Here’s a paradox for you: I love having a closet full of beautiful clothes but I hate to shop. Hate it. I don’t mind shopping for someone else — that’s fun — but shopping for myself is a pain. Especially if I’m under any pressure, like trying to find an outfit for an event.
Gwyneth Paltrow’s picks for fall. I wonder if she would shop for me?
Shopping stress comes from three things: not knowing what you need, not knowing what fits, and not knowing what’s out there. Here’s how to deal with those three issues and make shopping fun again. Or at least not (as) painful.
Make a list. Before you head for the mall — or that fabulous boutique — take some time to assess what you have and what you need. Set aside an afternoon or evening to try on everything in your closet and see what’s missing and what needs to be replaced — and what’s working. Once you hit the stores, don’t buy anything that’s not on your list but do make an effort to find the things you need. A little bit of shopping now can mean less shopping — and less stress — later.
Identify your brands. I shop almost exclusively at J. Crew and the Gap, because I know that their clothes will work for me; they’re the right size and shape, the right price point, and the right style. I know that what I buy will work with what I own, which means that I don’t have to shop for entire outfits. I’m also familiar with the layout of the stores, which means less time wasted looking for specific things.
Preshop the Internet. Once you know what brands work for you, take some time to browse their websites. I find this significantly less stressful than actually going to the store, for a lot of reasons: I don’t have to park my car or dodge overly helpful salespeople or smell the in-store perfume. It’s also helpful for me to know what’s available before I commit to a trip to the mall. I still like to see everything in person and try it on in the dressing room, but a little preview takes my stress level down significantly.
Know your shopping style. Some people really benefit from shopping with another person — a spouse or trusted friend. I’m a lone shopper; while I don’t dislike going shopping with other people, I would rather be on my own. In fact, if I’m with other people, I prefer to be shopping for them, not for me. (I also prefer to run alone, so make of that what you will.) Do whatever makes you comfortable, though — if you need a cheerleader or some moral support or just someone to make you laugh, take a friend. If you don’t want to hear any voices besides the one in your head, strike out alone.
Double check the return policy. Most stores these days have pretty generous return policies, particularly if you’re shopping at a big chain. Keep your receipts, and leave the tags on everything for a few days after you buy. If you change your mind about something, don’t be afraid to take it back — no harm done.
What are your strategies for making shopping less stressful?
Photo via J. Crew