come shop with me! we’ll shop, we’ll shop away….

I get asked a lot for shopping advice. Friends, family members, and even random strangers have asked me from time to time for some tips on “how to shop”. I get a lot of “I just don’t really know where to start looking!” Or “I don’t think I have style”. Or my favorite one, “I just hate shopping….and I don’t really care. Will you just do it for me?” I like those people the most. Those people are a blank canvas to my inner shopping Renoir. Pure bliss.

I love to shop, but I didn’t always feel this way. Back in my younger days, shopping was following my mom around Beall’s or Macy’s while she picked out clothes for herself, then plopping myself down outside her dressing room while she tried them all on. Not able to wander alone, I would be forced to play the role of “gatekeeper and dress runner”. If my mom needed a different size, off I went to the rack to scoop up the new one, hurrying back and tossing the newly acquired item over the dressing room door for approval. I didn’t ever care to shop since it meant long hours of standing and waiting, mostly in departments that I didn’t really have an interest in. My idea of shopping back then was heading to the Junior’s section, snagging a few turtlenecks in various colors, maybe a couple of skorts tossed in, and calling it a day. In and out in 20 minutes was ideal. Anything else was considered a waste of my day.

So what changed? How did I learn to shop? And why do I consider it to be so enjoyable now?

Well, first off, I started to appreciate wearing clothes and putting together outfits. Once the act of dressing became enjoyable again, the desire to shop for new things to wear flourished. By the time high school rolled around and I could finally take good ol’ Mary Jane out on my own (Mary Jane is my Honda), I no longer had to bear the title of “gatekeeper and dress runner”. I got to shop where I wanted, and for what I wanted.

Now that we live in the online shopping age, and now that I am the proud owner of a few different MasterCards, my shopping interest has skyrocketed to a new level. Most days you can find me at lunch, a half eaten salad forgotten at my desk, my face glued to the computer screen as I scroll through pages of goodies at all my favorite shops. I’m not ashamed to admit I have an “on again, off again” relationship with our mail guy at work, it being “on again” when he brings me packages, and “off again” when I know something should have arrived, yet he fails to make an appearance at my office. I’ve referred so many people to GoJane that I’m thinking of pulling a “Monica” and fashioning a gold star for them, so that the next time I make a purchase, they can go ahead and give me the gold star if they’d like 🙂

I’ve also made it easier to shop because now I know what I want. Before, I was so scattered, so unsure of what would look good on me. I would walk into a store and not know where anything was, let alone where the things that would look good on me were. As I began to figure out my body type (hello soccer thighs and small waist!) and my style influences, I started honing in on specific stores, and even more so, specific sections of a store, knowing that looking at anything else really was a waste of time, either because it wouldn’t fit me, or it wasn’t my style. I have layouts of stores memorized now (sad, but true) so that I can walk in and head directly to a certain area depending on what I’m shopping for. The Northeast corner of Forever 21 at Grapevine Mills is usually where I find the cute maxi dresses, which play a major role in my wardrobe. I know that the upstairs section of H&M is mostly kids and men’s clothing, which saves me the stair climb each time I go. I know to park at Nordstroms at North Park if I want quick access to Urban Outfitters or Aveda. You may think it’s silly, knowing these things…and you’re probably right. I could be spending my time memorizing the periodic table or learning a new vocabulary word. Yeah, I could do that. But I don’t want to do that. I want to shop. And just like any other “sport” (because I firmly believe shopping IS an athletic activity! :)), in order to enjoy it more, I’ve got to learn the playing field. This also helps for when you are in a time crunch. I once put together an entire outfit for a formal dinner in less than 20 minutes all because I knew the layout of the mall. Dress, shoes, jewelry, and hair accessories. All from different stores. Now, if THAT doesn’t get me the fake gold star I made, I don’t know what does….(I kid, I kid, but seriously…)

Shopping can be fun! You just need to go in with a plan, know what you like, and remember that not everything you find is going to look good. But just like anything else in life, if at first you don’t succeed (in this case, in the dressing room), try, try again!

And if you still don’t like shopping, take me with you, I’ll gladly take the reins. 🙂

Need some more help? Check out these sites for some great tips on taming the shopping beast:

  • Lucky Magazine – great source for shoppers of all types, giving tips, store directories, and more.
  • Fashion Indie – A site geared towards the more “forward thinking” shopper.
  • Street Peeper – You can literally imitate people on the street, copying looks from individuals all over the world.
  • The Budget Fashionista – Getting tips and tricks for half the cost!

hearts and hugs,

B.

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