Have you got a cupboard full of clothes, but nothing to wear? We feel your pain! That’s why we got a style expert to share her top shopping tips to help you buy clothes you’ll wear again and again.
Preparation is key
DIVIDE YOUR WARDROBE INTO SECTIONS — dresses, skirts, tops, pants. Then divide it again into colours. You’ll then be able to see at a glance what you need and what you have too much of.
BUY A NOTEBOOK and make it your designated shopping book. Use it to help you when, for example, you try on a dress and wish you had a certain necklace to go with it, or realise you have no shoes to match a particular skirt. Write it in your book to remind you what you need the next time you’re at the shops.
WHEN YOU SPOT THINGS YOU LIKE IN MAGAZINES, rip out the page and stick it in your notebook or somewhere you’ll see it often. It will give you time to think carefully about whether or not it will fit your current wardrobe, whether it will suit you and where you might wear it.
TAKE A LIGHTWEIGHT PAIR OF HEELS with you when you go shopping and maybe a necklace to try on in the changing room. Then you can see how an outfit will look properly finished.
HOW MANY TIMES HAVE YOU STOOD IN FRONT OF THE MIRROR in the changing room and thought, ‘With a better bra or undies it’ll be fine’, only to get home and discover it’s not! A great shopping tip is to always wear good, neutral-coloured underwear that smooth out lumps and bumps for an accurate view in the fitting room.
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What’s in store?
SHOP FOR SHOES BEFORE FEET GET HOT and swollen. No use trying them on at the end of an expedition.
IF A TOP OR DRESS WILL ONLY LOOK GOOD ON YOU after you’ve piled on the fake tan or make-up, then it’s not worth buying. You’ll never bother to go to all that trouble each time you want to wear it and it’ll just end up forgotten at the back of your cupboard.
IF IT’S TIGHT IN THE SHOP, it will be tight at home. One of the best shopping tips we can give you is to buy things that fit you now — you can always get them taken in when you do lose the weight.
THINK OUTFIT RATHER THAN ITEM. However much you love something, if you can’t visualise it worn three different ways, it’s not a good investment.
Read more: 7 ways to wear your skinny jeans
IF YOU’RE SHOPPING FOR A SPECIAL OCCASION, plan for the circumstances. A tight dress requiring ‘suck-it-in’ undies will be uncomfortable at a wedding where most of the day you’ll be eating, drinking and sitting; similarly, fabric-covered heels are a disaster at certain outdoor events when you can easily get stuck in the grass, and if you’re the godmother at a christening, anything dry clean only is out of the question!
REMEMBER, SALES ASSISTANTS ARE PAID TO TELL YOU HOW GOOD YOU LOOK. So, take a picture on your phone and send it to your husband/friend/daughter for an honest opinion.
A SMARTPHONE CAN BE YOUR BFF WHEN SHOPPING. One of the easiest ways to tell what looks best on you is to take a photo of several outfits you’re trying on. Then compare the photos side by side. It should instantly be clear which clothes are the most flattering.
DON’T BE BULLIED INTO BUYING If you’re not sure, ask the assistant to hold the item for an hour. Then go grab a cup of coffee and check whether it’s on the store website. If it is, get it delivered. That way you can try it on in the comfort of your own home ad see if it goes with anything else. And you can show it to people whose opinion you value.
IF IT’S CHEAP, IT’S NOT NECESSARILY A BARGAIN. However, the exception to this rule is whether it can be easily altered. Taking up a hemline, for example, or creating a dart, is an inexpensive way to totally change an item for the better.
IF YOU TRY ON SOMETHING FITTED (a pencil skirt or swimsuit) in the morning, ask the store to keep it until after lunch. Unsurprisingly, we’re slimmest in the morning, so try it on again later — if you’re still happy with it after lunch, buy it. The best shopping tips include having patience.
CHECK THE RETURNS POLICY. If it’s exchange only, rather than money back, are there other pieces you could switch it for if you change your mind? And if refunds have to be within a certain number of days, is the shop easy for you to get back to?
The indoor rules
IF YOU’VE BOUGHT A NEW PAIR OF JEANS, throw out the old ones or give them to charity. Never, ever stuff the new ones in next to the old ones.
SPEND AN HOUR WEARING NEW SHOES INDOORS to make sure they’re comfortable. If you wear them out just once, and they’re not right, you’ve lost the opportunity to take them back.
TRY ON NEW ITEMS AS SOON AS YOU GET HOME to check they really will work with your current wardrobe. This may be the last shopping tip, but it it very important! Give them the once-over to check for any holes and remove any tags to make sure they don’t leave a mark. If you don’t do it straight away, you may miss the boat for a refund should there be a problem.