Before I wrote QStyle with Janna, I looked at shopping in a completely different way than I do today. To be honest, it wasn’t much fun. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I actually like to shop.
But back then I’d often buy something similar to what the mannequin was wearing, or something trendy, or something I’d see in a magazine. I was excited to discover the newest, most fashionable thing…or so I thought. But after writing QStyle, I began to realize that the “newest” thing wasn’t necessarily meant for me. I was paying much more attention to external cues than internal ones.
On a recent shopping trip, I watched as a woman groped sullenly through the racks. One blouse at a time. One skirt at a time. The look on her face–perplexing. Definitely not joyous.
I used to do that. But that was before I learned which colors looked best on me, which styles were most flattering, and which prints were a ‘yes’ and which were a definite ‘no.’
If you know these three things, you can eliminate about 95% of the stuff you see on the rack right from the get-go. This principle is also helpful when you’re shopping online or from a catalog.
For example, I do look good in light-bright colors and patterns with light backgrounds. The best fabrics for me are light, not heavy. I look better in ivory than I do white, and I look better in navy than I do in black. I don’t look good in saturated, dark colors, or prints with high contrast. I don’t really have the figure for sheath dresses, and a-line skirts and v-necks are usually most flattering on me.
I liken the shopping process to the interviewing process, where you are the boss. You have certain criteria, and if the interviewee doesn’t meet that criteria, that potential candidate can be eliminated right away. Then there are only a few hopefuls left. From those, you pick the one that is the best fit.
Sheath dress–you’re out. Busy print–you’re out. Wrong shade of red– you’re out. (I feel like Heidi Klum on “Project Runway.”)
Let’s just say I’m shopping at Marshall’s, where clothing is hung by category and size. Here’s what I do when I want to buy a dress:
1. Go to my size (and sizes can vary, plus or minus)
2. Eliminate all colors that are not flattering
3. Eliminate all prints that are not flattering
4. Eliminate all styles that are not flattering (for my body type)
5. Eliminate anything that doesn’t fit with my lifestyle and/or the event I’m shopping for.
What’s left? Probably only a handful of items. And those few items should be precisely the items that will look most flattering on you. Go try them on. Don’t waste time on the rejects.
Once you discard the negatives, only the positives remain, and you get to choose. Don’t like any? Move on to the next rack or store.
Before you know it, you’ll find that you not only have a closet full of garments that go with you, but they also go with each other. Remember the closet orientation tour (p. 52).
How about it? If you’ve read Quintessential Style, by now you have probably figured out your most flattering colors, prints, fabrics, and styles. Armed with this simple knowledge, shopping becomes a snap.
Remember, you are in control of your shopping experience, no one else. The better you know yourself, the less shopping mistakes you’ll make, the more time (and money) you’ll save, and the more confident you’ll feel knowing you made the best possible choice for you.
I love this slogan from J.C. Penney: “When it fits, you feel it.”
Wishing you joy on all your shopping journeys.
I’m doing a better job of shopping. I also look better in lighter colors and hate looking for clothes in Fall/Winter. Everything is dark colors, which are not flattering for me. I just received the Talbots catalog which had some light colors. I’ll have to look at it closer in a few weeks when I’m ready for some new cool weather clothes.