Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Importantance of a Shopping List

I had another style revelation. That’s two in one week! All my reading must be sinking in. But it’s not enough to read about it apparently, I marinate it in my head and then the lightbulb eventually goes on and I think I’ve thought of it first.

My ‘problem’ is this (and if that’s my biggest problem in life I’m doing OK). I walk into a clothing store, there are hundreds if not thousands of garments everywhere, and I become overwhelmed. The colours, the styles, the choice of pieces... I don’t know where to start, end up browsing the sale rack, buy something identical to what I already own and go home.

Or buy no clothing and purchase a candle or some hand-cream because it’s easy, I always use them and I can never have too many (they are consumable). So now I have a hand-cream ban until I use up the ten tubes and pots I have.

Yesterday in the city I visited our lovely, old yet modern department store and because they are having their half-yearly sale it seems nearly everything is 50% off. I stared at the sea of racks with their big red sale signs, couldn’t think where to start then turned and walked away.

I couldn’t face going through all those hangers. It would have taken me hours (and I only had about thirty minutes before I wanted to head back to work). And then there is all the trying on. And do I really need anything anyway?

On my way out, after spraying myself with Estee Lauder Pleasures and putting on some organic Rose handcream (one must always make the most of walking through a department store) I understood what I have been told before. I need to know what I am looking for before I go shopping.

It’s no different to grocery shopping. Imaging going into a big, bright, busy supermarket with no clue what you need. You would be overwhelmed by the huge array of goods on offer. With a list, it’s easy.

I remembered I heard this advice from Trinny and Susannah when they toured here last year. Their main rules for shopping are: Make a list of what you want to get before you go out shopping. Look in your wardrobe and make a list. Work out your budget. Work out how much money you have. Think ‘what is it I can never find in my wardrobe that I need’.

All I can really think of now that I would like is a crisp white shirt, very tailored with French cuffs perhaps. One that fits me correctly across the shoulders and doesn’t pull across the bust.

And I also am wondering if white is the best colour for me. Even though I love the look, it can be too harsh for my colouring. Winter white is better for me but who ever heard of a crisp winter white shirt? Then I wondered if perhaps I could do pinstripes instead of plain white: white/cream, white/grey or white/pale blue.

I want to go to a specialist shirt/suit tailoring shop for this, and I am saving the money for it. This is the type of thing you don’t find in an end of season sale.

Once I realised/remembered the shopping list thing, I felt quite relieved. I don’t need to wade through all the clothes in all the stores in all the suburbs. I feel calm, and in control. Exhale.


  1. I think we must have been separated at birth. This happens to me all the time. I even used to do it at the grocery store as you mentioned. It's a disaster every time. What helps me is to go to a smaller boutique that carries fewer items, but the overall feel of that smaller store are things I like. I can't stand going into a large department store looking for black pants and having to cover 10,000 square feet of endless racks and brands of clothes to find them all. This even applies to smaller stores at a mall. It's easier to find what you need at a store like Banana Republic than at Macy's.

    Don't even get me started on sale racks. They are a hodge podge of confusion to me. I have a friend who loves the disorder and her favorite stores are TJ Maxx and Marshall's and she can't understand why I don't like going there with her. It's not the merchandise (although some of it is questionable), it's the complete disarray of the store, grocery style carts people use to pile their uber cheap clothing in and general disregard for cleanliness by employees minding the store and shoppers alike. People just let things fall to the ground and never pick them up. It's gross.

    I went off on a tangent there, but I guess what helps me the most is focusing in on a store like Talbots or J. Crew that has a specific look I'm going for, therefore I won't have to weed through racks of things that will never appeal to me.

  2. hi fiona,

    i have the answer to the perfect white shirt. brooks brothers. i believe i had searched the ends of the earth before i found it.


  3. You have just described every shopping trip I've ever been on. I can not understand when people talk about how they love to shop? There is just too much and I can't concentrate. I do better when shopping for a special event, but I believe Thoreau said to distrust any enterprise that requires new clothes. Not sure if I would completely agree with him :)

    Talbots and Ann Taylor seem to be the easiest places for me to shop. Actually, I received a catalog from Talbots today with a contest inside to win a trip for 4 to Paris!

    Sorry, I've never been able to do those tiny links.

  4. I know exactly how it feels to be bombarded with too many choices.. stress.
    I think that's very good advice going with a list...just to keep focused and Trinny and Susannah are experts in their field.
    As to the white shirt I have 3...Talbots Petite white 3/4 sleeves very crisp and tailored, no pulling over the bosom and buttons placed to avoid glimpses of skin (expensive but worth it)...also Ralph Lauren, and Eddie Brooks Bros. shops where I live but when I go south to the US I'll go!

    Janet and I both love white shirts and tees...

    If you find white a wee bit harsh add a few strings of pearls at your neck and they'll impart that creamy softness that you are looking for Fiona.

  5. Hotfoot it to Working Style in Parnell - they have made to measure and off-the-rack, with a tailored fit. And they DO have sales!

    Sales are good if you know of a particular item when it was full price, and had taken note of the colour and size you wanted. If you liked it, but didn't need it at the time or not enough to justify buying at full price, you can then be quick off the mark to see if they still have it at sale time. I did that with a pair of boots recently that I know I will just wear and wear (and which I am).

  6. When we first moved back to the States I literally had a mini panic attack in a grocery store. It was too overwhelming, too many choices and I freaked out. My husband was in the car with our dog (I was afraid to leave her alone at my grandmama's home), and I was there, alone with too many choices, too many sales signs. I had a list but was suddenly supposed to choose pasta from 50 kinds. It still haunts me, hence why I've come to love farmer's markets and small stores.

    Clothing stores are the same way. Where I used to see possibilities in large stores with huge sale signs I now freak out and choose to leave. I'd rather go into a smaller store, look around for what I need and high tail it out. And I used to be a shopaholic!

  7. It's so easy to get overwhelmed in stores. Years ago I had someone help me narrow down my color palette (and I recently had this done again), so that when I walk in a store, I can almost immediately determine if there's anything in it for me. I've been known to walk in a store, take a quick survey, and walk right out. I also know which stores tend to have styles I like - such as Ann Taylor - and don't bother going into stores whose style doesn't suit me - such as Chicos. I'm still have along way to go in perfecting my shopping technique but these two methods have helped me save countless hours of searching. Now I need to get better about having a list.

    I like the idea of a pinstripe shirt, which is just as classic as a white one. Good luck with the hunt.

  8. Stephanie, great idea about limiting stores. There are boutiques I have noticed but never been into. I think that will be one of my next 'jobs'. Go into those shops and yay or nay them. And keep notes of ones I like the overall feel of for future reference.

    I too cannot stand messy, bargain stores where the customers are like cattle. For this reason I avoid busy public 'home expos' and craft shows. Too many people is not fun. Except when I get to visit NYC on holiday. Then too many people is OK.

    Janet, I have had a look at the Brooks Brothers website and will have to decide if I want to chance a mail-order to try them out. And whether they will deliver to New Zealand is a whole other matter.

    Morisot, I don't like shopping either. I don't find it relaxing at all. Maybe it's decluttering and paring down, all I see is future clutter!

    I will have to content myself with browsing at Ann Taylor and Talbots since we don't have these shops. I'm trying to work out how to balance looking youthful, not trying to be too young and not being frumpy.

    Hostess, thank you for your pearls tip, it's wonderful. I have done that once or twice but never thought about it softening the white. Yay! If I get a white shirt it will definitely always be worn with pearls.

    Catherine, Working Style was my first thought. Perhaps I'll do a research visit first, sign up for their mailing list, hope that a 50% off sale comes up soon...

    Kalee, and our supermarkets and clothing stores aren't a patch on ones in the US, size-wise. You'll be wondering what I'm complaining about. Do you think former shopaholics do a complete 180 and end up disliking shopping? I know I used to love and do it a lot more than I do now.

    Cherie, I had a colour consultation a long time ago too. I still have the wallet with colour swatches and love pulling it out for a colour browse from time to time. I had a customer recently admit she carried hers around in her bag. I made her show me and we had such a great time choosing shoes to go with her colours.

  9. Are you sure that you are not my twin?
    I bet our shopping lists would match!!

  10. PVE, thanks for visiting. Would love to read your shopping list!

  11. Wow. It's so encouraging to read that I am not the only woman who gets totally overwhelmed in stores. I feel exactly as you and the other posters have described. Another thing I detest about shopping is the "trying on" in the small, oddly colored, goulish lighting changing rooms. I feel like my every flaw is just magnified. Yes, I know I have cellulite but it seems to multiply and take on a whole new life form in those little rooms. IF I do purchase at a store, I usually bring it home to try--this drives my husband crazy. Which is why I online shop more than not. I can look for specific items more easiley. Everything is shown on a model (granted, it will always look better on her than me), from different angles and in different colors. There are usually reviews from previous buyers. This has really saved me so much time and frustration.

    Another web site a friend recently told me about is I have not bought anything from them yet but I will be soon (after my closet gets weeded out--I am doing Project M-31 in November). For a small fee they will customize any of their clothing for you--you provide your measurements. Their prices are very fair and most reviews sound favorable.

    Happy shopping!


Merci for your comment. Wishing you a chic day!

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