How to Shop

Posted by The Wizzle | Posted on Friday, October 7, 2011 at 8:48 PM


I've been doing a lot of shopping this week.

(Probably because as of tonight, my husband, parents, and in-laws are all out of town. And my kids have school off next week. Some people eat, I shop. It's not good, but it could be worse, I guess. If I ate, I would still have to buy the food, and then eat it.)


So I found this great blouse (pictured!) at Goodwill, and took this photo to send to my sister, who is also genetically predisposed to shop. As I was telling her about my find, I thought of all the reasons it was a great one, and I thought I might just write out all the things I think about when I'm bringing something new into my closet.

I have expensive taste. I like nice things. And sometimes, if I have birthday money, or a treat coming, I splurge: buy things at full-service shops or at full price. But more often, I have to get creative to satisfy my wardrobe deficiencies. A large portion of my closet is from thrift stores or Last Chance.

But the truth is, I shop exactly the same way at Barney's and Goodwill. I'm really, really, really picky. So I think it makes a lot more sense to buy items that can last you a long time, because otherwise they're not worth the time and effort you put into choosing them in the first place.

Now, I'm not touching on how to dress for your figure, or how to find your own personal style, or how to mix patterns, or anything like that. This is just knowing what you like, and what looks good on you, and just how to shop with a critical eye - no matter what your budget!

So, how do I do it?

1. Do I like this? Duh. First step, always.

2. Do I need it? This is subjective, of course. Did I need another pair of boots today? No. But did the pair I bought fill a hole in my wardrobe? Absolutely. Keep a rough mental (or physical!) list of items that would help fill out your closet and give you more options. Then you'll be on the lookout for them, and be less likely to buy the same things over and over.

3. Is the fabric good quality? As soon as you pick something up, you can tell if it feels nice or not. The fabric should feel beautiful, drape well, not be pilly or faded, and not crackle or itch. If I like the way it feels to my hand, I check the label. Silk, wool, cotton - good. Polyester, acrylic, nylon - bad.

4. Does it fit into my wardrobe? I don't want a whole closet full of one color, but if I can't think of at least 2 outfits that could be made with a given item, I don't even try it on.

5. Does it fit me? This doesn't mean "it doesn't fall off". It means it makes you look awesome. Don't be lazy! There are clothes out there that will show you to your best advantage, and if you try enough on, you will figure out what they are. Then don't settle for anything less!

6. Can it be made to fit? If you have a particular figure quirk, like short legs, or a large chest, or a big round backside, you will get used to having things tailored. Always buy to fit your largest feature. For example: when I buy pants, I count on having the waist taken in to allow room for my curvy hips and, um, athletic thighs and rear end. When I buy a dress, I assume I will need the shoulders taken up because my upper half is significantly more dainty than my lower. If I find an item, or better yet a whole brand, that I can wear "as is" in these areas, then I keep a special eye out for it. Buying quality items in the first place makes having them tailored worth the investment, and I promise you will like the results!

7. What is the care of the item going to be? I don't mind having to have an item dry-cleaned, but because of the nature of my life, these need to be the exception and not the rule. Even if an item can be cleaned at home, does it have a lot of fiddly pleats and ruffles that will make it impossible for me to press? If an item needs dry-cleaning, a darker color or especially a print will help me squeak out a couple of extra wearings in between.

8. Think value, not just price. Of course, everyone has a budget. But there is more to consider than simply the number on the tag. Think of it in terms of "cost per wear". Buy the best quality you can, and buy wisely for your own life. I tried on a gorgeous black blazer this morning - perfect fit, high quality, amazing price. But how often would I wear a suit jacket? Even though it was a great bargain, it wasn't a good buy for me personally at that moment, so I left it behind. On the other hand, I will pay a lot of money for a great printed jersey dress, or a pair of jeans, that will hide dirty fingerprints, take me to lunches out and the playground with equal aplomb, and last me for years.

Today's joy: Talking to my sister. A lot. She's just great.

Comments (2)

Rachel, I am a lot like you. I love to shop. I probably shop too much. And one of my all-time favorite things to do is shop for someone else---like making the entire experience at the store be about them. so fun! i've promised Emily this experience in the near future at some point.

And I agree, Emily is the best. You guys are lucky to have each other! I have three sisters and they really are awesome to have. I wish mine lived closer :)


Rachel! How did I miss this? You are so sweet! I love you back--you know it! You're the best. How nice to stumble upon some lovely comments and not even know they were being said about you. (Thanks Erin!)

I am so glad I have you, Rachel. It is such a gift having a sister like you. Mwah!