The One Thing You May Not Think About When Buying Clothes That Will Change the Way You Shop Forever


The One Thing You May Not Think About When Buying Clothes That Will Change the Way You Shop Forever

My house is currently undergoing a major renovation (basically I’m getting a whole new house except for my office/studio and the front door!).   This is my first renovation (it is necessary to upsize our house as we’ve gone from 2-4 kids with marriage), and my kitchen was so small you couldn’t have two people in it at the same time and open a drawer or cupboard.

So we are now 2.5 months in and a second storey has been built over the back of the house and the original house gutted.  Here is a little video of the upper story renovation…

This weekend my husband and I spent time buying taps (faucets) and door knobs.  And I’d realised when we’d first started out looking at such things that what a tap or door knob felt like was just as important as how it looks.

Many years ago I remember going out shopping one weekend and finding a waistcoat that I loved the look of on, but the fabric, well to be honest, it felt like it was made from recycled plastic bottles, it was rough and crunchy to the touch.
I remember standing and looking at this vest in the changroom mirror thinking “I like how it looks but I hate how it feels” and I decided not to buy it as I knew that the feel would make me not want to wear it.

The very next day at work one of my colleagues turned up at work in that very same waistcoat that I had dismissed for its feel.  I remember having a conversation with her about the feel and she agreed that she didn’t love the feel.  Interestingly I never saw her wear it again.

Frequently when I go through wardrobes I find garments that are barely worn.  When I discover that my client has a sensory value (which is something that you can find out in my 7 Steps to Style program) then it really really matters to them how their clothes feel on their body.  How stiff or fluid the fabric, how soft, or hard.

The longer I’ve been working with clients who are highly sensory, the more I know it really matters.  Many of us can get blinded by the look and forget feel in the changeroom when we are making purchasing decisions, when in fact it can be just as or even more important a factor when choosing something that we touch and feel, as we do with our clothes.

Why the feel of the fabric is so important
This coat has long been a favourite as I love the soft and furry feel of the fabric

When choosing tapwear for our bathroom, I was flicking up and down the mixers, not really looking at them, more concentrating on how they felt, and suddenly turned on one tap that I knew was the one I wanted.  The difference was how it felt.  It had an ergonomic feel unlike many of the others that had sharp edges. It had a curved feel.   When I mentioned to the man in the store, he told me it was a really popular tap but he couldn’t figure out why.  When I explained to him it was in the design of the shape underneath he suddenly understood why it stood out as a superior option.

What to Focus on When Buying Clothes

When applying this concept to your clothes, you want to really notice how a fabric feels on you, if the seams irritate.  If you like how the fabric moves and bends with you or not.  Close your eyes and feel the garment, removing your visual sense will help you concentrate on your other senses.  Most of the time when we are choosing a garment in stores we are really focussing on the look rather than the look and the feel, yet for so many of us who have a high sensory value, something that doesn’t feel nice or comfortable or pleasant to the touch isn’t noticed until the garment is home and worn and then never worn again.

So before you even take a gament into the changerooms, notice how it feels and think about whether or not you want to put that feeling next to your skin.  Close your eyes and feel the garment, how it moves with you, if it binds or rubs uncomfortably.  Move around in it and notice if you can hear it rubbing or moving and if that’s something you like or dislike (I also don’t like noisy fabrics like bengaline, which make a lot of noise as you walk).

And if you’ve got clothes sitting in your wardrobe unworn, do think about the feel and see if it meets your criteria for how something should feel (read more about the feel of it here).  Because sometimes we don’t know why we don’t wear a garment and it stays in our wardrobe unworn for years, yet we don’t let it go.  Maybe it’s the feel of the thing!

7 steps to style solve the style puzzle


Linking this post to:  Top of the World, My Refined Style,  iwillwearwhatilikeVisible Monday, Let It ShineMonday MingleStyle SessionsTurning Heads TuesdayTrend Spin Link-UpWhat I Wore WednesdayBrilliant Blog PostsThrowback ThursdayPassion for Fashion FridayFriday’s Fab FavouritesStyle Stories,FlatbumMumThe FABulous Journey,Sydney Fashion Hunter


I'm not sure if it's for you but how would you feel if you learned all about the colours and styles of clothing that suit your individual personality, shape and style? Just imagine what it would be like when you can open your wardrobe and pull together fabulous outfits that make you look and feel amazing every day? If you'd like to stop wasting money on the wrong clothes and accessories plus join an amazing bunch of very special women also on their style journey - then my 7 Steps to Style program is right for you. Find out more here.

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  • Precisely why all my clothes are soft, with stretch and drape, and mostly cotton. I’m super-sensitive. Allergic to wool, silver, and most cosmetics too. So I keep it simple and rely on gold jewelry plus scarves of silk or cotton for flair.

  • I avoid man-made fabrics because I don’t like how they feel when I touch garments walking by the rack and they’re uncomfortable to wear. I wear denim, but I know people who don’t as they find it too stiff to be comfortable.

  • I agree. I have very sensitive skin, and I’m easily irritated by most animal fabrics, even ones like Angora and mohair, which feel good in my hand. (Strangely, alpaca seems to be an exception, but I don’t know why.) Most linen also is difficult for me. I do wear some man-made fabrics, but anything that can’t breathe will cause me to perspire and break out in a rash. Stiff fabrics, like new denim, also chafe. I am so thankful for the new stretch denims, which are softer and don’t need to be broken in.

    Effectively, I have learned that anything that causes the least irritation in the changing room will be a waste of money, regardless of how beautiful it may look. I wish I’d learned that lesson long ago!

  • I realised that I don’t wear necklaces because they chafe my skin. I also stop wearing polyester tops for workouts and nylon tights ‘cos I like clothes that don’t feel plasticky. I hate skirts and tolerate dresses, ‘cos I don’t like things that bind to my waist.

    Comfort, Colour and proportion. Everything I buy has to check all these boxes. That’s why I stick to cotton, silk or wool.

  • You are spot on with the feel of a fabric and with the sound. I have large thighs which rub together and I find that if I wear corduroy pants, even the finest sort makes an annoying sound when I walk. Great advice to close your eyes and concentrate on the other senses when trying on clothes.

  • I helped my teenage son purge about 80% of his clothing today due to recent growth spurt. There was one sweatshirt that he was kind of feeling “meh” about but then he tried it on and exclaimed “it’s a keeper because it is so soft inside!” We both laughed when he said he was planning to sleep in it every night. This post was such a good reminder to me when I am looking for clothing gift items for him. Thanks!

    • When my son was 2 I tried to dress him in jeans. He refused and said “no mummy, not soft pants, only wear soft pants” and I realised just how sensory he is and why he would only wear certain fabrics – all of which are soft!

  • The sensory value of clothes is very important to me. This seems to be why I end up buying expensive, high quality clothing! One of my four children has the same value with clothing. This also explains why I am very hesitant to buy clothes online as much as I may think they are exactly what I’m looking for. I need to know how they feel.
    I really enjoyed reading this article. It now gives me a logical explanation for when my husband and I next discuss our clothing budget!

  • This is all me. I often walk around the store running my hands over the clothes. I have very dry skin and if the fabric snags at all on my finger tip I get an odd sensation in my fingers. it’s so wonderful to find a piece of clothing that is soft and fluid. I’m actually wearing a pair of pj pants I purchased the other day. When I felt them I actually rubbed them on my teenage daughters face and said, “Feel this!” I bought it on texture alone and my daughter got the matching sweatshirt!

  • Imogen, that is a really good point – my mother-in-law gave me a beautiful shirt in cream linen which just fitted so comfortably, I wore it a lot as it was perfect. I was sad when it wore out, and I am still hoping to find another like it. I cannot stand polyester and have removed all those dresses from my wardrobe.

  • This is so true for me. I can’t stand to be uncomfortable and if an item of clothing irritates me it doesn’t make it past the first wear. Same goes for shoes now too. Comfort all the way!
    Thanks for linking up with my Life & Style Link Up

  • Agree completely, but it is not just the fabric; fit matters as well. If the waist line is too low, the legs too tight or the arm holes too big, I don’t even bother to look in the mirror as I will never wear that garment.

  • “High sensory value” describes me to a T.

    My favorite, albeit not the most flattering, garments are 100% cotton skirts, loose and flowy. I love the softness of cotton on my legs.

    I also hate the plasticy feel of polyester in all its incarnations and am slowly weeding them out of my closet. I’ve been trying to wait for them to wear out, but that plastic just won’t break down. Their eternal life was the reason I bought them to begin with!

  • I remember first noticing sensory sensitivity during puberty, when my body was growing every which way and I was getting used to junior bras and changing in gym class. I was still very petite for my age, leaving me in the “children’s” section for a lot of clothes but finding myself increasingly uncomfortable in those styles – I recall a lot of rough fabrics and itchy seams. Now I wonder if my longtime aversion to shopping is rooted in some of those less-than-fond memories!

  • imogen,
    you described and named something that I’ve always known was the most important thing to me in buying clothes, but hadn’t really crystallized. and that it is OK to be that way! 🙂
    clothes have to be comfortable, breathable, fit comfortably, not scratchy, or noisy. most lace trim or any trims on garments are a big no-no for me as they are scratchy. many clothes in stores fail the comfort test, before I’ve even tried them on.
    so I’ve added “kinesthete” to my shopping guide, as a reminder.

  • I also can’t wear nylon, poly, garbadine, bengaline, shiny fabrics, glitter in the mix, linen, stiff cotton (like a shirt), wool, mohair, possum, etc., anything that needs ironing is a dead giveaway that I won’t wear it. Thought it was because I’m lazy, but NO! it’s because I hate the feel of crisp, heavy or scratchy fabrics. Have removed labels from all my garments since I was a child, including from inside a seam. Shoes are a problem too, feet are very sensitive and I have trouble buying comfy ones. So although my rectangular shape could do with a bit of stiff fabric around it, I just can’t do it. Fortunately, I have chosen to work in a more casual environment and can do my own thing. I buy stuff from the op shop because there is not a lot to choose from in the shops and pre-worn stuff is softer. All the clothes I wear now are stretch cotton, cashmere, viscose and in flats, stretch jeans and secondhand cashmere (cheaper!!) with cotton tops underneath.

  • I loved how you talked about how the taps fit your hand. I love going to decor shows and design shows and running my hands over things! One of the best designs I ever found was for knobs that were elliptical brushed pewter, egg shaped, that fit my palms so nicely I kept telling friends I was there with ” you have to feel this!” They thought I was crazy, until they held it themselves.Aaaaaahhhhhh!

    This year we remodeled our kitchen and bathrooms, and all or handles and knobs were chosen by touch first: I have hypothyroidism, and get carpal tunnel symptoms and hand cramps when my thyroid levels are out of whack, so touch is the big issue. I love that my handles and knobs are ergonomic dreams.

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