Twelve Shopping Tips From An Expert (yours truly)
It is no secret that Fashion (yes, capital letter and all) has been one of my passions since I was a little girl. I remember from a very, very young age noticing different types of fabrics, observing the trends, and even playing to be a fashion designer. My friend Arianna and I had our own line of clothing. We would draw fashion sketches and then tried to replicate them for our Barbie dolls. My line was called Marselle (how did I come up with that name? Wow, nine-year-old me, super creative…). I also loved going to my cousins’ house because my aunt was a fashionista and she had piles and piles of Vogue and Bazaar magazines, plus she’d let my cousins dress up with the latest trends for kids: jellies, neon shirts, gummies bracelets, black leggings, again, black leggings!!! While I was dressed by what my mother had shopped for me: smocked dresses, pink pants, patent mary janes and lame pastel cardigans.
So when I went to their house, I got to borrow their cool clothes. It wasn’t until the summer of 1989 when I was twelve and went to summer camp in Boston and my mom packed for me… Yes. My. Mom. Lame pastel sweater alert! Thank goodness I had to wear a uniform, but I was dreading the free-dress day, panicking over what I would wear. If you could only see my options… Calling on social suicide! I ended up borrowing clothes from friends and then I began a countdown until the glorious day in which they took us to the Mall. It was the first time that I’d shopped for myself without my parents editing my choices, and I remember the feeling to this day. Freedom. I remember the outfits, too! From that day on, I am proud to call myself an expert shopper, and I will give you 12 tips I’ve learned over time so you can become one.
Here we go…
1 Never, ever buy something if it doesn’t fit right. If you have to lose a couple pounds to wear this piece, then it is not the right one for you at this moment. Lose them and come back to get it. If you think that having that piece staring at you hanging in your closet will make you lose those extra pounds, think twice. The truth is that it will generate guilt and guilt leads to overeating. Very counterproductive. Unless you are a very, very disciplined person, but in that case, leave it at the store and come back after you’ve lost the weight or, better yet, try the next size up, and if it looks good, just buy it and leave the pressure of a number behind.
2. Do not invest in super fashionable trends. Those trends (i.e. velvet, pajama pantsuits, one-shoulder dresses or tops) are most likely to pass faster that they came out. The best places to shop these are inexpensive stores like Zara, H & M, and even Forever 21.
3. Do invest in pieces that will always be in fashion: leather pants, a good bag that can go with everything (Balenciaga, Celine, Chloe, and Chanel are my favorites), a leather jacket (look at the pic above), cashmere sweaters, a black or navy blazer, a black or camel coat, and, of course, shoes (black pumps, boots and booties). Exhibit A: the leather jacket that I am wearing in the picture below, I bought it years ago, it was kind of pricey, but I’ve used up every penny it cost. I wear it with dresses, over a simple t-shirt, with a blouse, even with sweatpants. It has aged so well, and it will never be out of fashion. Worth every penny!
4. Say no to “uniforms” or looking like a catalog. Mix and match. Don’t marry a brand, a color, or a trend. Use your imagination and creativity. Do not buy the same outfit over and over. Need ideas? Follow fashion bloggers on Instagram, Pinterest, and Whilo. Follow my Pinterest and my Whilo lists while you’re at it.
5. Create wishlists online, this will prevent impulse shopping. How? When you put items in your shopping cart or on your wishlist without buying them, psychologically you ease that urge to shop, and when you’ve cooled down you can always go back and evaluate if you really want/need, and love those items.
6. Buy things that have 3 buddies in your closet. When you try on something think if you already have shoes to go with, what and when you’ll wear it and VERY important: if you already have a similar (or identical) item go back to “do not buy uniforms” in tip #4.
7. If you’re shopping online, and the model doesn’t look good on what you’re thinking of buying, well, draw your own conclusions.
8. Another one for online shoppers, if something is on sale and reduced further and, on top of it all, it is available in every size… Again, draw your own conclusions. There is a reason why it hasn’t sold out. Ask me how I know this.
9. Be a conscious shopper: do not overflow your closet with things you’ll be packing for Goodwill or consignment later, buy only what you love. Read #10 and #11.
10. When shopping an expensive item, but not sure about it, think: “If I saw this at Target, will I still buy it?”. If the answer is yes, then you have a winner, if you’re only buying it because of its brand or the store where you’re at, then it’s not for you. Leave it before you regret it.
11. On the other hand, when you’re in doubt about buying an item that is on sale but you’re not sure, think: “If this were full price, would I still buy it?”
12. This tip I learned from Marie Kondo’s book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing: only buy items that spark joy. We all make mistakes, we’ve all bought that dress that doesn’t fit quite well, those hideous shoes, those “I will wear this as soon as” pants, but these do not have to live in your closet taking up space and preventing good energy to flow. When you’re cleaning up your closet, thank those items for the lesson you learned and toss them. Donate them, consign them, but do not keep them. Keep your closet happy, this will keep you happy, too.