Preparation is key
Divide your wardrobe into sections – dresses, skirts, tops, trousers. then divide it again into colours. You’ll then be able to see at a glance what items you’re lacking and what you have too much of.
Buy a shopping notebook to help you when, for example, you try on dress and wish you had a certain necklace to go with it, or realise you have no shoes to match a particular skirt. you can then write it in your book to remind you next time you hit the high street.
When you spot things you like in magazines, rip out the page and put it in your bag. It will give you time to think carefully about whether or not it will ft your current wardrobe, whether it will suit you and where you might wear it.
Take a lightweight pair of heels with you when you go shopping and maybe a necklace to try on in the changing room. then you can see how an outft will look properly finished.
How many times have you stood in front of the mirror in the changing room and thought, ‘With a better bra or knickers it’ll be fine’, only to get home and discover it’s not! Always wear good, neutral-coloured underwear that smoothes out lumps and bumps for an accurate view in the fitting room.
What’s in store
Shop for shoes before your feet get hot and start to swell. No use trying them at the end of a day’s expedition.
If a top or dress will only look good on you after you’ve piled on the fake tan or make-up, then it’s not worth buying. You’ll never bother to go to all that trouble each time you want to wear it and it’ll just end up forgotten at the back of the wardrobe.
If it’s tight in the shop, it will be tight at home. Buy things that fit you now – you can always get them taken in when you do lose the weight.
Think outfit rather than item. However much you love something, if you can’t visualise it worn three different ways, it’s not a good investment.
If you’re shopping for a special occasion, plan for the circumstances. A tight dress requiring ‘suck-it-in’ undies will be uncomfortable at a wedding where most of the day you will be eating, drinking and sitting; similarly, fabric-covered heels are a disaster at certain outdoor events when you can easily get stuck in the grass, and if you’re the godmother at a christening, anything dry clean is out of the question!
Expensive shoes or a bag in the exact shade/fabric of a dress might look gorgeous on the mannequin but, seriously, how much use will you really get out of them? Remember, sales assistants are paid to tell you how good you look so, take a picture on your phone and send it to your husband/daughter/ best friend for an honest opinion.
Don’t be bullied Into buying. If you’re not sure, ask the shop assistant to hold the item for an hour. Then go and grab a coffee and check whether it’s on the store website. If it is, get it delivered. That way you can try it on in the comfort of your own home and see if it goes with anything else. And you can show it to people whose opinion you value.
If it’s cheap, it’s not necessarIly a bargain. However, the exception to that rule is whether it could be easily altered. Taking up a hemline, for example, or creating a dart is an inexpensive alteration, yet it could totally change an item – then you really will be quids in!
If you try on something fitted (a pencil skirt or swimsuit) in the morning, ask the store to hold it until after lunch. Unsurprisingly, we’re slimmest in the morning, so you need to try it on again later in the day – if you’re still happy with it after lunch, buy it.
Check the returns policy. If it’s exchange only rather than money back, are there other pieces you could switch it for if you change your mind? and if refunds have to be within a certain number of days, is the store easy for you to get back to?
The indoor rules
If you’ve bought a new pair of jeans, throw out the old ones or give them to charity. Never, ever stuff the new ones in next to the old ones.
Spend an hour wearing new shoes indoors to make sure they’re comfortable. If you wear them out just once, and they’re not right, you’ve lost the opportunity to take them back.
Try on new items as soon as you get home to check they really will work with your current wardrobe. Give them the once-over to check for any holes and remove any tags to make sure they don’t leave a mark. If you don’t do it straight away, you may miss the boat for a refund should there be a problem.
I love my style pro (£2.49 from Itunes), a personal fashion stylist app that helps you create new outfit combinations with your new purchases.