf with the bright yellow border – if an accessory doesn’t fit your style blueprint, it will probably sit in a drawer. That’s $39.95 to spend on something that will actually be used.
Don’t Shop; Invest.
Would you buy one $250 jacket that fits perfectly, in the perfect color and shape to fit your body type or would you buy ten $25 jackets that will cost double the cost to tailor, wear out twice as fast, don’t fit within your style blueprint, are ‘close’ to the right color, would work if that self-belt were removed, would work better if the buttons were swapped out? Which side of your brain provided your answer – the logical or the emotional?
Get a Grip on Why You Shop.
People who shop to cure unhappiness pay more at the checkout counter than those who practice Strategic Shopping techniques. They select items emotionally instead of logically. They seek to soothe unhappiness through the process of the purchase. When it doesn’t work – when they get home and find they have brought home stuff that doesn’t fit in their wardrobe, they go buy something else.
Develop Your Zen for When.
Shop for shoes in the late afternoon when your feet feel at their worst.
When the weather cools down, shop for warm weather items – activewear, fitness and sports outfits, swimsuits, beachwear, coverups.
Retailers will start pulling summer attire from the racks to make room for winter apparel. Time your purchases to catch the seasonal swing points.
When the weather starts to warm up, shop for outerwear – coats, parkas, winter jackets.
When in Doubt, Don’t.
Red blouse? Blue blouse? Red blouse? Blue blouse?? The answer is: Neither. If you’re asking that question, go back to your style blueprint notes, identify what is missing – then go buy just that.
Strategic Shopping Not Sounding Like Fun?
Well, is it fun to stand in front of a closet so jam-packed with random mismatched stuff that you can’t find anything? Enjoy the feeling that you haven’t got a thing to wear? Get the feeling that you’ve over-spent your clothes budget but just don’t know how to get it under control?
Shop for Someone Else
If Strategic Shopping seems daunting, team up with someone and shop for each other. It can be easier to help someone make decisions – and it’s good practice for making your own.