I told Luke that, while driving to the mall today, I was formulating a blog post in my head, called, “How to Win at Shopping”. His response? “Easy – Do it online.”
Nice try, Husband, but online shopping is way too advanced for a rookie like me. That requires knowing fancy details like exactly what sizes you require, and what styles look good on your body (without the aid of a dressing room to check them out before purchase).
“But, you can always return whatever you don’t like!” To that I say,
I don’t hate shopping, per say. I just can’t be bothered with it most of the time. Sure – I grocery shop on a weekly basis and visit Costco more often than I should admit, but those things are very different from the “shopping” that I am talking about here. I’m talking about the kind that takes all day and involves browsing multiple stores, trying things on, digging through sales racks, and so on. Yes, that’s right, I’m referring to Clothes Shopping Day. I very successfully avoid that kind of shopping for several months at a time. But, once a year or so, it is something of a necessity.
In 2014, I made the mistake of wearing all my clothes just a little too far into my pregnancy, so most pants and several tops are stretched out. Additionally, most of my work clothes were purchased when I first got my job, some eight years ago, and are getting rather threadbare. Needless to say, I’m returning to work in a few weeks time, and I needed a new wardrobe.
My insistence on jamming as much shopping as possible into a single day has made really good at optimizing my time. So good, in fact, that I’ve compiled this list of tips! (Pause for applause…) Now, do you either enjoy and are already good at clothes shopping in malls or have an Amazon Prime account and your credit card number memorized?
…Then, this list isn’t really for you. Sorry. This list also isn’t for those who carefully budget and track sales, because I am not that organized or patient. This list is for those of you (us) who spend a week psyching yourself up for the chore that is clothes shopping, and then do it all in one day, even if that means paying full price, because you want to get in, get what you need, and get out for another year. You are my people, allow me to impart my wisdom upon you…
- Start your shopping list at least one week in advance. This gives you time to add things here and there as you think of them over several days. Nothing worse than arriving home from your “big day” and realizing you forgot something super important that you simply have to get and can only be found at that one store in that one mall that you just left. Equally important – bring the list with you when you go shopping. Sounds like a no-brainer but, trust me, it needed to be said. Pro-tip: Get a shopping list app on your phone so you always have it with you when you think of something to add. I use Out-of-Milk, but I’m sure there are other, better options to be found.
- Clean your house before you go. You are venturing out to purchase shiny, new things. Don’t you want to bring those things home to a shiny (if not new) house? Seriously, it’s like tidying up before you go on vacation – after a long trip, it’s just nice to come home to a clean house. Bonus: While you’re cleaning and organizing your stuff, you will most definitely think of things to add to your shopping list.
- Dress for success. Pick out every piece of your outfit deliberately and thoughtfully. I literally mean every piece:
- Underwear. Don’t wear your laundry-day, polka-dot granny panties that will look weird and bulky through the bottoms you are trying on.
- Socks. Opt for simple, black socks that aren’t distracting.
- Bra. Wear a neutral coloured bra that will hide fairly well under a variety of tops.
- Top. Choose a wide-neck top that will do minimal damage to your hair as you pull it on and off your head throughout the day. A neutral-coloured camosile works great since you can keep it on when trying on most sweaters or blouses.
- Pants. Choose a comfortable pair that won’t become stretched or loose when you take them off and pull them back on for the eighteenth time that day.
- Shoes. Go for comfort – sneakers are best. If you are trying on dresses, most stores will have heels you can borrow for added effect; no need to hobble around in your own for several hours.
- Dress lightly. Avoid jackets or sweaters because you will inevitably get too warm and be stuck lugging it around for three quarters of the day. “But I could always just bring it back out to the car, right?” Please refer to the first meme in this post.
- Wear what you want. Above all else, wear clothes that are comfortable and that you feel good in. Experience has shown me that a good shopping day requires me to feel at least somewhat like I look gooooood when I check myself out in the dressing room mirror. Which leads into the next point…
- Put on make-up and do your hair. If you never bother with make-up and feel great without it – congratulations, that’s awesome! But, if glopping goo onto your face makes you feel pretty, then for the love of God, glop that goo before you enter that mall! You are going to spend a disproportionate amount of your day staring at yourself in a mirror and, if you feel like your face and hair look run down, that will undoubtedly impact how you feel about the clothes you are testing out. It sounds crazy, but I swear it’s true. Side note: The same rule also applies when you get a new haircut. Put on make-up (if you are into that kind of thing) and I can just about guarantee you’ll feel better about your new hairstyle than if you spent the previous 45 minutes concentrating on the bags under your eyes and that one zit that you should have left alone (but didn’t).
Now that we’ve established the importance, it’s also worth noting the type. Go with neutral and simple. No bright coloured shadows that might clash with clothes, and no fancy hairstyles that will be ruined before the fourth top comes down over your head.
- Pack light. Don’t bring a purse. Your shoulder will get sore and, if you are like me, that will very likely lead to a headache before the end of the day. Pull out the cards (credit card, driver’s license, loyalty cards, etc.) that you need and, if you have room, just stick them in your pockets. Or, if your stupid girl-pants have teeny pockets that are useless, put them in a small clutch or wallet that you can carry with you. This is also a good reason to go through your purse and remind yourself of any gift cards you’ve been “meaning” to use someday. Today will be that day!
- Eat light and healthy before and during the Clothes Shopping Day. I am the poster child for bad eating habits. Show me a food court and I will gravitate to the KFC every time. I am known to swing by the movie theatre just to pick up popcorn (with layered butter, of course). However – on Clothes Shopping Day, I force myself to do better. Why? Because, even if you are fairly happy with your weight and body type, as I am, greasy food just leaves you feeling a little bit yucky. “Yucky” and “clothes shopping” do not go well together.
- Plan to go alone. I broke this rule today. It was totally worth it, because I got to hang out with a pair of super cool ladies, but I am still aware that I am far more productive when shopping alone (as evidenced by the number of bags I had when we parted ways after two hours of shopping together versus the number of bags I had after one more hour of shopping alone). When you shop alone, you never feel rushed, or embarrassed by the stores you want to go into, or obligated to spend extra time in stores in which you have had no luck. Save friend-time for when you are just looking for a nice mall-crawl, and are not on the mission that is Clothes Shopping Day.
- Start somewhere that is a guaranteed score. Whatever you do, do not start your day by going into that one store that has beautiful stuff that is all way out of your price range or that other store that has weird sizes so everything you picked out is way too small when you try it on (I don’t care what size you are – that is a major downer). Make your first stop a place that you are highly confident will result in a purchase. For me, that was Walmart. I know, not fancy, but that’s why I like it. I’m cheap, so I started somewhere that I could pick out 20 pieces to try on, none of which had prices that made me cringe. And I needed a few other miscellaneous non-clothing things, so even if the rest of the day was a bust, at least I knew I wouldn’t be going home completely empty-handed.
- Check things off of your list as you go. You need four sweaters and just bought two? Update that list as soon as you walk out of the store. You will forget what you already bought as the day progresses and, though it’s fun to rediscover everything when you get home and unpack the bags, you don’t want to discover that you came home with eight sweaters instead of four and somehow forgot to buy a single pair of pants.
- Know your limits. When you’re done, you’re done. Don’t keep pushing yourself just because there are a few things still on your list. Re-evaluate if you really need to find a second navy dress, and if you can re-purpose that one pair of capris you just remembered is in the back of your drawer at home. When your feet are sore and you stop having fun – Go home. You done good.
I hope this was useful! What did I forget? What do you do to make the most of your Clothes Shopping Day?
PS: That picture at the top was my haul from today (including the two suitcases in the back). I don’t know about life, but I totally won at shopping today. 😀