By Erika, Resident Fashionista
A majority of the clients I work with have no idea HOW to shop. In my own, completely unscientific, opinion I would say most people have no idea HOW to shop. I don’t mean that they do not know how to get to a store, pick something out, plunk down their cash or credit card, and take their new purchase home. That is very easy. My five-year-old niece understands how to do that. What I DO mean is that most people do not know how to think critically about their current wardrobe, their needs, their goals, and their bodies to make smart purchases. If everyone knew how to do this, I wouldn’t have much of a business model at YCS. And, by sharing my tips, I might be blogging myself right out of a job (probably not, though). Even so, I’m going to give you three of the ingredients in my “secret sauce” to help you become a better shopper.
1. Begin with Wardrobe Staples
Before you go out and buy a bunch of whole new pieces or items, make sure that you have the wardrobe staples in your closet. Just like with a home, a strong foundation is going to be the key in building up everything else. If your foundation is shaky then the rest of your wardrobe will be shaky. Wardrobe staples are the pieces that are classic, timeless, and anchor any look you will put together. A quick internet search for “wardrobe staples” or “wardrobe basics” will give you a plethora of results; therefore, to make your life easier, you can check out my list of wardrobe staples below:
- White, tailored button-down shirt
- Little Black Dress aka “LBD”
- Jeans that look and feel amazing
- Layering staples (including tank tops, camisoles, and t-shirts)
- A pair of well-fitting, tailored pants
- Structured blazer
- Black pumps
- Cute flats (i.e. ballet flats)
- Classic, structured handbag
Do you have all of these pieces in your wardrobe? If not, then before you add another item to your closet be sure to add these first! Make sure that you take your time when cultivating this part of your wardrobe. You want to make sure your pieces are quality, well-made, well-fitting items. It will take some time to find the perfect jeans for you or the most flattering LBD. Be sure to invest that time into yourself and your wardrobe. For those of you who already have these items, you can expand upon this list to include other staples like a clutch purse, trench coat, etc.
2. Know Thy Wardrobe
This seems so simple and so easy, however, so many of us have no idea what is hanging in our closet or lurking in our drawers. And this isn’t just a problem for people with large wardrobes – it is a problem for most anyone. How many times have you purchased something only to get home and realize you had something similar (or exactly the same) already hanging in your closet? Or, maybe you’re the opposite and you swear you have something in your closet, only to realize that it doesn’t actually exist behind the closet doors like you thought?
By knowing your wardrobe you will know what you own and where the gaps in your wardrobe are. You’ll also be able to spot redundancy, patterns, particularly flattering silhouettes or colors, and get an idea for your personal style. Call me a freak of nature, but I could probably name 70-80% of what is hanging in my closet right now. It makes shopping so much easier, particularly when you follow tip #3 below.
3. Do NOT Purchase “Outfits”
So many of my clients tell me that when they need to purchase something new – especially for an event – they will walk into a store, see an “outfit” on a mannequin, purchase the whole ensemble and then go about their business. Until the next time they need to purchase something new. Then, they go through this same routine all over again.
Shopping in this manner can become very expensive, very quickly. There is nothing wrong with purchasing a complete outfit as you see it in the store . . . except sometimes there is something wrong with that. Often, if you purchase the full outfit as you see it, you don’t actually have any idea if it will work on your body type. Stores have professionals who tell employees exactly how to style the mannequins. So, of course the outfits look great!! But when shopping for yourself you have to take much more into account than whether an outfit matches. Your body shape, coloring, and personal style are factors that trump cool looking mannequins every day of the week. Further, when you purchase complete “outfits” it is hard to see how any of the pieces can work in your closet individually. You’ll find yourself wearing the pieces of that outfit in the same way over and over again.
Instead of purchasing full outfits, enact my “Rule of Three” which states that if an item cannot be worn three different ways with items you already own then you do not buy it. Makes you think MUCH more critically about what you already own and what you will be adding to your wardrobe. It also gets you in the habit of paying attention to your wardrobe and building outfit options that will keep you from wearing the same items the same way. For example, I have featured the leather skirt below (via Dressbarn) several times on the YCS blog. I find new, creative ways to wear it all of the time. All of our wardrobe pieces should be so versatile.
As shown in “Chambray My Way“
As shown in “Chic Speaks“
As shown in “Inspired By: Kim Kardashian.”
These are a few tips to help you get started in cultivating, enhancing, or even minimizing your current wardrobe. Happy shopping!