7 Ways To Shop With Success

May 08, 2015

Have you ever just bought something . . .

. . .  just because it fit?

. . . that didn't quite fit but you're sure you're going to drop those extra kilos any minute now?

. . . because it was an expensive brand marked down to super cheap?

. . . you thought might work with the right underwear or shoes?

. . . after you’d spent the day traipsing the shops looking for an item to wear to a particular event and you were in the last remaining shop with no better options?

. . . because you’d driven 26 kilometres out to the factory outlet centre and were damned if you were going to leave empty-handed?

. . . because you found a really good online promo code or coupon that couldn't go unused?

Unfortunately, I can say yes to all of the above (multiple times), and it’s something I’m trying to change. Maybe you are too. Let's work through it together.

Fit vs Flatter

If you're not blessed with the kind of rig that can buy off the rack without trying it on, you've almost certainly done this, and multiple times if you have a harder-to-fit body. When you do get something that fits and doesn't look a complete hot mess, you think, “well, that’s better than nothing” and snag it. Then the first time you attempt to wear it, you feel rubbish because it isn't cute. It's just meh. Worse if you’ve already popped the tags and snipped off the hanging straps (how I hate hanging straps!) so there’s no chance of a return (unless you're one of those incredible blaggers with no shame). I’m slowly learning to keep receipts and leave the tags on until I’m absolutely certain it’s a keeper. Where once I felt complete mortification returning an item for change of mind, now I exercise my consumer rights and whip it back for a refund or exchange. This also applies to online shopping. Shop from websites that have free or local returns and use them!

Also, try things on. Yes, it's a pain to peel off multiple layers, relace shoes and it messes up your hair but it could save a trip back to the store in the long run. I'm looking at you, Mum!

Buy for the size you are

Not the size you want to be (or think you should be). Those jeans may well look amazing if only you dropped those pesky couple of kgs but in the meantime, it’s just another wrong item chilling in your wardrobe, taking up space and decimating your clothing budget. It also gives a false sense of clothing security if you have an overstuffed wardrobe but can't actually happily wear anything in it. If you’re in the process of some serious weight change and aren’t yet at your goal, maybe get a few cheap basics to tide you over or Google some no-sew fixes to get mileage out of your bigger sizes. And don't be [mis]guided by sizes on the labels - they are virtually meaningless. My wardrobe has everything from XS to XL, 8 to 14. Buy what flatters. Who cares what the label says. Cut it off if it bothers you that much!

Expensive/designer items can still be ugly!

Sure, it might be a desirable name on the label and you have a good idea of what it would have cost at full price, new in the store. That doesn’t automatically mean it’s cute! I once dithered over an aubergine tuxedo jacket with white crepe lapels, simply because it had a Cue label and was $5.99 at Savers. I still would have looked like an eggplant in it regardless. As tempting as it can be to pick up something with an original three-figure price tag, ugly is as ugly does and money can't buy sense. Or taste.

Will it work with the right underwear/shoes?

If you’re embarking on a dedicated shopping mission, wearing the right underwear helps a lot during the try-on process but there’s no predicting a bargain and sometimes we enter the change rooms unprepared. Colour you can work with – a black bra under a light coloured top is easily accounted for. No problem. When it comes to fit, you can give a bit of leeway but be real; there is only so much that shapewear can do for us. Consider the item you’re buying. Most of us can stand (and expect!) restrictive shapewear for a formal event, it tends to go with the territory. But do you really want to be squeezing into your Spanx in order to wear a casual stretch cotton maxi skirt to a family barbecue in the middle of summer? (Spoiler alert: no, you do not). Keep the receipt just in case your miracle shapewear isn’t that miraculous.

Some places have heels you can borrow to assess your look, although this is usually confined to formal dress shops. A tippy-toe can only get you so far. Try and visualise your existing shoe collection and whether you have at least one pair that will not just “go” but complete the outfit. Or, hey, buy a new pair, I’m not judging. 

Event shopping

So you had an outfit in mind, and for whatever reason, it’s fallen through or didn’t look as good as you’d hoped. Maybe you've just noticed it’s torn or stained. This is why I'd be doing a fashion parade try-on session a couple of weeks beforehand, depending on the formality and importance of the occasion, so you can plan a back-up accordingly. I remember working my way through a pile of dresses in Myer in an increasingly-heightened state of panic the day before a friend’s wedding when a previously fail-safe option had, in fact, failed. The dress I ended up buying (for a lot of money) didn’t even look that good and I gave it away shortly after. Boo. Maybe you can borrow from a friend? Let them wear it first though!

I’ve come so far!

Speaking as someone who has indeed driven the 26 kilometres out to Harbour Town only to be met with ugly out-of-season stock or available sizes being either 6 or 16, this is certainly a frustrating experience and it is difficult not to start panic-buying peplum items in the last available shop. This frustration is compounded if you've gone along with somebody else who is cheerfully laden with bargain buys. If you desperately need to not leave empty-handed (and trust me, I feel you on this), expand your search. Get a scarf, a necklace, a pair of fun cheap sunnies. I can almost always find a decent accessory of some sort. Or drop into Target on your way home, whatevs.

But it's a bargain! 

I am a sucker for a promo code. Signing up to brand emails is a good way to get the heads-up on these and I admit to many an impulse buy from a good percentage-off flash sale alert. Also, prior to any online purchase, I do a quick Google for any available coupon action. Recently, I discovered a new site to add to my favourites, CupoNation, which has coupon codes available for some of my favoured online retailers, including ASOS and The Iconic

That said, it may well be a "take a further 10% off sale items that are already 70% off" deal . . . it doesn't mean there's anything that's actually cute still left. Know when to close the window and walk away. WALK. AWAY.

However, if there are still some amazing bargains left, BUY BUY BUY!!

(Just make sure you can always return or exchange, all right?)


Disclosure: I have received payment for writing this post. For more information, please see my PR and Media policy.

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  1. These are great tips! I'm certainly guilty of so many of them! I'm trying to be a lot more aware why I'm buying things, and I've set myself a goal of wearing something twice in the month after I buy it. it means that I'm only buying stuff I can use now and that fits my lifestyle, not for some magical even that I might go to later (which of course never materialises), and it's something I can honestly see looking different at least twice and that will work with other thing sin my wardrobe.

    I'm also starting to embrace the return more now too! If it's not perfect and I have the chance to return it, it's much better to do that in the long run than hold onto it and get rid of it later when I find the perfect thing to replace it with! :)

  2. I hear you! So sick of going "oh that's not too bad and it's cheap so might as well get it", then it just sits there being ordinary and making me think I have more options than I do! I'm also trying to be more ruthless in my clean-outs. If something isn't really that great or I can only wear it with a certain top, or I always feel indifferent about it when I put it on, then off to Savers it goes (to make more room for stuff from Savers!)

  3. I've been guilty of buying a few things because they were a bargin.

  4. I'm so guilty of many of these. And spending just because I have a spend and save voucher! Terrible habit not to mention expensive! Thanks for sharing and linking up to the Ultimate Rabbit Hole xx

    1. The old spend and save suckeroo, they know how to get you, don't they???

  5. Great tips! I'm super good at spending $50 because I have a $10 voucher! My other pet hate is paying for postage, so if there's a free postage over $X amount, then I usually find myself spending more to save postage. Yep. And I wonder why my wardrobe is stuffed!

    1. Oh, paying for shipping goes against everything I believe in! So you better believe I will get a voucher then spend up so I can get to a dollar over the free shipping amount!!