You may not think about this (or agree), but clothes shopping is something of an art. I’m not talking about those occasions when a casual stroll through the mall results in purchases you may or may not have anticipated – “happy accidents”, as it were. Heading out to the store(s) with the specific intent to shop – or better yet, with the intent to shop for a specific something – is serious business. You have to go about it in the right way. The right frame of mind is important; feeling cheerful, optimistic and not hungry is probably your best weapon. [And the enemy is those awful jaundiced lights they put in changing rooms. Seriously, what is up with that?] Equally important, though, is what you wear.
You might be thinking, “Surely, it doesn’t matter what I wear when I go shopping! The whole point is to find something new to wear, isn’t it?” Yes and no. Or, rather, no and yes. In order to shop strategically, you have to come prepared. And that means wearing the right things.
Nine times out of ten, the perfect shopping outfit will look something like this (along with the appropriate outerwear if we’re aiming for verisimilitude):
Here is why:
– Wearing separates will allow you to try on more things, more quickly and easily.
– Wearing a favourite, darker wash pair of straight or boot-cut jeans will let you see how a top might be worn “casual” or “dressy” (just imagine the jeans as dress pants). A classic, streamlined pair of jeans will complement almost any style of top and will not “compete” it visually. This lets you focus on the top. Plus, any time you wear something you like and feel comfortable in, you’ll be in a much better mood and more open to new (style) ideas.
– A fitted tank top or camisole in a solid, neutral colour will go with any style of skirt or pant you might want to try on. As a bonus, a black or cream tank will serve you well if you want to try on any sheer blouses or tops. A tank top is also easier to take off and put on than, say, a turtleneck or anything that requires buttoning.
– Having a favourite cover-up (be it a jacket or cardigan) at hand means that you can quickly see whether the piece you are trying on can be easily incorporated into your existing wardrobe. It will also remind you about the proportions that work best for you in the event that you are, in fact, shopping for a similar piece (i.e. a new cardigan) or a complementary one. However, your cover-up option may depend on what you’re shopping for – if you want to find a pair of pants to wear with your boyfriend blazer, it makes sense to take that blazer with you when you’re shopping.
– Black shoes in your favourite heel height (be it flats or 3 inch heels) will be most versatile in terms of helping you pull the whole outfit together. In particular, if you are shopping for skirts, dresses or pants, wearing the right heel is important. If you are a flats girl, then by all means, wear flats. But if you plan on wearing the piece under consideration with heels, bring a pair along to see how it all looks together; you can always put them in your bag if you don’t want to wear heels to the store.
– Avoid extra accessories, as they could easily clash with the pieces you are trying on or otherwise be distracting.– And always – always! – wear the right undergarments. For the most part, a nude colour, seamless bra with moderate padding and push-up (whatever that means for you based on your preferences) is the best choice. It will (a) make your cleavage look nice and uplifted, and (b) work with almost any top, except halter neck and strapless ones. [Btw, the quickest way to “lose” 5-10 pounds for anyone with B+ cups: make sure your bra straps are adjusted properly.] If you know you are going to be trying on something like a cocktail dress – which might very likely end up being strapless – then tuck a strapless bra in your purse. Similarly, if you have concerns about smoothness, also bring a pair of Spanx or other control garments with you; that way, you don’t have to second guess yourself on whether the dress you’re trying on will really work or not, and you’ll save the yourself the hassle of dealing with possible returns or exchanges. It pays to come prepared.
OK, so the shopping “uniform” may not be particularly stylish, but in this case, function needs to win out over the wow factor. That comes afterward.
Happy (shopping) trails!!