Clothes shopping doesn't have to be an impossible chore. These tips for smarter shopping will help you buy a better wardrobe by spending less time and money.
Time Required: Varies
- Have a plan. Check your closet and make a mental note of what you could use (e.g., a black turtleneck to go with menswear pants you own, etc.)
- Set a budget. Knowing you can only pay $100 for a dress ahead of time will help you sort through the racks quicker.
- Start early. For special occasions allow yourself at least two weeks prior to the event to find the dress. You'll need extra time for shoes and accessories.
- Dress for shopping. If you'll be looking for a special occasion dress, try to wear or bring undergarments (strapless bra, etc.) to go with the style. Otherwise, wear easy on/off clothes. Also, styled hair and makeup will make looking at yourself in the dressing room mirror just that much easier.
- Shop by yourself. If you really need a second opinion, put the item on hold and bring someone back with you later.
- Keep a blind eye to sales and promotions. Stores put enticing promotional items at the front. Chances are you'll blow your budget right there unless you stay on task.
- Accept a salesperson's help. You may be surprised by how much time you'll save you if you'll give them some direction about what you're shopping for.
- Try it on. Walk, sit, bend in the clothes. Do they move easily? Are the seams pulling? Do zippers, buttons, etc. all function properly?
- Use the three-way mirror. Get an honest look at your rear and side views. Watch for extreme panty lines (too-tight pants), bunched up waist (too big) or other tell-tale signs of an ill-fitting garment.
- Check the care tags. If laundry concerns matter to you, then you may want to do this while browsing. Otherwise, see how much care the item is going to require.
- Check the return policy. Many stores don't give cash back, just a store credit; but some mark sale items "final sale" which means you can't bring them back at all.
- Avoid buying items you can't return for at least a store credit.
- Never buy anything that doesn't fit perfectly. The only exceptions are pants/skirts that can be easily altered for length at the hem.
- It's not a bargain -- even at 90% off -- unless you actually have some way to work it into your existing wardrobe.
What You Need
- Shopping list
- Money: checks, cash, credit cards
- A shoulderbag to keep hands free for shopping
- Comfortable clothes and shoes for trying on and walking