Shopping – most of us either love it or loathe it. If you count yourself among the latter, here’s some useful tips that will make a trip to your local shopping centre a whole lot less traumatic.
Fashion designer Henry Holland is dusting off his shop-assistant’s badge to help guide shoppers through the trauma of the changing room in his hotly anticipated show The Changing Room.
He’ll be there to cover all the tears, tantrums and triumphs, as well as offering sage advice to shoppers who insist on buying bargains they’ll never wear, clothes that don’t fit, and tragic trend pieces that are better left to leggy socialites.
So if you’re more fashion victim than fashionista, arm yourself with these nuggets of wisdom and you won’t go wrong.
BEFORE YOU HIT THE HIGH STREET
Know your size
We all fluctuate from time to time, so it pays to take some quick measurements before you go shopping and keep them handy on your phone. This includes your bust, waste and hip measurement, as well as your leg length.
Know what shapes fit you
It really does pay to know what compliments your silhouette. That goes for colour and proportions too. You’ll save loads of time not trying on clothes that will never look good on you.
Find a trusted friend
“Sometimes you need a voice of reason when you actually look like an idiot,” says Henry - and maybe he’s got a point. Some people prefer to shop alone, but if you are taking a friend, take someone whose opinion you respect, keeping in mind that you should always have the last say.
Know what you need
Many of us play it safe by buying things we’re familiar with, only to find when we get home we’ve already got 10 of those black shirts in our wardrobe. In other cases, we get distracted by every luring table display and buy things that don’t go with anything else we’ve got. Ask yourself what you really need – even if that means pulling everything out of your wardrobe. A good place to start is your investment pieces, and then work out where you can fill the gaps.
Wear comfy clothes
If you’re dedicating a day to shopping, wear clothes that are easy to get in and out of. That means slip on shoes, and simple separates that can help you imagine how it you can mix and match a piece with other items in your wardrobe.
WHEN YOU’RE SHOPPING
Take your cues off the mannequins
You’ve made it to the store and are completely bamboozled by the trends, colours, fits and flourishes. Sound familiar? Henry has some advice: “If you find it hard to pull together an outfit, look at the mannequins on the shop floor, look at the campaigns on the walls, try to get a feel of what’s around you rather than just what’s on the rack.”
Don’t get hung up on trends
Trends can be fun, but they can also lead to some bona fide fashion disasters.
“There’s often a lot of trends available to you all the time and I think it’s important not to get too caught up with any in particular,” says Henry. “I think people get stuck on what they think looks good, and what they think they should wear. But if you are justifying to yourself that you should buy something that’s on trend, you probably shouldn’t.”
Instead, Henry recommends going back to colours and silhouettes you know will suit your shape.
WHEN YOU'RE IN THE DRESSING ROOM
Take in a few sizes
Now you’ve found what you like, try on the size above and below as you won't always be the size you think you are. Also be honest with yourself – and that means buying what fits, regardless of what size is printed on the label!
“Don’t buy a dress that you think you’ll slim into, because you’re not going to!” says Henry.
Make sure the fit is PERFECT
It’s simple – if you don’t instantly love it, or if it almost fits - put it back!
Imagine yourself walking down the street in it and ask yourself, and if you're confident and comfortable in it, you’re on the right track!
Don’t be persuaded by pushy sales assistants
Remember that retail sales staff - no matter how nice - are paid to sell you clothes. Some are even based on commission. It’s in their interest to sell you as much as possible. This means, if they have to convince you to buy something, you should probably listen to your instincts.
ON THE WAY TO THE CHECKOUT
Can you afford it?
Are you guilty of buying things on sale, even if you didn’t love it? We’ve all fallen in this trap at some time, so don’t buy it unless you love it! The same goes for blowing a week’s wages on that gorgeous evening dress or sky-high pumps you know you’re only going to wear a couple of times. Save your money for investment pieces you will regularly wear, and rent that glitzy gown instead.
Will you wear it?
It looks great on, but do you have somewhere to wear it? Before you purchase your item of clothing, think about how it's going to fit into your lifestyle and think of three things you can wear it with. That way you’ll never waste money on things you won’t wear.
Take a last look
There’s nothing worse than getting your new hoard home only to find out your new favourite top has a ripped seam and you have to take it back. Look out for make up smudges and pulls, and test the zips a few times. If it has buttons or embellishments such as sequins, make sure it has a spares attached to the label.
Do you have any tips that help you when you’re shopping? Let us know by commenting below!
Tune into to the next episode of The Changing Room with Henry Holland on Lifestyle You at 8.35PM on February 2.