PersonalShopper2If you need some help shopping for clothes but can’t afford to hire a personal shopper or consultant, the following tips may help you be more effective with your trips.

Many see hiring a personal shopper or a style consultant like myself to shop for them and revamp their style to be a luxury.  While I can argue all the reasons why working with someone will ultimately save you time and money, I also appreciate that, in this economy hiring a stylist is a luxury that many don’t have today.  One of the intentions of this blog is to empower everyone who reads it the ability to have success with their style with our without my help.  So, I am going to give you some of my simple secrets about how you can be your own personal shopper.

Get into your closet for a review

First of all, I never shop with a client before meeting them and seeing what is going on in their closet.  It just doesn’t make any sense to load up the closet with more stuff without knowing what our starting point is.  So, unless you’ve just been through your closet with a fine tooth-comb, I suggest you get in there first.  Get rid of things; figure out what can possibly be saved with tailoring and what you can keep.  It’s hard to clean out a closet without an objective eye so if you can’t hire someone to help you do this, invite a friend who you know is ruthless.  Perhaps, someone whose style you admire or seem to at least have a better handle on things than you do.

Get to know YOU

The next step is to get to know you.  This, again, is a tough job without the added assistance of objectivity.   I really do feel like I know my clients better than myself because it is impossible to have total objectivity when working on you.   However, the best way to get close to what makes you tick is to shut down.  We have too many distractions today and outside sources telling us how we should look, fashion tips and trends from all different sources to confuse and other people on the street that seem to look so much better than we do, not to mention our own psychological issues of our image swirling around in our twisted heads. So, stop for a second, just stop and take a listen within.  Beneath the noise, the current fashion trends, celebrity fashion and the better-dressed people drowning out your thoughts is your style waiting to be discovered.   LISTEN and look around.  What calls to you?  What do you find YOU’RE drawn to?  Who do you admire?  Why?  What colors could you live in?  All of these things are telling you what you’re style is.  The biggest issue I find with my clients is that they don’t trust their own instincts.  If they did their personal style would be a lot easier for them to identify. Next, it’s about knowing what style suits your body best.

Load up the Dressing Room

 When we work with clients we pre-shop for them.  So, basically, the day before an appointment we pull everything we like from the store, leave with our salesperson and have the rack waiting for us when the client comes to their appointment the next day.  All the client needs to do is get undressed and start trying on.  Not having me, this is a luxury you don’t have.  However, you can do something similar. 

Personal Shopper It may feel a little embarrassing at first but I want you to load up that dressing room.  The weirdest thing I see is someone go into a dressing room with one item.  What a waste of time!  Unless you’re just browsing (which I’ve got better things to do than browse aimlessly in a store), be productive and load that dressing room up.  Don’t worry if people think you’re some sort of weirdo with an armful of clothing.  Once a salesperson sees you hijacking most of the store they may ask you for help.  If they don’t, ask one of the salespeople if they can start a room for you.   Go through every rack you can manage, pull everything and anything that seems to resonate with you, don’t think, pull!   How do you know if it is resonating with you?  If you stop and can envision yourself wearing something (even if it is in a fantasy vision, pull it.  You never know.)   If you’re unclear about your size, pull the size you think you are and the next size up and/or down.  If you’re looking for something, like a black pair of pants, pull from more than one designer; you never know which will fit.  Pull, pull, pull and load up the dressing room!

Shop Without Distractions

Personal Shopper 3For most of you, this may be your one chance to get to the store, don’t waste the opportunity…oh and don’t bring the kids. Once the dressing room is loaded up, get in there and start trying on.   The worst is shopping with tons of layers and shoes that have to lace up.  If you are planning a shopping trip be certain your shoes easily slip off and you can get in and out of your clothes quickly.  This will save you tremendous time and frustration.  Remember your proper undergarments, especially if you are shopping for a specific item like a cocktail dress.   The proper lingerie will make all the difference in the fit of a garment.  Also, if you’re buying pants that will require a hem and you know you will want the store to alter for you, bring a pair of shoes that best represent the heel height you most often wear.

How to Handle the Dressing Room

The first thing you are going to once you are ready to try on is eliminate.  Try on everything. What will surprise you most is how much merchandise you need to pull into a dressing room just to find a few winners.  This first pass will be done very quickly and you want to get the duds out of the dressing room immediately to avoid confusion.  What I like to do is hang the discards right outside the dressing room, either on the door or a hook nearby so the salesperson has a reason to come around and take things away…and also ask if they can.

When starting this first pass, I always suggest that you start with pants.  For most people, pants are the hardest to fit.  You need all the energy you can muster to get through those.   If pants aren’t your hardest item to try on (thank your lucky stars) and start with what is. If you get discouraged, don’t give up.  One of the biggest roles I play when shopping with clients is to blockade the door so they won’t run out screaming with frustration.  You can’t leave until you get through everything.   Promise?

Edit, Edit, Edit!

Personal Shopper 5After you finish your first pass, it’s time to look at what you have left.  This is when you start your edit.  You may have two things or you may have 13 things.  Whatever the amount, it is important to view everything that is still hanging there and decide if you need to own it.  Case in point: You may have three things hanging there that are contenders, however, two of those items may have so much duplication that you need to decide which one is best.  This we call a luxury problem, by the way. Try the remaining items on again.  Look at them closely.  Do you have anything at home to wear with it or do you need to find something at the store that would work?   What shoes will you wear?  Do you own them or does this get added to your shopping list?  How will you be accessorizing?  Is this a staple piece; will you wear it often making it worth the price tag?  Or is it trendy and something that you’ll discard after one season?  These are the types of questions you need to ask yourself so you don’t take home an orphan piece that may look lovely but will just hang there and leave you with feelings of guilt and regret.  You want to look at what you add to your closet comprehensively instead of in a singular manner.  Everything you purchase should support the whole to ensure that you can get maximize use.

How to Handle Your Purchases Once You Get Home

Once you get home, instead of just loading your new purchases in your closet, play with them.  You need to integrate your new with the old.  Taking the time to do this not only helps you create outfits, but it helps you get a clear idea of the holes that still need to be filled.  Perhaps, with a new purchase you are able to put a whole new look together but notice that a pair of brown boots would really finish the look.  Add this to your shopping list, a list that you will keep with you at all times.  Be effective; manage your wardrobe like you would your checkbook, how you stock your kitchen with food or how you inventory your DVD collection, for example.  It shouldn’t be random, it should be purposeful.

Keep a Record

Lastly, record your outfits.  Either take some photos or keep a list.  This is something we offer all our clients when we put outfits together.  You have enough to remember, the last thing you should have to keep in your head is that great outfit you came up with.  Get that friend with the fashion sense and objective eye in there.  You’d be surprised what sort of fashion tips and style advice a friend may come with using your current wardrobe. I hope these little tips help with your next shopping trip and make you a better personal shopper for yourself!