Friday, April 19, 2013

How to Shop

I talk to people all the time who tell me that shopping is a fun, peaceful activity for them. I used to have that feeling until I learned how to sew. Then I turned into my grandmother.

I would go around a store and pick up something I liked then put it down, and announce to whomever I was with, “No! I can make the same thing, but better.” This almost always resulted in me going home empty-handed and never actually making the thing I so adamantly proclaimed that I could. Grandma would be proud.

Even though my fashion design training can make for some irritating shopping trips, it has taught me some valuable skills when it comes to shopping. Here are some of my top tips:

Don’t overspend. This one is a no-brainer. I can understand wanting to spend $500 on a pair of stilettos. The fact is, past a certain price point, you are paying for a name and not quality. You'll be happier with a less expensive item.

How to shop? How do I shop for clothing? How do I shop for clothing that looks good on me? How do I shop for clothing in my budget? How do I know if something looks good on me?
No, really. I get it. It's cute and brightly colored. But, unless you're mega-rich, it's probably not worth being $500 poorer.
(Valentino Bow heel. Probably available at Nordstrom for more than you can ever afford)

For some people, collecting fine clothing can be like collecting fine art. There is nothing wrong with this, but there are definitely things that matter more in life that $500 can be applied to, like a few more pairs of shoes, or rent, or even providing clothing to those in need. Just some food for thought.

ALWAYS try clothing on, even if you know it’s your size. I can be very irritating to shop with because I will force people to try things on. The fact is, you will make one of two mistakes if you don’t try something on. You will either buy something you don’t like, or you won't buy something that was perfect. Often things will look better on a hanger than on you, or vice versa. You can save yourself a lot of hassle and a lot of money by just taking a few minutes to try something on.

Know your size, and know the designer’s interpretation of your size. Knowing your size is the easy part. As a guide, look at your favorite clothing in your wardrobe. Chances are if it is your favorite, it’s because it fits you the best. Check the size tags and remember them. Along with knowing how clothing should fit, that is a very good point to start from. (See rule #2)

Here are some of the most common fitting issues to look for.
(Picture by The Perfect Nose)

The hard part about this is understanding what the designer’s interpretation of your size. Every designer has preferences on how tight or loose a garment should be, and it has nothing to do with how well it fits. That’s why it’s best to just try things on to see if you like the way it fits.

Try a few of the same thing on in the same size. Especially when it comes to pants. This seems like a strange thing to do. However, when clothing is made in a factory, there are a lot of factors that can change the way an individual garment can fit: The fabric could have been cut funny; the seamstress could have sewn a little close to the seam line; the garment may have been steamed weird. Especially if you are trying on pants, which are the hardest to get the right fit on, try on a few pair in the same size. One pair is bound to fit better than another.

All Saints Jeans. For tips on how jeans should fit check this blog out.

Sleep on it. Once I took a trip to London and I saw the most beautiful necklace in a store on Portobello Road. It was a collar necklace that looked like it was woven out of gold. It was £80, and I thought it was too much money at the time (it would’ve been fine if I bought it). I thought about it all day, the rest of my trip, and I have been thinking about it ever since. I should’ve gone back to get it.

I made the same mistake on the same trip with these earrings in York, England.

I still think about these.

Luckily, I didn’t make the same mistake with this All Saints dress. I waited two or three weeks, and I got it on its final markdown in Edinburgh.

Background is from Amsterdam, dress is from Edinburgh.

The moral of the story is, if you aren’t sure if you should get it. Sleep on it for a while. If you’re still thinking about it well after leaving the store, go back and get it. It may even be on sale.

Quality over quantity. Almost always. Always look at the quality of the garment before you make a purchase decision. It might be cute now, but it won't be when you run it through the wash and its seams come undone. It’s almost always worth it when you spend a little more money on a higher-quality item than on buying a low-quality item.

Of course, if you want to buy something crazy trendy, it’s probably fine if you buy the cheap one. You won't be wearing it next season anyways.

In the great words of Robin Sparkles, “Let’s go to the mall!”

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  1. What amazing shoes!
    PS: I would like to invite you for my Fashion boutique tomorrow by 3pm.
    Check this link to learn more :

    1. Aren't they great! They make my heart flutter every time I look at them!

      I probably will be busy tomorrow, but let's see if I can pop by sometime! :)