1. Go through your closet and make a list of things you “need”
This will keep your shopping on track. Yes, about 90% of the time when I go shopping with friend, it is NOT to pick up one, specific staple my closet is missing. Shopping is my hobby. I love retain therapy (except I’m far too poor to actually buy anything).
Still, I’ve noticed I buy fewer “useless” things when I have a list of things I want to buy in the near future. Right now, for instance, I am looking for a black circle skirt, a black leather skirt, yoga pants, a tan sweater, and some sort of knit cap.
Does that mean I don’t buy something if it isn’t on my list? Of course not. But it helps to have some sort of specification.
Also, when you go through your closet, you might notice a trend of things you buy but never seem to wear (In my fiancé’s case, Captain America shirts and muscle compression workout shirts).
2. Dress overly-nice for 3-7 days before you go shopping
Of course this doesn’t work for spur-of-the-moment shopping trips, but if you’re planning a trip with the girls after a stressful week of midterms, try to dress up nicely the week before.
This is two-fold. First of all, it helps you get in touch with your actual tastes. What you think you want to wear and what you actually want to wear often end up being completely different things (more on this later). If you buy maxi dresses because you love them, but then realize you never actually wear them (after trying to dress nicely the week before), you know you need to stop buying maxi dresses.
Second of all, it helps fill in the holes of what you are missing in your closet. Perhaps you’ve always wanted black skinny jeans, but every time you are out, you forget about those black skinny jeans. If the frustrations are fresh in your mind (say, perhaps, you needed the black skinny jeans to wear with that adorable babydoll top in your closet), you are more likely to buy a pair and be satisfied with your overall shopping experience.
2. Wear light makeup and a chic outfit
Everyone suffers from self-esteem issues. Seriously, I’m not joking. I’ve talked to some of the loveliest and charismatic women… and all it takes is a couple bottles of beer before their insecurities start tumbling out.
I’m not tall enough. My boobs are too small. My stomach sticks out. My nose is too large. My hair is frizzy and awful. [a list of insecurities my fiance has been helping me get over]
Unless you are one of those people who is magically 100% ok with the way you look (kudos to you), then you have insecurities. And those insecurities can turn a fun afternoon out with the girls sour. Wear an outfit YOU love, with some simple makeup and a cute hairstyle. It won’t fix all our insecurities (wouldn’t that be nice), but I’ve noticed it certainly helps.
It’s hard to be mad at your body when you look so darn cute in that dress.
Also, the lighting in 95% of the dressing rooms in America and Japan is awful. It’s like it’s designed to make you look flat and awkward.
3. Know your size
Nothing is worse than hitting up the dressing room with a nice skirt that you LOVE, only to discover it won’t zip up. Know your size.
Japanese clothes are often under either the “S, M, L” size system or the “one size fits all” system. Know what your size transfers to (especially with shoes and bras).
4. Don’t take it personal when/if something doesn’t fit
In America, I am a size 2 – 4. In Japan, I am a size Large. To make matters worse, a lot of Japanese clothes follows the “free size” idea, where one size fits all.
But one size does not always fit all. And, in those instances, it’s important to remember these clothes were not made to fit curvaceous, tall, busty foreign women. They were made to fit smaller, thinner, and flatter Asian women. Sometimes they fit. Sometimes they don’t.
Don’t be ashamed of your body type. Those clothes were never designed to fit you.
5. One $40 dress you LOVE is worth more than two $15 dresses on sale that you “kind of” like
This is pretty self-explanatory. If you don’t love it, don’t buy it. If you can’t afford it, don’t buy it.
If you love it AND can afford it, don’t feel obligated to buy a crappier, less expensive version. Think long-term. If in the long term, you will wear the more expensive dress a LOT more than the cheaper dress, swing for the more expensive one.
6. Don’t let yourself feel pressured to buy anything
Choose your shopping friends carefully. I have a nasty habit of usually having friends who are a great deal richer than me (possibly because I go to a rich school, went to rich high school(s) and studied abroad at a rich school). This is fine most of the time… except when it comes to shopping.
I’ve felt obligated to buy a dress because it was “only $40” from friends who came to the mall with a “$300 budget – unless I find something I really, REALLY like” which is… most of the time. It’s difficult to explain that to me, $40 is too much for a dress.
A lot of the time I feel judged.
But I love my friends. I do love shopping with them. And if you have friends who live in a different pay scale than you, you can still go shopping with them, just make sure they are clear on your budget. Don’t let yourself feel pressured to buy anything.
7. Don’t buy high heels unless you can walk around the store for ten minutes without any discomfort
If you’re a woman, you probably like high heels. It’s one of those things we have been trained to love since childhood.
[For more, see: Things I don’t Understand about Japan: Why do women wear high heels?]
So when you see a gorgous pair of neon blue and orange high heels, you think “Oh my gosh, this would be PERFECT with that black cocktail dress I have. I can totally wear this to [insert event here].”
So you buy the shoes. And you wear them to the event. And your feet feel like they are about to die, you get sad and angry at the shoes, and you shove them into the back of your closet, never to touch them again.
Can anyone blame you? I mean those shoes DID just give you four blisters. They’re evil.
8. Buy what you actually wear, not what you feel obligated to wear
Last time I was cleaning out my closet, I noticed a high number of bodycon skirts and club dresses. I like my figure. I was never particularly attractive when I was younger – now that I fit more in the “socially acceptable definition of attractive,” I feel this need to buy “socially acceptable clothes for an attractive person.”
So basically to dress like a hooker.
Except that’s not me. And every time I buy one of these bodycon skirts because it’s on sale and I think it would look great on me, it ends up in the back of my closet. Maybe I wear it a couple times… but it would be much smarter to just invest in something I would, you know, actually wear.
Buy what you actually wear, not what you feel obligated to wear.
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