I often hear from women just how frustrating shopping can be. My clients tell me when we’re on a personal shopping expedition that they normally give up really quickly, and my online community of 7 Steps to Style members has also let me know just how dissatisfying and unfruitful a shopping trip can be.
My advice is to change your expectations and reframe your experience. Now I’m going to share with you some of my professional shopping experience so you will feel more empowered next time you go shopping, plus these tips will save you money as they help you stop buying the wrong clothes.
How to Become a Successful Shopper
How do you turn a shopping trip which yields nothing great into something worthwhile?
In my experience, the way to do this is to consider it to be a learning experience.
Shopping brings out the ancient “hunter/gatherer” instinct in us. We have to bring home the kill, the berries, the fruits of our labour. We are innately programmed to do so. If we come home empty handed we feel that we have “failed” in our mission.
Yet, frequently there is little in the stores for us. Sure you may see thousands of garments in a department store, but really only 10-20 of those may be possible (worth trying on because they suit your lifestyle, wardrobe gaps, personality, body shape, colouring, proportions, and other needs), and from that small number, how many are really great? How many fit you? How many really work? Often from that it will be 5 or less (and sometimes that means a big zero).
I love hearing when a client of mine who has learned about her style tells me that instead of feeling disappointed when she went shopping and brought home nothing. Instead she feels empowered. She knew there was nothing there for her. She was not talked into buying something by a sales assistant that would have been a mistake.
Feeling empowered rather than disappointed is an enormous win!
There is no point in buying something that doesn’t tick your boxes, that isn’t representative of your style recipe, and that fits poorly.
There is no point in buying replicas of garments you already have if they are not filling a wardrobe hole.
Instead, as one of my clever 7 Steppers said recently in a Facebook conversation after a webinar:
My lightbulb moment was when you explained that shopping trips triggered the hunter/gatherer instincts in us all. I need to treat the shopping experience more like a chemistry class in school. 7 Steps provides the lectures, shopping expeditions should be like chem lab — all about preparation, experimentation, and documentation of the results. If I learn a single fact from a brick-and-mortar trip, the lab will be considered a success. Thank you!
I treat my own shopping trips as exploratory missions. Finding out what is currently in fashion, the colours, and styles, what I do and don’t like. Trying on for the sake of seeing how something will work on my body. Discovering more about me.
I see shopping as research.
I don’t take clothes that don’t fit or don’t suit my body as a personal affront, or that there is something wrong with me (remember, it’s the clothes, not your body). And I know that the majority of the stuff in stores is not for me.
One Strategy to Stop You Buying Crap and Save Money
There is no point in filling your wardrobe with crap – those pieces that don’t tick all your boxes.
What to do?
Rate your purchases.
Before you leave the store, rate the garment on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being perfect and 1 being crap.
Then don’t leave the store without it being at least and 8.
When you get home, in the cold light and your own mirror, put the garment on again and rate it again (sometimes the lighting or the skinny mirror, or just the sensory experience of shopping may get the better of you).
If it doesn’t live up to that 8 -10 rating, then take it back!
So, your new shopping mantra? “Make it an 8!”
And view your shopping trips as a scientific experiment, not a hunting trip.
That way, you will learn so much more about your likes and dislikes, your body, colouring, fabric and texture preferences plus so much more.
In the words of another of my fabulous 7 Steppers:
- Don’t get discouraged
- Don’t buy crap
- Use every shopping trip as a learning experience
How will using this strategy change the way you shop and feel about shopping?