Thursday, September 5, 2013

GUIDE | General Shopping Guide

Hi everyone! Here's a guide that I've put together detailing how I personally prep for shopping to maximize efficiency :)

Real (Physical) Shopping

Changing Room 101 aka Pre-Shopping Prep Uniform. I always run into the problem where I struggle with squeezing in and out of my skinny jeans and skillfully maneuvering 'round the teeny dressing room without falling over while balancing a million hopeful additions to my closet.

-Easy-on, easy off. Zip-up jackets or light cardigans, loose tops without buttons, and comfy/loose pants/jeans that aren't too tight (leggings are good, skinny jeans are the worst...). Elastic-banded shorts are even better (weather permitting), because you can try on dresses and see how they will look without taking off your bottoms. And last but not least, comfy/loose dresses!

-Comfy shoes. Skip the laces and the socks-lost-in-my-jeans problem. Opt for comfy flip flops or slip-on a pair of flats. Plus, your feet are gonna hurt after a few hours of shopping.

-Don't bring a heavy purse. If you're like me, your purse is a mess of old receipts along with everything but the kitchen sink. Bring a light(er)/small purse (crossbodies are the best) that is easy to hang on the hooks to maximize space. Not all changing rooms have a seat/bench, so save yourself from some shoulder pain and avoiding kicking your purse around. If you brought along a friend, ask them to hold it for you.

-Minimize jewelry. While I'm all for looking fab while shopping, I'd rather not get myself entangled within a necklace or dangly earrings while changing. Rings can also be easily lost.

-Wear/bring a white or black tank or spaghetti strap top. See-through stuff or tops with a low neckline might require something underneath, so bringing/wearing one may help you visualize your outfit better.

-Wear a strapless or convertible bra. It's hard to envision how an strapless outfit might look with everything sticking out.

-Bring your cellphone with you. Most changing rooms don't allow people to loiter outside your door so if you need a second opinion, snap a pic of what you're wearing and send it to someone to see what they think.

Shopping Time!

Map out your route. Before heading out, consider where you're going.
-Only go to the shops you know of that carry your item. Try to avoid impulse buys (see below).

-If you're going to multiple locations that require driving, consider each store's hours (they always seem to change on the weekends). There's nothing worse than wasting gas only to find that it's closed.

Bring a friend. Not only are they good for holding your important stuff while you're changing, but friends are also great for giving their opinion on the style and price of a product. They're also useful for capitalizing on "buy-one-get-one" deals.

Don't be afraid to go into the more boutique-y stores. I love stores that I've never heard of before; that's where you'll sometimes find the best deals and most unique gems, especially at Asian fashion stores. I also love visiting discount stores (see my post on my favorite places to shop here)!

Set a time limit. Don't spend too long in one store; you'll be missing out on all the other sales! Plus, your friend might get bored.

Make a budget and stick to it. Set a total amount that you want to spend and try to buy as many items as you can (that you like, of course) that can fall within that budget. If you're spending $30 on jeans and $20 on a top, look around to see if you can finding something similar for less in order to maximize your amount of items. (see my budget guide here) Plus, bragging rights when you can tell your friends "I got 1258734 items for under $50!")

What to do about impulse buys and/or really cheap stuff on sale!

-Make a budgeted list and don't deviate from it. Many times we end up buying a lot of things we don't need (guilty!).

-If you are looking for something specific, only go to the shops that you know will fall within your budget.

-I actually prefer to only shop in the sale section... I hardly ever shop in the "regular" section to avoid going over budget (see my budget guide here).

-Just because something is cheap doesn't mean you should buy it. Consider if you have something similar, how many times you can actually wear it, if you'll still like it in a year, and if it'll last.

-Make sure you really like it. I like to walk around and spend some quality time with the item to see if I actually like the product for what it is or if I just like it for the price.

I like this [product] but...
-I don't usually don't wear this. If you find something you like, try it on! What might not look good on the rack might look good on you :)

-They don't carry it in my size. Ask a sales associate to check the back. If all else fails, ask them to check if other stores carry it in your size. If this fails, take a picture of your desired item of clothing and try to find something like it in another store (or DIY it if you can!). Another (more costly) option is to buy a size up and get it tailored/altered.

-I'm not sure how to wear it. Try to think of at least 3 outfits you can pair it with and ask yourself if you would wear it 2 years from now. If you have a smartphone, try to Google up something similar to see how others have worn it. Don't be afraid to try new colors/patterns!

-It's really expensive. What I like to do when I run into this problem is carry the item around while shopping for other things in the store. At the end of the trip, I ask myself if I still like the item enough to pay that much for it. Also, ask yourself how often you would/can wear it and if it's a long-term item. Make sure the quality is durable enough for multiple wears so you can get the most out of your money.

Bring coupons. Coupons = <3 Try to search up some coupons before you leave. It's pretty hard to predict where you're going to go, but luckily many places accept coupons that you may find on your smartphone when you show it to them in store.

Bag in a bag. Toting multiple bags can be tiresome and your risk for misplacing something increases. Place smaller bags inside bigger ones so you only have to carry one or two bags. Bringing a good-sized reusable tote is a great option too; less plastic/paper wasted!

Water. Shopping can be exciting and exhausting. Keep yourself hydrated and you can avoid buying overpriced drinks at the mall.

Online (Virtual) Shopping

Refined search options.
-To save time, search by size. It's always disappointing when you find something you like but that's not in your size.

-Refine from "low to high". Stop when the prices start going over your budget. (Again, refer to my budget guide here)

Shop the daily deals and clearance/sale sections. Some sites have daily deals where selected items go on sale for a limited time. Most of the items in the sale section have limited sizes and can go for much cheaper than in store. 

-Coupons can save you so much time + money, especially the ones for free shipping. Sometimes free shipping coupon codes require you to spend a certain amount, so don't get sucked into that if doing so will put you over your budget. 

-Sign up for the site's newsletters. Don't miss out on exclusive deals/coupons that you can only get through e-mail.
-Long weekends/holidays sometimes cause websites to e-mail out special coupon codes!

Read the return policy. There's no way to try before you buy so be sure to read the site's return policy. Some sites allow you to return the product to the store; others only allow returns at your own expense of shipping. Watch for "final sale" items.

Let me know if any of these tips were helpful for you! :)


  1. I tend to hate shopping, due to the fact that I am really tall and clothes don't usually fit me. XD But these are good tips--especially the time limit and budget ones. =P

    I do think though, that your post would be improved with a photograph or two. =) Did you know there's a section on Flikr called "creative commons," which provides you with photographs to use on your blog for free, if you just provide a link back to the photographer's site? It's pretty cool, and helps a lot if you don't have time to snap your own photos. =)

    1. Hi Kait!

      I totally agree with you about the one wants to read a block of text but I definitely ran into the problem you mentioned where I didn't want to just use a picture from Google without proper credit. That's an absolutely awesome idea and I'll definitely check it out! :)


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