When “Good Enough” is no Longer Good Enough For You


I hate shopping now. I used to be a “good enough” buyer and now I know what I want and can’t find it. I’m not sure if I’m being too picky or not allocating enough time or not going to the right stores, but I’m frustrated at having needs I can’t fulfil. For example, I love striped tops and I can’t find ones that don’t have white or black (which really don’t work for me.) I also need some booties and I can’t find ones that aren’t too cheap or too expensive, or in suede which doesn’t’ work for snowy and wet winters, or too high, or too narrow. Blah! I’ve just been giving up!

Contrast this with the new attitude of one of my fabulous 7 Steps to Style members…   who has learned lots about her style preferences and really understands what she’s after now

9 items arrived…..8 are going back. Only a stretchy bracelet with white, silver and aqua made the grade. I’m getting better at not making do. I used to get frustrated, now I’m just pleased to not settle for second-best. There are lots more things out there that deserve a place in my closet.  No longer do I beat myself up for being the wrong shape. 
It’s not me, it’s the clothes! 

I love it when good enough stops being good enough – it means that you’ve learned a lot about your style preferences and what works for you and you are no longer satisfied with the stuff that is served by your local store’s “stylist” who knows nothing about you or your style.  It means that you are empowered with knowledge and this is where the frustration can easily set in.

What to do when your standards in clothing and accessories rise as you learn more about your style and you're not longer satisfied with what used to be just good enough

Shopping for Clothes is Frequently Super Frustrating

Yes – you have no control over what is currently available in stores.  So I wrote this post with 8 tips to help you be more successful when you do shop.  Hopefully, when you become a better shopper you have more success, or like my second commenter – you start to develop a more positive attitude towards what can feel like failure after failure (and that it’s something wrong with you).

So arming yourself with the information you need to shop successfully, whether it’s in bricks and mortar stores or online, will help you.

Knowing what really works for you is also important as you can more easily understand why something doesn’t work, instead of thinking that there is something wrong with you – as I always say – it’s the clothes, not you that are wrong.  Give yourself a big old break (and a hug while you’re at it).

Why You’re Worth More than Good Enough

What’s most important I think here and what I think is fabulous about the second comment is that she has realised that the world is full of stuff that you can own and have in your closet and that you deserve better than OK or good enough.    You are a fabulous being, an amazing person with many beautiful qualities, and you are so much better than just deserving it’ll do or ok.

The world is your oyster these days – with the options in online shopping being so plentiful, not only can you scour your local stores, you have options across the globe.  You can have something made for you using an Etsy seller or a local dressmaker or you can just search the internet for what you’re after – from ebay to Amazon, to the millions of other small online retailers, as well as the department stores and high street options, there is actually loads of choice.  It’s just a matter of finding what you’re after and not settling for what isn’t right.

And yes, anything worth having takes a little effort.  Rarely does the perfect item just fall into your lap.  Though when it does it’s a day to celebrate!

The Best Wardrobes are Built Over Time

Expecting to find exactly what you want instantly is unlikely – or even to find lots of things in one shopping trip.  The best wardrobes are generally built up slowly over time as you stumble across fabulous pieces that you love, that fit, that works for you and that are great.  Keep your eyes open when you’re out and about – that’s often when you see the thing (not when you’re looking specifically).

How to Find What You’re After

So you’ve trawled your local stores to come up empty-handed, then how do you find what you’re actually after since you’re no longer settling for second best?

Crowdsource Options – this is a brilliant way of finding things you’d not known about and stores that you’ve never heard of – why not join a group of women interested in their style like my Inside Out Style Lounge on Facebook and then you can ask for recommendations from other members.

Pinterest – use it as a search engine and pop in what you’re looking for – there is a good chance that someone has pinned an image that inspires or delights you and you can find out where it’s from.

PolyvorePolyvore is a brilliant search engine for fashion and accessories as many stores upload their garments into it.  You can search on type, colour, style, patterns etc. so narrow down what you’re after and find possible retailers to peruse.

Amazon – the Amazon marketplace has lots of individual sellers and brands selling through its online presence, giving you a great way to search for specific items.

Etsy – I love Etsy for its unique pieces and variety – when you want something that is totally different from the high street and department store fodder, this is the place to go.

Renovate – yes, we renovate our houses, but how often do many of us renovate our clothing?  Remember that alterations are not a sign of failure!  You can dye, you can change necklines, you can add sleeves, shorten sleeves, remove sleeves, add detailing, take buttons and detailing off ….. the list goes on and only stops where your imagination stops.  Here’s a little example of a recent renovation of mine:

So I had this striped top from Zara from 2015 and it was black and white.  It wasn’t a bad top, but the stripe was a bit too high-value contrast for me.

Renovate your clothing - make alterations to make them work better for you

Rather than get rid of it, I decided to throw it in the washing machine with a packet of dye and overdye it to a denim blue that is a signature eye colour for me.

Renovate your clothing - make alterations to make them work better for you

The dye reduced the value contrast.  And then I took off the tag and decided to wear it backwards as it had an interesting panel across the back that I thought I’d turn to the front. I like it much better now and it will work really well with my indigo denim jeans to create a slimming column of colour too.

Make It Yourself – so you can’t find good enough?  The fit not right?  The fabrics you don’t like?  Well, why not make it yourself.  Take a sewing class and start to craft your own garments and build a wardrobe that is just right for you.

Patience and Realistic Expectations are Key

Have Patience – yes this is the hardest thing – sometimes what you want isn’t available, but maybe next week, next month or next year it will be available in every colour and style imaginable.   So sometimes it may take a little more time to source what you’re after.

Set Realistic Expectations – unless you’re having everything made for you to your specific measurements, from fabrics you choose in colours that are perfect, sometimes getting good enough from a store knowing that you can make it great with a simple alteration is enough, but it’s making that alteration to take if from OK to great that is super important to do.

Knowledge is Power – the more you learn about your style and your personality, what works in colours and styles, for your lifestyle, your values and your personality – the better your choices can be and you no longer settle for the good enough items.  There are thousands of blog posts here to help you – and if you’d like additional information and my personal opinion on your colouring and shape – you can get this as part of my 7 Steps to Style program.

Which are the Easy Alterations

How Not to Buy Crap Ever Again

Are You a Weapon of Mass Consumption?

6 Online Shopping Tips to Help You Get the Right Colour

The 7 Words That You Must Know That Tell You the Colour of the Garment That You’re Trying On is Completely Wrong For You

How to Love Everything in Your Wardrobe More

Why Living with a 3D Body in a 2D Fashion World Makes Shopping Such a Nightmare

How to Thrift Shop Like a Pro



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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  • Amen! Two of two pairs of white pants that arrived yesterday are going back on Saturday because they were good but not great. It is wonderful to have come to that point (as much patience as is indeed required) — thank you so much for the knowledge and confidence to be able to just say no.

  • Imogen, thank you for bringing up the option of making it yourself. I certainly understand that not everyone is in the position to undertake garment-sewing, but if you have the least interest in it, I would recommend giving it a try. It is very freeing to browse the garment racks, see nothing that meets both my size and style requirements, and know that I could sew what I want for myself. (Speaking of which, now I have to get back my biggest sewing challenge–fitting pants. However difficult that is, it beats shopping for them!)

  • I love thrift shopping. It’s a great way to try new things that I might otherwise pass on if I had to pay retail for it. If it doesn’t work I donate it back. It’s also a great way to shop around without having to visit dozens of stores. I’ve found name brand items that come from stores that I would NEVER shop retail at because they are so expensive. I get high quality items for a fraction of the price.

    It also presents a lot of opportunities for creativity. I feel more confident to play when I know that if the project does not come out as envisioned I am only out a couple of bucks compared to paying retail for something. When successful I end up with some truly unique pieces that I take a lot of pride in.

  • I think we all have fitting challenges, but some us have a more difficult time than others. There have been stages in my life ( after pregnancy, starting a career, choosing a mother of the bride dress) that I needed clothes immediately, and I was just thankful that I found anything at all that would fit. Having it look good was a bonus! Thankfully, I now can be more selective.

    • You are so right Anne that the more our body doesn’t fit “manufacturing standard” the harder it is to find great- this is often where tailoring or making it yourself come into the picture.

  • Hi Imogen
    thanks for your article. You seem to be reading my mind as this was something I though about a lot just recently – that’s it is so hard to find the right clothes just because you know what you want.

    I do shop a lot online due to my (plus) size and style requirements – but I do feel bad about the ecological dimension of sending back a lot of stuff. I live in a big city and I don’t like contributing to more traffic and bad air. I don’t know if there is a solution to this because there is not a large range of plus size clothes in regular stores and not a lot plus size clothes in (quality) second hand stores. I wish I had an alternative, but I can’t think of one.

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