Ask Belle: Best Shopping Advice
Jan 31, 2013
Love, love, love your site. You give a lot of great advice, what’s your best shopping advice?
A few years ago, I expanded my blog business to include closet makeovers like those you see on shows like “What Not to Wear.” To date, I’ve cleaned out over two dozen closets, and I consistently see women of all sizes, styles and salaries making the same two mistakes. Luckily, they’re easy to remedy.
Pieces vs. Outfits. When you walk into a store and see the hot item on the mannequin, you can get swept up in the awesomeness of the piece. But wait, stop. Before you buy ask yourself, “What else is my closet can I wear this top/skirt/dress with?”
As an example, let’s use the cobalt blue pencil skirt that I bought last night. I can wear this with my white chiffon blouse and my grey tie neck top. I can wear it with my berry-colored crewneck sweater. I can wear it with a graphic tee and flats.
If I want to start wearing it tomorrow, I can pair it with black tights, a black sheer blouse and black tall boots. Or I can grab my charcoal sweater and a pair of snakeskin pumps.
By thinking in terms of outfits, not pieces, I can get a sense of how valuable a piece will be to my wardrobe. Knowing how much wear I will get out of this skirt with my existing pieces helps me decide if the skirt is worth the price. In this case, it was.
Put Your Money Where Your Time Is. I see it all the time, the woman has a closet full of Old Navy, H&M and Forever 21 pieces that she wears to work. But then, in the back of the closet are cocktail dresses and special occasion items that set her back hundreds of dollars per piece, and they’re just gathering dust.
Ladies, stop spending your money on the pieces you’ll wear once and settling for every day pieces that can only be worn once before they fall apart.
For example, I don’t spend money on casual clothes very often, because I don’t have a casual life. I work a 60+ hour week, the bulk of my time is spent at the office. So the bulk of my clothing budget is spent on office attire. So stop keeping your money in the dark, dank back of the closet, and start splurging on the clothes and shoes that will be worn the most frequently.
As for cocktail attire, I buy most of those items on eBay, discount sites like The Outnet or I rent them from Rent the Runway. Because why waste good money on a great dress that might only be worn once or twice? Unless it’s a wedding dress, that’s a unitasker that you don’t need.
The Follow Up. And if I could offer one more short piece of advice, TRY THE CLOTHES ON. Do not buy anything that you haven’t tried on in the store (unless you’re ordering online). Trying the clothes on let’s you know if you need a different size, whether the color works for you, if the piece flatters your figure and whether you’ll need alterations. Store return policies aren’t always generous, and who wants to make the extra trip if you don’t have to?
Since I started religiously trying on clothes five years ago, I’ve learned more about what works for my body and purchased less. You’ll be surprise how many “must haves” on the hanger turn into “no ways” in the dressing room.
What’s your best shopping advice?
P.S. If you live in the D.C. area and want me to help you muck out and restyle your wardrobe, e-mail capitolhillstyle (at) gmail (dot) come for rates and rules. I’m booked up until late February but putting together appointments for spring.