Shops have been open for a month now but many are feeling too overwhelmed to head out for a much anticipated spree - here's how to achieve an effective, efficient and stress-free shopping experience....
· Anna Mewes | Personal Stylist & Writer
As you will know by now, I shop for a living (among other things) – and I love it.
When I tell people what I do I think they probably envisage me swanning around the stores, without a care in the world , a huge budget at my disposal and my pick of any item I many choose for my clients.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m pretty good at swanning around, but not when I’m with a client. In actual fact my job is to make the whole shopping experience as efficient and successful as possible – which can sometimes be quite a bit of pressure and even more so in the current climate when certain restrictions are still in place.
Not only that, when someone is paying you to help them shop it needs to be focused (and fun) in order to get the most out of our time together. I also need to make sure the list of items I’ve been given is fulfilled and that we stick to our shopping budget.
In the ten years I’ve worked as a personal stylist I’ve shopped with thousands of clients who each have different style preferences, budgets and priorities to consider – so I’ve learnt a few tricks and tips along the way.
In this week’s post I’m going to share some of my top shopping tips to help you feel less overwhelmed when you do decide to go back into stores.
Before You Hit The Shops…
Have a good audit of your Spring/Summer items (include outerwear, footwear and bags), get rid of anything that isn’t working and then identify the gaps (mood boards are great for this) – any item you keep needs to be styled in three different ways (I call this shopping your wardrobe). This exercise helps identify the gaps and really forces you to get creative with your existing wardrobe – which is exactly what we want. Most women wear 20% of their wardrobe 80% of the time so there are bound to be outfit combinations in there you hadn’t thought of as well as items you’ve forgotten about which may mean you don’t have as much on your shopping list as you originally thought.
Identify Your Colour Palette
If you’ve had your colours done you’ll know which shades work for you and can use your colour swatches as guidance for shades to add that will complement what you already own. It may be that neutrals are working for you this season and you want to stick with that theme, on the other hand you may wish to inject some vibrancy – whatever your approach make sure you have a good idea of the colours you want in your wardrobe for the season ahead and that they work together to form cohesive, flattering outfit combinations.
Make A List
This is crucial to stop you aimlessly browsing and losing focus when you’re in the shops. Have a very clear idea of what you need and write it down. DO NOT DEVIATE FROM THE LIST! This is HARD, especially when you see those gorgeous shoes that are just calling your name BUT the goal is to buy just what you need and invest as much as you can in each individual item. If you start picking things up at random you’re going to have to compromise on the things that really are gaps in your existing wardrobe.
Set A Budget
It sounds obvious but setting a budget for the trip has two main benefits; firstly, you’re not going to overspend and secondly, it will help you stay focused on the list you’ve made. My mantra is ‘buy less, buy better’ so once you have a list and overall budget make a note of roughly how much you want to spend on each item to ensure you’re setting yourself an achievable goal. If it doesn’t look like you can get good quality items for everything on the list then prioritise what you need now and save up for anything that can wait. I often find if you buy cheap, you buy twice so far better to wait a little bit then purchase something that has been poorly made and will need replacing after a few wears anyway.
At The Shops
I’d recommend mid-week morning – get there as the shops open and you’ll be in and out before the lunchtime rush.
Start At A Department Store
I will often start a personal shop at John Lewis as they have a few different brands to choose from so you have a little variety and the opportunity to tick a few things off your list in one shop. You can then move on to specific stores that you’ve already ear-marked to fulfil the rest of your list. Starting off well is key to how the rest of the trip will go so if not a department store head for somewhere you know works well for you and you’ve had success with before.
Keep An Open Mind
One of the biggest pieces of feedback I get from my clients is that they end up buying items they LOVE but would never have picked up themselves. This is often because we get a bit blinkered to trying new things and tend to stick to our style comfort zone. Explore colours that you haven’t tried before, grab that jumpsuit that looks lovely but you’re not 100% sure about. You’re in the changing room trying things on anyway so take the opportunity to try a few ‘wild cards’ too, there’s a high chance you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Set The Bar HIGH
Do not buy anything that doesn’t make you feel FAB-U-LOUS (at least an 8/10) – nothing less will do. You deserve the best, you deserve to feel amazing every single day – don’t settle for anything less, there will always be another pair of jeans, a different dress that flatters you better, or shoes that a bit more comfortable, you just haven’t found them yet. You don’t have to go for the first thing you see and you don’t have to ‘make do’.
Relax & Enjoy!
We’re shopping here ladies not performing brain surgery so whilst it may feel a little overwhelming and stressful at times I hope the pointers in this post will elevate some of those concerns. I like to plan regular coffee/cake stops into the trip and will often end with a glass of bubbles or delicious lunch. Treat it as an experience to be enjoyed and not a chore – or take me with you and I’ll do all the hard work 😉
Until next time