If you are subscribed to my Facebook Page then you know that I ask a style-related question to the group every night. After years of doing this, a great community has been created. One thing I will say, the women (and a few men) are incredibly well mannered and everyone is respectful and gets along. A few weeks ago I asked, “If you had to guess why you make mistakes when shopping, what would those mistakes be?”
The answers were great and, even better, someone asked if I would do a post on how to avoid these mistakes. What a great idea! I decided to gather together some of the answers given and provide some advice. Give the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale opens to the public this week (check out my picks and more shopping tips here), this post is also very timely.
Common Mistakes When Shopping for Clothes and How
to Solve Them
Can you relate to any of these?
Shopping Mistake #1- Not being clear on style and
lifestyle/Not being realistic
As one subscriber said, she suffers from the, “ooh, pretty!” problem of being lured in by something that catches the eye. With the level of over-merchandising and sameness that is going on in most retailers these days, it’s hardly surprising that women get woken out of their overwhelm by something that stands out.
The simplest tip I can give you is to realistically ask yourself where you would wear the item you are drawn to by asking, “Where am I going in this?” and second, to ask yourself if you already own something that serves the same function. If you do, ask yourself if you really need a second (blank) or if you would be willing to part with the piece you already own for this new one.
Next, you need to take an honest inventory of your life. For example, I own one pair of nude suede pumps. This is my only pair of heels and, really, the only pair I need. Sure, I would love to have more, but my lifestyle just doesn’t call for them. As tough as it can be to accept that I need to spend more time around the comfort area of the shoe department, it would be much harder to accept that I have nowhere to wear a closet full of pretty pumps.
Shopping Mistake #2- Impulse Control
Strangely, impulse control was the most popular answer I received from my subscribers. It’s not that much different than not being realistic or “wishful wardrobing,” as I like to call it. Yet, these impulses, or inability to resist temptation or urges, can be caused by other things. For some, it’s the need to acquire, lacking the ability to think beyond the current moment or by using shopping as a crutch to avoid dealing with bigger issues.
If you are an impulse shopper, save your receipts! I don’t want to encourage being impulsive, but I also understand that, for some, being impulsive can be hard to overcome. If impulse control is hard for you, and you find yourself acquiring things you don’t need, take a moment after you have returned home to assess instead of doing it at the store where it can be noisy, you might be tired, your defenses might be down or you’re swept up in the moment. Go through every piece with a clear head and decide what can stay and what can go. Make a deal that nothing you buy stays in the shopping bags once you get home and nothing goes into the closet without asking yourself these questions:
- Why did I buy this? Do I really need it?
- Where will I wear this?
- Do I have something in my closet that functions similarly already?
- If I return this, how I can be more productive with the money I get back?
- What is the benefit if this piece stays? What is the benefit if I return it?
Also consider walking away. It’s a tried and true tip that works. Take 24 hours to decide if you really need something and go back if you do. If it is gone it just wasn’t meant to be. Learning to live with this can be a helpful thing for impulse shoppers to learn.
Shopping Mistake #3- Shopping when tired, hungry,
moody or in a hurry
While I spend a lot of time in stores, it’s never for me. When I do finally get a chance to do some shopping for myself it’s usually at the end of the long workday when I am tired and hungry and completely sick of looking at clothing. However, I usually power through because the last thing I want do do is go back to a store when I don’t need to be there. Thankfully, I can often zip right through because I have already perused the merchandise many times over. Despite this, it’s not an ideal way to shop, but being tired, hungry and in a hurry is how most women do it.
I could tell you to set aside time for shopping. But I won’t, because it’s likely not realistic. The only women who do this are my clients and they also have the luxury of me pulling ahead of time. However, what I will suggest is that you do some reconnaissance work before you go to the stores. Get online and look at what the stores are selling, know what you are looking for and know the brands that work for you. Next, pull multiple sizes in the dressing room so you don’t have to exhaust yourself by going go back out after you have gotten undressed. Load up your arms with options, don’t just bring a few items in. Shopping is often a numbers game and the more you try the better your chances. Lastly, have a snack in your bag. Lord knows this has saved me on many marathon shopping trips with clients.
Shopping Mistake #4- Waiting for perfection
I was surprised to read how many women said they were waiting around for the perfect (blank). Think of shopping like dating. Sure, you may be looking for the perfect little black dress, like the perfect marry-able man, but until you find it there may be some other styles out there that you can try and wear, just like playing the field. And, who knows? Maybe that piece you hardly considered a serious contender will wind up being the perfect piece. Don’t be a myopic shopper who shops the stores with blinders on. There is a good chance there is a whole store full of perfect things that you are missing out on because you have become obsessed with something you “think” will be perfect.
Perfection is really just the fear of failure and can be so paralyzing. Perfection can also be a huge buzzkill that keeps out the fun and joy. Remember, we’re talking about clothes here, not curing cancer. Should finding the perfect whatever really take up that much of your brain? Hardly. Keep your “hope to finds” on your list, but know that, in the meantime, you can find a lot of wonderful other things to wear too.
Shopping Mistake #5- Settling for what doesn’t work
On the opposite end of the spectrum of waiting for perfection, there are those who settle for things they don’t love, enjoy wearing or even think look all that great. There is a difference between being realistic (i.e. I will never look like a supermodel in my clothes) and being willing to accept mediocrity.
Settling can also come from not giving yourself enough time to shop, feeling like all your options are bad ones, shopping at the wrong stores or choosing the wrong labels. While settling may seem unavoidable, my job proves that it isn’t. If I can shop for all different types of women with different lifestyles, body shapes and budgets and be successful, I am 100% sure the right items are also out there for you. Insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result. If you constantly feel like you are settling, it might be time to reassess where you are shopping, what you are choosing and whose clothes you are buying.
Shopping Mistake #6- Choosing quantity over quality
When clients shop with me they typically buy more than they would without me. While I think I am pretty good at what I do, I have come to believe that when women feel confident about what they are buying they feel better about parting with their money. I think many women want to spend more and buy less but are reluctant to because forgiving oneself over wasting $50 is far easier than forgiving oneself for wasting $500.
The problem is that, while they seem like nothing, over time, those cheap mistakes add up and all that money could have been spent on something more expensive that is actually useful. If you have found yourself falling into the trap of quantity over quality, ask yourself if it has something to do with the fear of spending too much on regretful purchases.
Shopping Mistake #7- Judging something on the hanger
Last year I was shopping for pants. I found this amazing pair from Theory in burgundy. Seeing that I don’t wear black, I was thrilled to find these. When I noticed the pleats, however, I was ready to put them back. I decided to try them anyway and was thrilled that I did because they wound looking amazing. So, you see, even I have fallen into the trap of almost walking away from something because it looked weird on the hanger.
One of the reasons I am successful with my clients is that they don’t get a say so in what they try on. Of course, if they tell me they are allergic to a fiber or will not wear a certain color, for example, I won’t force them to. But if it is on the rack of pulls, they try it on. If it winds up being a disaster we laugh and move on. However, more often than not, a client comments that most things they fell in love with they never would have tried.
If you have been making fashion mistakes or have been struggling with your style, are you really in a position to confidently pass something by on the rack knowing that it won’t work? And what harm will come from trying it and having it fail? Who cares? You’re in a dressing room, you’ll get a good laugh, OR, you might be surprised. There really is no way to know until you try it.
Let’s keep the conversation going! What fashion mistakes have you been making? Have you done anything to change them? Do you still need some help? I would love to hear from you!
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I know I am guilty of quite a few of those. Trying to move more into quality over quantity has been an interesting process and I am much more careful with what I buy because as you say an expensive pair of pants that don’t get worn hurts a lot more! I found it hardest to know which shops to start looking in to find the more quality items … I am still getting my head around that!
I may be wrong, but I think the message is that $50 spent on something you never wear ends up costing more than $500 spent on something you love and wear regularly.
It definitely means that. But what it also means is if you felt more confident about your purchases parting with money would be far less difficult because you would know you would wear it.
“One in, one out” has saved me from a few unneeded purchases. I’ll find something I like but am not willing to give up what it would replace, so the new item has to stay at the store. This past year I was downsizing for a giant life style change and it was “zero in and a whole bunch out” until I could fit my wardrobe into my closet in my new much smaller home.
I’m still buying very little as I’ve put on a few lb. and just bought a few pair of pants to dress my changing body. I’ve come to realize I need to dress the body I have, not the body I want. And honestly, even when I’m back down to my ideal weight, I really don’t need anything … except the perfect leopard print scarf. I know it’s out there…
Perhaps the most valuable shopping advice I’ve ever found was in the video you made with your mother. Preshop and Pretry are the watchwords of my circle of friends and I’m teaching it to the 20 somethings I work with who are nurses who have LOTS of disposable income.
Thank you Liz and Bridgette!