Many women go clothes shopping without truly considering what they need, what looks good on them and how they will wear a new garment.

As a result their closets get stuffed with purchases they don’t wear and yet they constantly feel like they have nothing to wear.

This kind of wardrobe building strategy is known as shopping mistakes. You know the ones, where you purchase something on impulse because it was a good deal. Or you needed a black blouse and didn’t allow yourself enough time and so you bought one in a hurry and you’ve never been happy with the fit or fabric so you never wear it. Or you’ve gained weight and run to the mall in desperation and buy a bunch of stuff because it fits your body but not compatible your current wardrobe or personal style.

Most of these mistakes can be prevented saving you time, money and closet space. Here are the most common mistakes women make when they go clothes shopping and what you can do to avoid them.

1. Not shopping with a list

Shopping with a list keeps you focused. This way you spend time searching for needed items and not go off track looking at garments or accessories that are impulse or fantasy buys. Make a list with pieces that you are certain there is need. To come up with a list you first need to reflect on your lifestyle and determine what your wardrobe should be comprised of and what your style looks like. Next do wardrobe edit to weed out things that don’t work and don’t flatter you. The edit should reveal what you are in need of so you can then create a list of what you need. Impulse buys on the other hand are fun and exciting but too often they end up being rarely or never worn, because they were not well thought out purchases. Keep your shopping or “I need” list on your phone for easy access.

2. Not knowing your style

If you don’t know your style, chances are you have not created a plan to build a wardrobe that represents who you are, and what you want in your work life or social life. By defining how you want to present yourself to the world, you will establish a foundation of purpose and intention with how you want to look and feel. Next you can create a style inspiration board or style file as a place to keep artwork, photos and notes of designers, brands, colors, silhouettes, fabrics that suit your style. Take it one step further a write your own style mission statement. Once you know your style you can reference your inspiration board when you are thinking of adding to your wardrobe.

3. Not knowing your colors and base neutrals

Have a clear understanding of your colors, color palette and base neutral colors. This is something else that can be extracted from your style inspiration board. Most people have a couple of color palettes for each season. Your hair color, eye color and skin tone can give you big clues as to what colors will be most complimentary to you. Add a photo or artwork to your inspiration board or style file confirming your color palettes.

Neutral colors need to be identified too. Because these colors, usually in timeless, basic fabrics and silhouettes are solid wardrobe extenders.

Add photos of your style inspiration board to you cell phone for easy reference when you are out shopping.

4. Not feeling good about your hair and makeup

Take the time to do your hair and put on a little makeup before you go out shopping. If you don’t have time to wash your hair and do blow out, put a few waves in it or tie it in a flattering bun or pony tail. It will do wonders for your self esteem and the clothes you try on. Don’t go with full makeup because you’ll want to avoid getting any makeup on the clothes you are trying on. Do put on a little blush, pencil in your eyebrows and add a swipe of lipstick that makes you feel fabulous.

5. Not being able to identify fit or styling solutions as a way to make an item go from looking eh, to looking WOW

When you try something on, make sure you secure it completely before you judge whether that garment works for you. This means buttoning, zipping, belting, wrapping, tying, etc. This will help you check the fit to determine is it too large, too small or just right. A well fitting garment should skim your body.

Style the item the way you would wear it. Know which styling tricks flatter you and ask the sales associate for items that will help you see the potential of a garment. Here’s some examples:

  • Trying on a blazer: put a shirt or underpinning underneath the blazer. Pop the collar out, do a half tuck, and try on some jewelry to bring the blazer to life.
  • Trying on a party dress: try on the dress with the appropriate foundations, shoes, correct handbag or clutch, jewelry etc. Again bring it to life with the right accessories.
  • Trying on a skirt: try a blouse, top or sweater that is a flattering silhouette and still balances the skirt. A rule of thumb is that if the skirt is full and voluminous, then your top or sweater should be fitted. In contrast, if your skirt is a fitted pencil skirt, pair that back to a fuller blouse. Add some accessories to create a complete picture of the look.

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6. Not wearing clothing and shoes that are easy to get on and off

Save time and energy by wearing clothes and shoes that are easy to take off and put back on. Do not wear things that have lots of snaps, buttons, lace up, or reset details, etc.

7. Not shopping with enough time

As you plan your shopping outing, give yourself plenty of time, to accomplish your task. Allow time to get to the mall, park, browse, try things on, checkout, stop for lunch or coffee and or go back to a store you liked. Do not try to shop fast. As a result, this will help you avoid wardrobe mistakes and a harried and stressful shopping experience.

8. Not bringing the item you are trying to match or buy a companion piece with you to the store

It’s amazing how many people want to “match” something, and yet they don’t bring that item with them when they shop. Bring the thing with you when you shop because it the best way to see what might work  with and save you the trip to come back and return it if it doesn’t work out. A photo is not the next best thing to the actual item being there. Bring your item or garment with you to make the best match and save time.

9. Simply going to the store because they are having a big sale, like the day after Thanksgiving

This shopping mistake can very difficult to navigate. It’s very easy to get caught up in the excitement of a limited time sale or fresh seasonal markdowns.  Always shop with a purpose, not to just go and see what’s on sale. If you go, make a list and a budget.

10. Buying items and not being clear on the return policy.

Make sure you are clear on the return policy before you complete your purchase. If you are unclear, simply ask. Smaller boutiques often have a credit or exchange only policy on returns. Most stores also have a limited window of time to return so make sure you are clear in case you want to return something.

By being more aware of these shopping mistakes you can work on being more thoughtful and intentional with your purchases. As a result you can build a wardrobe that suits your lifestyle, flatters your figure and reflects your unique style. Every item in your wardrobe should make you look and feel great.

Do you identify with any of these shopping mistakes? Let me know in the comments below.

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