Monday, March 12, 2012

More Shopping Thoughts

w00t! The comments regarding shopping were so great i decided to excerpt some in this post to make sure people don't miss these smart ideas.  After  i made this decision i spotted a couple of  blog links with very pertinent material on shopping that i want to present to you as well. Bingo - a post is born!

First, comment highlights. (Click through to read How To Make A Shopping Plan and How To Work A Shopping Plan). I've edited down the comments here, but if you are interested in the topic it is so worth your time to read them right through!

Our favorite deep thinker and 'bombshell on her day off' Vildy writes:

"I love clothes but I hate shopping. ....I'm happiest when I can spend under an hour. So I limit the stores I will go to. I also case them with a once over every now and then. I do much better when I don't have to perceive too many items too closely. I like to experiment with new ideas and I don't like spending much so I'm happiest with a few thrift stores I visit regularly, either weekly or monthly, where the stock doesn't change all that much. Makes it much easier for me to spot the new stuff plus in my favorite store they (sales staff) will pick out stuff for me and show it to me. And they're usually right, too.

I like what you said about not trying to force something to work.....If I put on the clothes and they make me look good, I am still the same looking good me if I take them off again.

I don't use the internet for specific shopping but I do use it to absorb the feel of what is out there......

I purge my clothing continually and I learn from that what whole categories I probably want to eliminate considering....... I like them but I'm not liking owning them. Also I keep categories of items that I genuinely have enough of and don't want any others unless they are very special. I guess this is all my way of wanting to add only special items to my closet, at this point."

Vildy points out the worth of keeping in touch with what you have, how it's working out for you, maintaining good relationships with sales staff, and focusing on what is special and best on your particular self.

Ms. M of Department of Color:

"I used to feel bad if I didn't find anything to buy while out shopping. I thought of it as a "failed" breakthrough came when I changed my mindset and started thinking of these non-spending trips as opportunities to save my money for when something better came along. And something better ALWAYS comes along. Like you said, you have to trust that it will happen."

Well put - don't fret all the 'good enough' stuff in your path. Keep your eye on the prize!

Adrienne of Wear The Hat sounds like the home economics teacher we all wish we had:

"When my teenage daughters wanted new "wardrobes" usually I would do the following with them 2x a year. We would go through their clothes in every draw and eliminate what wasn't working. The factors to consider were:size (too big too little), style: (was it still in and therefore they would wear it)and identify the clothing orphans. After further sorting we would come up with a list of needs: tops, bottoms, outer wear, underwear etc. Shoes and purses were a separate budget. We would come up with the total number of items desired and put it in the equation, total budget divided by number of desired items. That way they knew how much they could spend on each item in order to keep on budget. a result they would pare down the wants to a more reasonable number and keep within their budget. They are now in their 20's and still sort of do this inventory method. I kind of do this too so I identify what my real fashion priorities are...."

Brilliant! Take in those six sentences and you can chuck my two voluminous posts. And how lucky of Adrienne's daughters to get trained up in this stuff at an early age :)

Terri of RAGS against the MACHINE also commented, which reminded me of her Window Shopping Project. As she describes it:

"In September, I realized that I had not entered a retail store of any type in many months.  I realized that I did not even know HOW to shop in most retail stores.  This year, I have decided I want to spend the next twelve months window shopping (or window licking, as C. at Aesthetic Alterations puts it).  The twist I want to put on this endeavor is to begin with the dollar stores and gradually work my way up the cost ladder, ending (fingers crossed) in a designer store, perhaps even in an appointment to try on the latest thing.  During this time, I want to keep my (clothing) budget the same as this past year ($1200), spending no more.  This means that if I want a Hermes scarf, I'll need to learn to delay gratification until late in the year."

heehee, or buy your scarves on e-bay!  Read her Window Shopping Project posts here.

Aesthetic Alteratrations posted an excellent article on shopping in higher-end boutiques a few days ago. (Terri needs to read this one right now if she hasn't already - the end of the year will be here faster than you think!)  By chance of geography, i've had the opportunity to poke my head into any number of very swank establishments over the decades. San Francisco is the home of many posh shops, and there are quite a few in downtown Walnut Creek as well. Her advice - to be courteous and frank with the staff, present a well-groomed appearance, and to be prepared - i've found to be spot on.

I do have a minor quibble about staff. Many are paid on comission (this means they make money when you buy, either a flat rate or a % of the purchase price), and this quite naturally effects their behaviour towards customers. Additionally, the goods they sell are small and expensive (ie., staff are on the lookout for 'boosters' and people casing the joint). In many locations, staff won't want to spend time with you unless they've decided you're a "buyer".  This is by no means universally the case.

But if you do find yourself in this position, Aesthetic Alteration's advice to do your research will serve you very well. If you have a good knowledge base about the product line, the various items in which you're interested, colors and variations available, you will be able to glean a great deal of the information you need without the assistance of a sales person. Showing that you have indeed researched their wares in depth can also turn around a neglectful sales person. Nothing shows real interest in quite the same way.

Finally,The Vivienne Files is an invaluable resource for anyone interested in wardrobe remixing and getting the most flexibility from their clothing. The posts in which she creates a wardrobe and then shows a number of outfits pulled from that wardrobe are especially helpful in visualizing how this works. In these three posts from last January Vivienne tackles the problem of packing for uncertain weather. She shows 21 outfits for each wardrobe (of around 15-20 pieces each, not counting shoes and accessories), labelling each outfit as appropriate for warmer, cooler, or middlin' weather. Remixing sounds so nice in theory, but can be a real poser when you look at your closet! Watching it 'really happen', for specific pieces and specific occasions, truly elucidates the process.

I got this knockout dress from Krasa in Berkeley. Nothing beats a dress in the heat - a nice necklace or earrings, snazzy shoes, happenin' hair, and you're done.  So easy, and feeling put together is a nice balm to heat induced frazzle. I bought this dress in the middle of winter and i am very happy i did - it looks like we may be in for a scorcher of a summer this year!


  1. What a fab dress. The colors look great on you.

  2. Steph--It is good to review all these various approaches. Yes, I have seen Catherine's advice on shopping higher end, which is a very daunting proposition for me. Because of the commission factor, I have previously been convinced that it is very necessary to "dress up" to shop in such places. Typically, when I shop I am dressed down, but I'm working on that. This spring colors are a nice surprise on you.

    And thanks for the mention.

  3. Thank you Debbi! i was so happy to snag it :)

    Hi Terri! that WSP has been so interesting so far, i'm excited we get a whole year to go :) !!! it's hard about sales assistants.....i can dress up nicely, but could be dropped by an sa because i don't have the expensive hair coloring or manicure, or she scopes out my jewelry and decides it's not costly enough. not all are like this, but i've found quite a few are.

    i read an article about this years ago (in allure, maybe?). A lady was an sa in a very high end clothing boutique, when a skinny scruffy guy came in and was browsing the wares. The staff was giving him the 'anytime you leave is fine with us' vibe when one staff member came out from the back, looked at the guy, and whispered to her co-workers, "oh my god - that guy is wearing a XXXX bracelet!" and they started kissing his behind.

    I forget the brand of bracelet, but it's very expensive and only one of the staff recognized the bracelet. Turns out the guy was Keith Richards of the rolling stones.. I thought the hilarious part was that the sa recognized his jewelry - not him!

    Much depends on the experience and 'filters' of the sa.

    Take care, steph

  4. You look lovely as always. Those colors are gorgeous!

    As you know I'm on a yearlong quest to introduce more quality items into my wardrobe, and at the same time addressing my tendency to impulsively buy stuff. I found this post so encouraging to these efforts. Thanks!

  5. Thank you, thats very interesting information. I need to share with my friends.

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