Shopping Smart: An Excerpt from Already Pretty

By now, most of you are aware that I released a book in 2012 titled Already Pretty: Learning to Love Your Body by Learning to Dress it Well. What you may not know is that less than 10% of the book was drawn from existing blog content! The book outlines a process that is very much aligned with everything I write here, but has never been described in its entirety on the blog. The book presents a highly customizable regimen to help you define and hone your own personal style.

I wanted to share another excerpt from the text with you. This particular tidbit focuses on being informed and mindful when you shop for items to fill the holes in your current wardrobe. I hope you enjoy it!

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As you prepare to shop for your new wardrobe items, take a moment to consider the pitfalls you may encounter along the way. There are many. And they are treacherous.

1. Buying something that almost fits.

Bottom line: just don’t. Shop for your today-body, dress that body fabulously right now so that you can respect and celebrate yourself just as you are, and avoid clothes that fail to make you look and feel amazing. But since your head can get a bit foggy when those barely-able-to-button jeans are on clearance, here’s your checklist:

Ask yourself: Do I want this because my body is currently in flux? If so, won’t there be something equally awesome once I’ve leveled out or reached my goal?
Ask yourself: Can it be altered easily to fit properly? Figuring in the cost of alterations, is it worth it?
Ask yourself: Are there workarounds? Is it a button-down shirt that won’t button but can be worn over a tank top? If so, make sure there are at least three possible outfits in your closet that can utilize this piece.

2. Buying something you already own.

Hopefully you are now so intimately familiar with the contents of your closet that this is an impossibility. But in the heat of the moment, you may snap up an item with a twin already living in your closet. Here’s your checklist:

Before you shop, take inventory. Make a habit of it. Always.
Ask yourself: How similar is this to my other _______s? (Insert item: dresses, boots, blazers, etc.) If it has three or more features in common with something you already own, leave it on the racks.
Ask yourself: Do I love this because it’s perfectly “me” or because it’s incredibly familiar?

3. Buying something just because it’s on sale.

This is the doozy, am I right? The “would I pay full price for this?” test is great in theory but often fails in practice. So try this instead:

Ask yourself: What will happen if I don’t buy this? Will I remember that I wanted it two weeks from now?
Ask yourself: What about this item thrills me?
Ask yourself: Can I envision at least three outfits that will work with this?

4. Buying something that you can’t return.

Since you are shopping in transition, I must advise against buying anything that cannot be returned or exchanged. You’ve worked hard to hone this shopping list, but you may still make mistakes. However, should you stumble across a perfectly fitting, absolutely ideal item that happens to be marked “final sale,” run through this checklist:

Ask yourself: Is it completely free of flaws? Does it flatter me? Do I love it to pieces?
Have a backup plan: consignment, a good friend or relative who wears your size, eBay.
Ask yourself: If this fails to work for me, will I feel OK about trying to earn some of my money back or passing it along to someone else for free?

Shopping should be fun, of course, but it should also be strategic. Shopping regrets undoubtedly comprise the majority of items you purged or donated as you worked through the steps in this book. Why allow yourself to spend on subpar items that may eventually become regrets? Smart shopping is a skill worth cultivating. And now you’ve cultivated it.

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Keep the ball rolling with a copy of my book – available printed and for Kindle, iPad, and Nook.

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5 Responses to “Shopping Smart: An Excerpt from Already Pretty”

  1. ships

    Yup that’s smart shopping, alright! Thank you for the tips..will keep them in the back of my head next time so my cardiovascular in the shopping center!! 🙂

  2. fashionforgiants

    Even though I know better, I still succumb to the sales rack sometimes. And I have actually purchased non-returnable items a few times and not one of the pieces worked for me. I’ve since learned my lesson, that’s for sure!

  3. Amy Blankenship

    I recently bought something quite similar to what I already own because I love the shoes I already own but they’re half a size too large. Unfortunately, the fabric is different and I halfway regret it. But since I can’t wear the old shoes without thick socks I at least now have something wearable.

    I’ll often spot something that no way would I pay full price for, then buy it on sale a few weeks or months later. A good piece I love will be in my closet for a while, so getting it a bit later makes no difference.

  4. Tovah

    I, unfortunately, am guilty of all the above. The biggest offender: Buying something that doesn’t fit. My sister said that I’m in denial as to my size. lol.

  5. Dust. Wind. Bun.

    I generally try not to bring things home that don’t fit – I have enough saved from before my health got wacky and I put on 30 pounds. But, there was one item I couldn’t pass up that won’t fit until I’m down another 5-10lb off the 5-10lb I dropped when I got a better medication regime. It was a handmade – well, it was professional-quality but no tags of any kind – pantsuit with an asymmetric-front Mandarin collar jacket. I’m short, with short legs and arms, but I’m not small. I almost never find a pair of pants or a jacket that are the right length for me unless I’m buying something that’s meant to fit differently (ankle-crops are my full-length pants, capris make crops on me, and so on). This suit fit like it was custom-made to my measurements, except 10 pounds smaller. I could get it on and fasten everything to judge the fit and look, I just wouldn’t have been comfortable all day in it. And it looked AWESOME. It came home with me – I think I paid $15 or so – and I don’t regret it.

    But I’d definitely say that was a special exception…