For the past few years, I’ve had some fun shopping trips away from home. Each time, I’ve been a bit giddy at the prospect of finding something unique, that I wouldn’t be able to buy in my home town. I quickly realized that shopping while traveling can be a bit stressful. First of all, there’s a time limit. Second, if you don’t know the brands, you have to figure out your size. Third, returns can be difficult, if they are possible at all. Given these challenges, I’ve made my share of shopping mistakes! But I’ve also figured out that a little preparation can prevent those mistakes. These fixes also apply when you’re shopping locally, so read this post before your next shopping venture…
Mistake #1: Not Knowing What’s In Your Closet
Unless you have a tiny capsule wardrobe or a photographic memory, you’re likely to forget some of the items in your closet. You may end up buying duplicates or odd pieces that don’t match anything you already own.
Fix#1: Take one or more photos of your closet to jog your memory when you’re at the store.
If you have the time, take photos of each item and organize the photos into albums by category (tops, bottoms, shoes, etc.) That’s essentially what a closet app requires, except that you have to upload the photos to the app.
At the very least, take photos of items that you are trying to coordinate. For example, if you have a skirt that fits but doesn’t look good with anything else you own, take a photo. It will help you or the salesperson find coordinating tops.
Mistake # 2: Having A Very Specific List
Before I went to Chicago, I had a very specific list in my mind. I even did my research online. I wanted a multi-color floral midi skirt, a white silk long sleeved blouse, and a navy dress. Guess how many of those I bought? Just one (the silk blouse). I simply couldn’t find the others in my size or within my budget (i.e. on sale at the time.)
Fix # 2: Make a list that’s flexible. That skirt that I mentioned in the last paragraph? Instead of looking for a specific blouse to go with it, give yourself a few options. Would it work with a cropped shirt as well as a wrap blouse? Does it look good with a solid as well as a floral print top? Who knows, you may even end up finding a few different options for that one skirt.
Mistake #3: Asking For Advice From The Wrong Person
Because I was pressed for time during my out-of-town trips, I often enlisted the help of a salesperson. After describing all the things that I was looking for, I often found myself in the dressing room with a dozen pieces that I didn’t really want. Sometimes, I didn’t explain myself well. At other times it was because they just couldn’t relate to my lifestyle. (A sheer white t-shirt for $165? Not for this mom!)
Fix # 3: Ask for help with one or two specific items to see if they understand your style. If they don’t, move on. When I explained that I was looking for a plain silk blouse to wear with my silk scarves, one salesperson brought me several pieces that weren’t even on the floor. He understood that they were exactly what I wanted. I ended up buying (and loving) three blouses and a dress that day.
Mistake #4: Buying It Just Because It’s On Sale
Oh, a bargain is one of the hardest shopping mistakes for t
Fix #4: Imagine you are buying it at regular price? Do you still love/want/need it? If you really want some tough love, use the regular price in your budget (i.e. take out the $129 regular price out of your spending budget, rather than the $79 sale price.)
I bought this little bag as I was running out of Bloomingdales to get to the airport for my flight back home. It was on sale and was too cute to leave behind. Six months later, I’ve used it twice, because it’s too small for my phone! I won’t call it a shopping failure, but I should have done my research a little better.
Mistake #5: Assuming It Fits
If you’ve read the post about my Fashion Emergency Kit, you’ll know that sizing varies from brand to brand, and even within a brand. Even when a brand is consistent in their sizing, a different shape or style can make a difference in fit. Wherever possible, try before you buy.
Most dressing rooms have multiple mirrors, so you can check your outfit from every angle (yes, even the back view.) Take a selfie. You’ll notice details in a photo that you won’t see when you’re looking in the mirror.
Fix #6: When I shop away from home, I make sure I walk, sit, move, and view from multiple angles.
I bought this dress over a year ago but didn’t realize until I took the tags off that it is a bit snug in the back. Sure, I’m working on losing a few pounds but had I looked carefully in the mirror, I might have given this one a pass.
Mistake #6: Buying Trends
Unless you have an unlimited budget, you want to avoid buying the trendiest items. I was captivated by a handbag that was literally on a pedestal, at the store. It was certainly eye-catching, on-trend and been featured all over social media. When I walked away from it though, I realized that it really didn’t work for my lifestyle.
Fix#6: Put it on hold, and revisit it at the end of your shopping trip. Did you already use up your budget on items you actually need? Or did you buy enough basic pieces, and still need that one “pop” item.
Mistake #7: Overspending
Overspending is one of the most common shopping mistakes because stores are designed to make you want to buy their stuff. It’s really easy to overspend when you get caught up in the excitement of being somewhere new, taking advantage of a huge sale or just haven’t shopped in a while.
Fix# 8: Give yourself a budget and stick to it.
What Shopping Mistakes Have You Made?
Share your shopping mistakes in the comments below and we’ll find solutions to them together.