Five Simple Steps That Will Make You A Smarter Shopper

So many women are familiar with - and frustrated by - the feeling of having a closet full of clothes and nothing to wear. How does this happen? How can women who love shopping and adore fashion end up with a wardrobe that stymies them?

In my experience working with women as a personal stylist, it all comes down to cohesion. Even if you're not interested in following style trends, and even if you make a practice of only buying items you love completely, you may end up with an impractical hodgepodge of items that can't be combined into easy, stylish outfits.

Because loving an item and knowing it'll suit your style are two different things. And collecting items that appeal to you aesthetically without considering how they'll fit into your current wardrobe will just create closet orphans.

So what's a girl to do?

Here are some exercises to tinker with that can help you become a smarter, more efficient shopper.

Identify a Style Icon

Know who has cohesive style? Celebrities. In many cases this is because they have professional stylists on staff, and most of us mere mortals cannot afford such a luxury. But if you can identify a celebrity whose style resonates with you and emulate her aesthetic as best you can using affordable clothes, you're indirectly accessing her stylist's guidance. Choosing a style icon also gives you a marvelous shopping shortcut: If you're considering a purchase, hold it up and ask yourself, "Would my style icon wear this?" If the answer is no, you can move along.

Create a Phrase to Describe Your Style

If you aren't a fan of celebrity culture or can't find a singer or movie star whose style you'd like to steal, fear not!

Honing in on a simple, concise phrase that describes your style can be equally helpful in a similar way. Spend some time in your closet looking at your key pieces, then start jotting down terms. Most people need to go beyond the simplest descriptors like "Boho" or "classic," and add a little depth with a few additional adjectives.

Are you a "quirky retro bombshell" or an "arty sculptural minimalist"? Once you know, give every potential purchase the same treatment: Would a quirky retro bombshell wear this? No? Leave it on the rack.

Limit your color palette

If you're a color lover, this one can be painful. But the fact is that a closet holding items from every color of the rainbow will be inefficient and overwhelming. Experiment with the typical palette configuration: Five base colors and three accent colors. You may want to dip into a little color theory to pick your palette, and also consider which colors look best against your complexion. Once you've settled on a set, you can walk into any store, and immediately identify the items that will work for you. You also eliminate about 80% of what's available, drastically simplifying your shopping practices.

Track your use patterns

The items that we adore aren't always the items we use most. You may love blazers and constantly gravitate toward them in stores, but if you're a stay at home mom you might spend most of your days in sweaters and jeans. Being aware of the items you wear the most can help you avoid buying items you wish you wore more.

Always be aware of your inventory

Raise your hand if you own five black cardigans. Yep, that's what I thought. The flip side of tracking your use patterns is inadvertently buying doubles of items you know are in constant rotation. It seems completely justifiable to buy multiple pairs of jeans if you live in jeans ... but if you've got three pairs of boot cuts in the drawer and only wear one, you're wasting your money. Know what you've got, and be honest with yourself about which wardrobe slots are already occupied.

By Sally McGraw
Shopping Tips Expert


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Lifestyle Magazine: Five Simple Steps That Will Make You A Smarter Shopper
Five Simple Steps That Will Make You A Smarter Shopper
Lifestyle Magazine
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