Pollyanna’s Guide to a Fabulous Wardrobe – the Shopping

Lyda here. Ya’ll, this is a long post. You might want to pour yourself some of Anna-Liza’s sweet tea. I’m just saying… Also, it is hard typing with a cat in one’s lap. But worth it.

A while ago, we talked about the Great Closet Purge. As you purged your closet, you made a list of things you need to replace worn items you tossed, or fill in holes in your wardrobe.

I so know that all of ya’ll did this. I believe in you. Really. And if you didn’t, it’s okay. Pollyanna understands that the thought of cleaning out a closet can make a person feel faint and in need a fiber infusion. Breath in the alpaca, breath out the stress…

But I digress…

So assuming you have a list of what clothes you need, it’s time to go shopping. It’s okay; I’ll hold your hand. This is scary territory. Not as scary as this. Horrible. 

If you hate shopping, you aren’t the only one. I do too. And so does the Yarn Harlot. Her post should cheer you up a bit.

Be very careful when clothes shopping. If you aren’t sure, don’t buy it. 

Remember, people are not mannequins. Mannequins are not people. Except in the Twilight Zone. But I digress… 

Think how careful we are about the color and texture of the yarn we knit and the fabric we sew. And clothing is going to be with us all day. Actually touching our bodies. Affecting our mood. Shouting out messages to the world. Scary, kids.

First, try not to shop cranky or tired or hungry. We don’t want our Inner Toddlers throwing tantrums in the stores, do we? The same for any actual kids you have to take with you. And stop when you need a break.

Second, pick the right stores, ones that carry items in your size and to your tastes. Personally, I mostly shop at the Avenue, and occasionally Target and Ross. “Her purse is Target, her shoes are Payless.”  Explore new stores, but if you don’t see anything you like, or if they don’t carry your size, don’t go there again. And I don’t go back if the employees are rude. Life is too short.

I like to shop in this order:

  • Color first
  • Fabric second
  • Style next
  • And finally, Size

Shopping color first saves time and frustration. Why look at clothes in colors I don’t like? I can walk past entire displays and go straight to the colors I like. If they don’t have colors I like, I’m in the wrong store. Or it’s the wrong season. For most stores, spring is all about pastels, and I never wear pastels.

Next, I touch the garment. If it feels weird or scratchy or odd, I move on. If it feels soft and I like the feel of it – what Mom called “the hand” of the fabric – then I pick up the hanger.

Now, the style. Now that I’m holding the item, I can check to ensure an absence of glitterwriting, Hideous Pink-ness  (like this), and designs not for those of us with huge… tracts of land (“it’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye” – or gets hypnotized). Or other weirdness. Like this. Or this. Sorry, Target – they do have some cute stuff too, ya’ll. But you know me. I must explore the weird side.

I also check to see if the fabric is already wrinkled – because I do not iron clothes. I mostly wear knits to work, and t-shirts and jeans at home. I wore those crinkly skirts in college – loved that! Wrinkles on purpose!  I check the label – since I don’t do dry cleaning, I need to know I can wash it. Although some clothes labeled “dry clean only” can actually be washed on gentle cycle and air-dried.

Now I look for size. And I remind myself that the numbers on the tags have nothing to do with my body and no relation to my worth.

Some clothes are cut with less fabric, meaning one may need to go up to the next size. Or even the one higher than that. This is particularly true in less expensive garments. On the other hand, some clothes are cut generously, which may require you to go down a size to get the proper fit. This never happens to me. But I bet it happens to Anna-Liza. And sleeve and leg lengths are different for different manufacturers too.  See? It isn’t you!

Since I shop very seldom, and I’m on the generous size, I have learned a trick which I happily pass on to you:

I take two sizes into the dressing room. One is the size I think should fit, and the other is one size larger. And then – this is vital – I try on the bigger size first.

If it is too big, I chuckle and try on the smaller garment. If it fits – well, I didn’t have the awful experience of trying to squeeze into a too-small garment.

Clothes that are too small make a person look fat. Remember, no one will ever know what size the label says. You can always cut the label out if it bums you out.

And for shoes – they should be comfortable the moment you put them on. And get your feet measured. Foot size changes over time. It’s bad for your feet, your back, and your temper to wear shoes that don’t fit right. No one cares whether you wear a size six or a size nine or a size twelve. Except your podiatrist. And she already has a lovely summer home, so she doesn’t need you to ruin your feet. But I digress again…

Once I have the garment on, I look in the mirror – Is this going to work for me? Does it flatter me? Will it go with anything else I have? I mostly wear black slacks to work and jeans off work; almost any top is going to work with both. There is no economy in buying a top that’s marked down 50% if you then have to buy a skirt, shoes, and accessories to match. If you love the top, okay, but don’t tell yourself that you are saving money.

If the garment doesn’t do it for you – blame the garment, not your body! Many clothes are not created with actual human beings in mind, and few are created with YOUR body and coloring and style in mind.

Laugh at the silly designer, and move on.

When clothes shopping, take along a trusted friend with fabulous taste if at all possible. Ideally, I would import Anna-Liza for this.

Or Younger Brother, who has amazing taste. Any fabulous clothes I had in my college days were totally due to the influence of these two. Or the Irish Beauty, who not only has fabulous taste but is also a great partner in Hideous Garment Mocking (see #8 on that link for a cautionary garment-mocking tale).

Since I can’t afford to fly any of them in for a shopping trip, I imagine conversations with them, and with my mom (who had fantastic taste), and with my Inner Diva. But not out loud…

Your shopping companion will tell you if that shade of green brings out your eyes or just makes you look billious. If you try on something and your friend says, “Perfect!” – you should probably buy it.

However, and this is very important, do not let yourself get talked into anything that you dislike or that is uncomfortable. Itchiness does not wash out. Waistbands do not magically become comfortable. That odd color does not go from making you feel like a stupid lettuce (to quote Terry Pratchett) to making you feel divine.

AND IT SHOWS. When you wear clothes you don’t like, clothes that are uncomfortable, clothes that don’t fit, you look miserable. You lose your sparkle. It’s not worth it. No, not even if it’s marked down from $500 to $5.

When you wear clothes you love, you feel prettier, more confident, more sexy – and it shows! Whether it’s a t-shirt or a designer suit or a purple sequin dress – it should make you feel fabulous, or you should not buy it. Just for the record, I’m not going to be wearing the purple sequin dress anytime soon, but if you love it, wear it! Maybe not to a job interview, but why not for a night on the town?

Trying something on is like flirting. Be Mae West for a bit. Flirt outrageously with anything and everything in the store without taking it seriously. Feel free to merrily discard anything the moment it doesn’t measure up. If it doesn’t click, move on.

Taking something home is serious. Don’t buy something that is kind of okay. We are going for fabulous here.

But if you come to the next day with something horrible, you can always take it back. I have been known to return tops I got on sale for $5, despite sneering salesgirls. Because $5 is still five dollars, ya’ll.

Returning clothing is less embarassing than extricating oneself from other one-night stands…

But that’s a digression for another time…


3 thoughts on “Pollyanna’s Guide to a Fabulous Wardrobe – the Shopping

  1. Pingback: How do we find products we like? | Appozitegeist

  2. lyda Post author

    Thanks! (Having a best friend who tells you that you could rock that sequined dress: Priceless.)


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