1. Being influenced by the sales assistant who is paid to get you to buy clothes (whether they suit you or not).
Retail sales staff are paid to sell you clothes. Some are even paid extra commissions based on how much they sell. So it’s in their interest that you buy as much as possible, whether it suits you or not. I’ve been shopping and told a client that something doesn’t suit them and they should take it off, moments later the sales assistant will pipe up and say it looks fabulous. Who is telling the truth?
2. Not bothering to try on the clothes
Many women are short on time and so rather than try on a garment they just pick it out in what they consider to be their ‘size’ and take it home, and justify to themselves that if it doesn’t fit they’ll return it. But so much doesn’t get returned because they don’t get around to it. Instead of having saved themselves time (by not trying on in the store) they’ve now wasted the time it took them to get to the store, and wasted money by not returning the unflattering garment. Always, always, always try on garments in the store. Yes it may look fine on the hanger, but so often, the cut is a little off, and it doesn’t work on the body. Don’t fall into this trap.
3. Only taking 1 size into the change-room
It’s true that so many stores only allow you 5 or 6 garments in the change-room at once, so you feel you have to be really selective about what you take in. Don’t be, take lots of clothes and lots of sizes – the sales assistant will keep all the extra clothes at the change room for you to try on if they have a numbers policy and then you can get them to bring you the other sizes and styles you want to try, rather than have to get dressed and leave the change-rooms. Try on 20 garments at a time, not 5 and you’ll have better success. Try on multiple sizes of clothes as even in the same store sizes vary between garments.
4. Buying on the sizing label not what fits you
I’ve seen some catastrophic purchases in people’s wardrobes because they bought a size not for fit. Look it’s a size 12! They tell me excitedly, even though the pin-stripes on the thighs are bent and bulging. Nobody cares what the size is, the label is on the inside not on the outside, so no one else ever needs to know what it is. If you don’t like the size, cut the label out once you’ve purchased it. You’ll look so much better when your clothes fit you well, rather than basing your purchasing decisions on a number that is completely arbitrary and varies from store to store. You are not a number!
5. Buying because it’s designer or a label, not because it suits you
OK, it’s easy to fall into this trap – we all love a bit of luxury and sometimes we may buy a garment not because it suits us, but because it’s a designer label. We buy it because we want that little bit of luxury in our lives, but beware, just because it’s a label, doesn’t mean it will work for us, our lifestyle or suit our silhouette or colouring and in the end could just be a costly mistake. Only buy designer when you understand what really works for you – then the investment can be worthwhile.
6. Buying because it’s on sale, not because you need it
Many of us love a bargain – it’s the hunter in us, out there stalking our prey, looking for the best catch. But just because it’s cheap doesn’t mean it’s really a bargain. Purchasing clothes that you never wear, not matter how cheap is a waste of money if they’re just going to take up space in your wardrobe and eventually be thrown out and end up as landfill. Make sure if you buy something on sale you’re not just purchasing emotionally, ask yourself is it really filling a gap in your wardrobe or is it going to be a wardrobe orphan?
7. Not understanding your silhouette and what suits it
Understanding your colouring, body shape and proportions (as well as the myriad of other elements you need to know about what suits you) are key to what clothes you should buy. Clothes that suit you make you look and feel great. Clothes that are for a different body shape won’t flatter and you’ll never feel fabulous in them. Investing in finding out what suits your unique body pays for itself time and time again as you stop wasting money on clothes that don’t suit you, plus has the added benefit of making shopping easier as you know what to try on and what to avoid. Why not grab your free body shape bible (you can do my body shape quiz here) so that you know what to look for next time you go shopping.
8. Not creating a list before you go shopping
Wardrobe after wardrobe I see has multiples of the same garments. Their owners will often exclaim in surprise “oh I forgot I had that” as we find clothes stashed away at the backs of drawers. So much money is wasted on buying clothes that people don’t need and that don’t add value to their wardrobes, filling the gaps and extending their outfits. Instead their filled with wardrobe orphans and multiples of the same garments. Before you shop, you need to do an audit of your wardrobe and work out what you really need so that you’re not going to waste another cent on something you don’t need.
9. Buying ‘different’ for the sake of different
Yes, it’s easy to get stuck in a style rut as we tend to keep buying what we feel works, or sometimes just keeping on buying the same garment in different colours, it become so boring. So we bust out of our rut and choose something completely different, but when we get it home we never wear it because it’s really not ‘us’. Clothing personality styles are closely related to our personality traits, if we move too far away from our personality we won’t feel great in the clothes we choose. Try a little bit different rather than radically different and you’ll have more success. If you’re not sure who you are and how to express that through your clothing, I highly recommend doing my 7 Steps to Style program which will give you the tools you need to answer this question.
10. Going shopping without grooming first
Shopping for clothes means spending some time looking at ourselves in the mirror. So before you go, make sure you do your hair and put on some light makeup – groom – then you can assess how the clothes really look rather than just thinking that you look terrible (particularly as the lighting in some changerooms is harsh and unflattering anyway – give yourself all the help you can!).
Imogen this is a fantastic list! Thank you so much.
Great list, Imogen!
Do you ever fall into temptation or can you talk yourself out of all of the traps?
I actually am prone to a mix of 6 and 7, especially when “stress shopping.” That’s when I find that despite having spent time and money to build up a closet full of carefully chosen pieces in fairly flattering colors and shapes that work together, I will think “Oh, I need X to fill a gap and this will do even though the fit/color etc is far from ideal. And after all it’s a great sale price.”
Then the damn thing sits around unworn because I’ve trained myself to want better (if I’m smart + lucky I return it!). I swear doing that is how I got myself into such a mess in the first place, ha!
Thanks for trying to save us from our shopping selves….
I know about the traps because sometimes I too fall into them – I’m only human!
Re your follow-up: Somehow that’s comforting to me, snort. Makes you a better teacher, right?
Thank you Imogen, especially for the point 2. I have completely forgotten to put this one into my list. Although here in Hungary lots of woman goes to the outdoor chinese market and buy clothes without a try even bras too!! Brilliant advises again! Thanks a lot!
Very true list — when I’m short on time, I don’t always try on garments (#2) and #8 is/was my closet until a recent cleanout (5 black cardis as I search for the “perfect” one). So I’ve made a new rule for myself that I’m practicing: I leave the tags on all clothing purchases once at home and I hang the artcle of clothing in a place I can see it (I keep the receipt in my purse) This gives me time to think about the purchase and to try it on a few more times. If I still love it, I keep it but if not (or if I’m not sure) then the item is returned.
What a great and helpful list, love the last tip so much! Thank you!
Aren’t I lucky you’ll be helping me out next week!?
Great post! I think I’m guilty of #6 and sometimes #9.
We all have weaknesses T – it’s good to know what they are so you can stop yourself and think before you buy!
I have the stupidest problem with this–I take a whole bunch of clothes into the dressing room, nothing fits, the salespeople try to help and find different sizes for me, then I end up buying something that doesn’t look good on me because I feel guilty about wasting the salespeople’s time! Sometime I convince myself that something works because I feel like I have to buy something after spending an hour in the dressing room, but when I get it home I realize that it looks terrible.
Just remember, that your time and money is valuable, and not buying something if it’s not great is better for you in the long run. You will have more money to spend another time! That will make the salesperson happy.
After falling into the same groove with black,black & more black I have embraced colour!
In order to build a wardrobe in which most things are “mulit-taskers”, I too do what RM has suggested.
I leave all price tags on the garment and try it on several times with the proposed outfit, right down to shoes & accessories. When I am convinced it is right I then take off the tag
If I don’t love it, I return it, but be beware, sometimes I only receive a credit note & I have to be careful of return conditions. But definately worth the effort!