According to a survey by Mintel, 44% of women dislike shopping as they feel that clothing manufacturers are only making clothes for the skinny young woman.
I completely understand why so many women hate shopping:
1. Can’t find anything that fits your body – whether you’re tiny or larger, size issues are issues for every woman as we all are made a little differently from each other. Only today I was shopping with a lovely client who is an Australian size 6 (US 2) and we found it impossible to find her a pair of trousers that fit.
2. Can’t find anything that suits your body shape – because so frequently when a fashion is “in” that’s all you can buy, no matter which store you go to, so if that shape or style doesn’t suit your body, there are no alternatives to purchase instead.
3. Overwhelmed by choice – you walk into a store, where do you start? What to take into the change room? If you don’t know what suits your body shape and colouring, if you find it difficult to visualise what a garment that is hanging on a coat hanger will look like on your curvier body, chances are you’ll be taking all the wrong clothes into the change room.
4. Too much stimulation – most stores play music, often a little too loud, which can make it difficult to concentrate on searching for great garments. The noise, the lights the other people, lots of colours and textures can all provide sensory overload which can overwhelm, particularly if you’re more sensitive to this kind of stimuli.
5. Poor service – either there is no service or the sales person isn’t trained well and will tell you anything looks great just to get the sale. The poorly trained sales person will bring you all sorts of unsuitable garments to try on, and often you feel obligated to try them on even though they are wrong for you, and then many people purchase something as they feel that they have to otherwise they’ve wasted the sales person’s time, and go home with a garment they’ll never wear that doesn’t make them feel or look great.
Does any of this sound familiar to you?
So how do you make shopping a more productive, pleasant and efficient process if you’re one of those people who dislike it?
1. Shop with an expert – an image consultant, like me, is trained to find you the clothes that will suit your colouring, body shape, lifestyle and personality. Provided that they aren’t getting kickback from stores then their advice should be impartial, there is no benefit to them for you to purchase from any store in particular, so you will get an honest opinion, in a gentle way of course! Plus we’re efficient, I can scope out a store in a minute or two which will save you lots of time (and time is your most precious asset in the end, it’s the one thing you can’t get back in your life).
2. Try on what you find easiest first – for example, if you find trousers hard to buy but tops easy, then try on the tops first, that way you will have a more positive experience, rather than a potentially negative one from the outset. When you try on something that is a disaster, your negative self-talk will kick in quickly and you’re more likely to throw in the towel quickly as your stress levels rise.
3. Just say no – yes, that sales person is trying to be helpful, and yes they need to make sales, but all buying something that doesn’t work for you is doing is creating more landfill and wasting your precious money. It would be better for you to keep your money that day, and maybe another day that store will have a fabulous garment that is just right for you, if you had spent your money on the wrong garment, then you won’t be able to afford the fabulous one. Plus the sales assistant is going to be there at work in the store anyway, it’s their job to help you. Give them clear directions about what you are and aren’t looking for. It’s OK to say that you’re only looking for warm colours and don’t want anything in black, that you don’t like pockets on your thighs, or whatever it is that you’re after. Sales assistants aren’t mind readers, you need to let them know how you’d like to be looked after.
4. Shop when it’s quiet. If you can, shopping early in the morning just after stores open is much easier than at lunchtime when it’s busy. Often the music in the stores won’t be quite as loud then either! Plus the sales assistants aren’t as busy with other customers so you can ask for their help if you want it, and you don’t have to queue to pay.
5. Learn all you can about your colouring, your body, your personality – reading blogs like this one, reading books, seeking consultations with an image consultant, will all help you when you walk into a store as you will be more capable of scanning the store, finding the best colours and styles for you, and will be able to be much more objective rather than emotional about shopping, less likely to waste money on clothes that don’t work.
6. Take a list – like you go to the supermarket with a list, don’t go shopping for clothes without a list. If you have multiples of the same garment then you are prone to purchase for the sake of it, emotionally, rather than being analytical, asking yourself if you REALLY REALLY need that garment, will it fill a hole in your wardrobe and make your wardrobe work harder for you.
If you’re one of the 56% who enjoy shopping and tend to overshop – you may need to think about becoming more analytical too, make sure you’re not shopping for emotional reasons. If your wardrobe is bursting and you think you are, then it could be well worthwhile undertaking a shopping hiatus to figure out why you shop. A program like Shop Your Wardrobe could be just what you need to get a grip on your shopping habits.
How do you really feel about shopping? What do you love? What do you hate?
Has Cleo returned yet? I’m so worried about her, I’m checking here several times a day hoping for good news.
I love your blog, I am learning so much from you, thank you!
Siobhan – no Cleo, living in hope, but it is fading. Thanks for asking.
Brilliant post, Imogen! I feel like I learned such a lot shopping with you yesterday. I especially like the tip about trying on the things you know are likely to work so you don’t get discouraged. And saying no is also easier when you have someone else with you. I am still contemplating that little red velvet jacket from Zara …
Think you should get that jacket Tiffany! Thanks for shopping with me!
Thanks so much, Imogen! I have always had a love and hate relationship with shopping – mainly because there aren’t enough clothes that suit my body type. I have an H-shaped body with O-shape inclinations, and everything is either belted or seamed on the waist these days! And jean-shopping and pants-shopping are a horror! I almost no longer wear any kind of pants because 1) They never fit my large waistline (but I’m skinny everywhere else) and 2) I find them very very uncomfortable.
Due to this frustration, I’ve taken up sewing. I’m still in the beginning stages, and so far I have not gone shopping at all. It IS nice being able to create clothes that suit my body too (YAY to no waist seams!).
Im sure we can all relate to this post Imogen, its exactly how we feel. Well done.
Katie, I have pretty much the same shape as you, except I never considered myself skinny anywhere else, although I do have great legs!
I have always been a sewer which developed into a career of design & patternmaking because I too have been frustrated to find clothes that fit my figure, where pants/skirts fitted my hips but were too tight in the waistline. Therefore I was able to make a pattern to fit my particular shape.
I have since trained under Imogen as a Image Consultant & use my combined knowledge to help people in finding the right fit & shaped clothing for them through my consultations.
You voiced some of my exact frustrations! I’m a “skinny young woman” and I recognize the advantages, but that doesn’t mean shopping is automatically easy. My size sells out quickly, and it’s still a difficult task to find things I like in my size that fit and are flattering and don’t break the bank. A tall order for anyone. I think that’s why I have a lot of shoes, since those are much easier to shop for and I can buy them online!
I used to sew a lot more – definitely need to dust off my machine and start that again. Of course, that requires shopping for fabric… 🙂
Marie – doesn’t matter what size you are, there are still many challenges when shopping as our bodies are all unique.
A great post Imogen! Katie you sound exactly like you have my shape although I never considered myself skinny, but admit I have great legs!
I have always been a sewer which developed into a career as a designer & pattern-maker, so have been able to make my own patterns which came from the fact that it was difficult to find clothes for my wider waist with out having baggy hips.
I have since trained under Imogen as a Image Consultant & now help people to find clothing to fit their body shape & size. I eventually plan to make a small range of clothing that addresses these issues.
You can keep posted on this through my website at http://www.imagesense.com.au.
Another “sew my own” gal here. I have a core collection of TNT (tried-n-true) basics that are super flattering and fit perfectly that I make over and over. I have multiples of each in my closet, but by changing details (necklines, sleeves, pockets, trim, etc.) no one would ever guess they started from the same pattern.
I do shop, but only to see how certain styles look on me – when I find a winner, I run home, flip through my embarrassingly large collection of sewing patterns, find one that’s close, and modify it for the current trend and my figure “issues.”
ChristineB – it’s great that you have the skills to sew and alter patterns!
That’s why a uniform is so handy later in life…or earlier, if you’re brave! White shirt, black pants and Hermes scarves for variety.
I would also say you should remind yourself it’s the clothes-not your body-that aren’t working. So many women start tearing themselves apart as if they’re broken but it’s not your body-it’s the cut of the garment. Your hips/breasts/thighs are fine-they just don’t work with this particular garment. Another thing that works for me is to find stores that I know work for me (most stores use the same dress form season to season) and rely on them, which takes the guesswork and frustration out of shopping (Loft pants are cut like they’re made for me, so I go there first when pants shopping).
Too true! Yes, some stores will fit better, others will always be terrible