1. Buy first, try later
Let’s be real: some of brick-and-mortar stores have the worst changing rooms. The spotlights are heat-inducing and super unflattering on your skin; the curtains barely close all the way, and the rooms are marginally small.
This is all done by design to ensure you don’t get too comfortable in the changing rooms so you’d rush out a purchase. In fact, some stores even position their mirrors in such a way that it creates a slimming effect, leading you to believe that some items look great on until you bring them home and realise how frumpy you look in the same outfit.
Well, here’s a tip: if a store has a generous return policy, skip the queues and make a purchase first. If you try on the items at the comfort of your own homes, you’re less likely to make an impulse purchase.
As a helpful guide, here are some of the high street shops with a generous refund policy: ZARA, Mango, Bershka, Massimo Dutti, Pull & Bear, H&M, COS, Pomelo Fashion, Bimba Y Lola.
2. Check if it matches your existing wardrobe
This is another reason why I advocate trying your clothes at home—you can see if it goes with the rest of your clothes.
When I’m in the store, I’m always distracted by how well the items I’m trying on match other pieces available in the store. This then persuades me to buy an entirely new outfit because I feel the need to match the top I’m buying with the pants I saw on the mannequin.
I then end up with one outfit combination that only match each other and nothing else in my wardrobe.
3. Look for gaps in your wardrobe
A lot of us look at shopping as a recreational activity as opposed to a task. And while shopping should be fun, sometimes we lose sight of buying what we need with impulse purchases of what we want.
Before you hit the shops, take stock of what you have and list down what’s missing. Try to keep two lists: one for the must-haves aka the boring things that you actually need (e.g. workout gear, replacement jeans for the ones you just tore, etc.) and the fantasy list, which is filled with the seasonal pieces that you don’t mind trying out. This will help to keep you on track.
4. Keep an inspiration board
Pinterest and Instagram are your friends. Make use of these apps to save pictures that inspire you. After a while, you’ll tend to notice similarities and patterns on the types of things you save—this will help you to hone in on your style and help you to look out for things that you really love.
Another key way to use Instagram as a tool is to follow people whose body type and style are similar to yours. That way you can imagine how certain trends might look on you without taking the risk of making a purchase.
5. A wishlist is more important than you think
If you’re shopping online, make full use of your wish list and shopping carts.
If you have a laundry list of items you want but can’t afford everything, here’s a great way to check on the quantity: keep increasing the quantity of the item you want until it reaches its maximum.
That way you can see if it’s really low in stock and make the choice to purchase that item first. You can wait for the rest to go on sale.
Digital-only stores also tend to have regular discounts that physical stores don’t (e.g. 9.9 sales, Singles Day sales and Black Friday sales) so sign up for their mailing lists to ensure that you’re looped in on the latest discounts.
Most sites would also send you a reminder if your items go low on stock or if there’s a price drop.
6. Make your tailor your BFF
Lastly, a good tailor is everything. Some high street pieces get mistaken for designer items all the time just because of how well they fit me. Our bodies are not in the same standard six sizes offered at most stores, so make sure you visit a tailor to get your items tailored to your body and height.