Monday, February 27, 2012

Playing Dress Up, Step #4: Confessions of a Shopaholic

I'm not sure when it happened, but I love shopping. I definitely wasn't that into clothes in high school and had no money in college. But somehow, it happened anyway. I'm not exactly Rebecca Bloomwood, and I probably own less clothes than a lot of people, but I do sometimes have to remind myself that I don't need another blue sweater! Hopefully you can benefit from my shopping knowledge. :)

1. Shop with a list. 
Especially if you are making over your whole closet!

2. Buy a latte. Drink it while you shop. It's just a good idea.

3. Buy nice underwear. I know, even I can't believe I'm talking about this on my blog. But trust me: get a nice bra and some underwear in the right sizes. It will make all your clothes look better and will hopefully make you feel awesome. I'm all about saving money, but don't skimp here. You wear these every day: it's worth it!

4. Shop for jeans/swimsuits on a separate trip.

This should be a separate trip from all your other shopping, or you will probably end in tears (I'm not the only one who hates jean shopping, right??). A few reminders:
*very few people look good in skinny jeans.  If you do, please wear them because I can't! My friend Megan looks amazing in skinny jeans, and every time I see her, I try again to find a pair that fits me. But I have yet to find any that even fit past my calves. And I'm pretty sure if I did find some, they would not look awesome. I have a theory that in a few years we will all look back and equate these with the Dreaded Tapered Jeans.
*most people do look good in bootcut jeans. You know, the boring ones, with no weird patterns on the pockets and no fraying, in dark blue that always look good on you even when bell-bottoms or stonewashed jeans are back in again? Those are the ones you should buy.
*Don't try on a bikini in the winter. Just don't.
*Don't eat a big meal before you go jean/swimsuit shopping. You will regret it.
*Do take yourself out for a meal after you go jean/swimsuit shopping. You deserve it. 
*Find what you love and buy two!

 5. Learn to love the clearance rack. 


If you can take the (small amount of) extra time to shop in the sale section, you will really be able to get nicer clothes than you otherwise might be able to afford. I like shopping in a bit more pricey places (for me, this is Banana Republic and Gap and Anthropolgie rather than Target and Old Navy) for things like sweaters and skirts for work. You could buy a $25 sweater at Old Navy. But you could also get one on sale at Banana Republic for the same price, and it will last you longer.

6. Find your favourite stores and stick to them. A few of my favourites:



Sweaters, skirts, tank tops, scarves. Gap is just so great at basics. A crazy amount of my wardrobe is from here. I also love their sale section because it is small and pretty well organized.



If you don't shop here for clothes, I actually think you're a little crazy. Not only do they have the best plain v-neck t-shirts ever (for $6), but if you keep your eyes open for their designer collaborations, you can get things designed by people like Jean Paul Gaultier, Jason Wu, and Paul & Jo. For crazy cheap. They are also great for other basics- jeans, pajamas, cardigans, shoes, etc. I can't help myself whenever Converse comes out with something new: uber cute dresses and sweaters.

Old Navy


I feel like Old Navy really goes through good and bad stages. Sometimes there is nothing that would fit me. Other times, it's like they made the clothes just for me. I have found sweaters, purses, and rings here that I wear all the time. Amazingly enough, I have a pair of black pants that I bought here at least 15 years ago for about $20 that are one of the best pairs of pants I've ever owned and I still wear them consistently. I also have things I bought here that practically fell apart the next day. Shop here a lot when they are in a good stage. If they're in a bad stage, just wait a few months.



This is a British company that makes awesome clothes for the 'yummy mummy' set. Or if you're me, for the single working woman set. They have great, practical (and really pretty) dresses, skirts, and jeans. It's more expensive than the stores above, but they have amazing sales multiple times every year. And their clothes are classic and will last you a long time. I don't know how they do it, but when I order things from Boden, they consistently look better on me than I thought they would. These clothes actually fit real women, which is encouraging! 

LL Bean/ Land's End

Please skip the tapered jeans and monogrammed polos (well, I guess the polos are fine if that's your thing). But if you do that, these are great companies! They both make quality things that will last you basically forever. I have gotten slippers and vests from Land's End, the Boat Bag and Duck Boots from LL Bean, among other things. They are the best. It is definitely better with these things to spend the money up front ($60 for the bean boots rather than $15 at Target) and not have to replace the item every year. 

H&M, Zara, etc.  

These stores can be so busy that I have been known to almost have a coniption and have to leave immediately. But if you can manage to shop at a time when they are not as busy- like 10am on a Tuesday- then you can really find some awesome stuff! H&M is perfect for fun, funky, trendy things. $3 for a pair of purple earrings, $5 for a halter top, $10 for the hammer pants that will (hopefully) be out of style next year. Hard to beat. Zara is a bit more expensive, but well made. I have a paisley work shirt and a trench coat from here that I love. Plus Kate Middleton shops there, so you should too. With all of these types of stores (Forever21, H&M, etc), my M.O. is to swoop in, look around for 15 minutes, buy 1 or 2 things for $5 and then leave before I get overwhelmed. They're fun places for adding a bit of extra style to your basics.

7. Don't torture yourself.


While you are shopping remember: If you don't love it, move on. I learned this simple but amazing tip from my friend Kristen in college. You know how you are in the dressing room, trying on a pile of clothes and you put on a pair of pants and cringe? And then you stand there for 5 minutes, looking at yourself from each angle, saying, boy! these pants make my thighs look huge! they are sooo small! who are these made for? Well, whoever it is, it is not you: just take them off (quickly, people!) and move on. Don't stand there berating yourself. Just get the next size up! Or a different colour! Or a different style. Find something that does look awesome on you. Believe me, you're cute. There are plenty of things that look awesome on you.

Related to this, don't shop in places that make you feel awful. There are certain stores that just don't make you feel great. Either the sales people are too pushy, the store is catering to a different demographic, or the clothes just aren't right on you. There are two stores I love, but for the life of me I can't shop there. I really like the style of the shirts and tank tops at American Eagle. But every time I go in, I remember: oh yeah! They are catering to tiny teenagers and I am a normal size twenty-something. I also love J.Crew. A lot. But for whatever reason, even though I am small, their shirts only ever emphasize my stomach. So now, I just get the catalog and look for ideas on ways to put together outfits- which (sorry J. Crew) I buy at a different store.


Now, have fun going home and putting away all your new purchases in your clean closet! 

Come back later to find out how to put all your new items together....


GLENDA CHILDERS said... Reply To This Comment

Wow ... what a fun and practical post.

renee said... Reply To This Comment

loved this! your inspiring me to shop!botemat xelfi

Rach said... Reply To This Comment

Love these ideas. I may be guilty of skimming the sales rack each week at Target, and have found some great stuff there. We also have a Gap about two blocks from us, so I browse clearance there occasionally.

Missed seeing you yesterday...I was working in children's church.

Adrianne said... Reply To This Comment

Very well written post, Jenny! You are so fun, and have such a great sense of style!

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