It’s true what they say: women always be shopping. I can be home sick, in bed late at night, with 7,000 things to do, and I will still have one browser window open to eBay or ASOS. As such, I know a thing or two about shopping and how to do it. And so does the rest of The Frisky staff. That’s why we’ve culled together this list of 28 tips that will help you get the best stuff at the best prices — and not just cool stuff, but items you’ll actually wear. So take a look at our tips, and share your own in the comments.
1. Try on everything that catches your eye–stuff looks SO different on your body than it does on the hanger, and we often get caught up in a really narrow definition of what looks good on us.
2. Don’t speed-shop, especially if you’re searching for something really specific. Give yourself enough time to browse, try stuff on, and not get all stressed out.
3. Don’t start body-hating when stuff doesn’t fit right. Every body is unique, and a mass-produced piece of fabric labeled with an arbitrary size doesn’t mean anything about your body. Repeat after me: the clothes are wrong for your body; your body is not wrong for the clothes.
4. If you randomly find a perfect special occasion dress, you should just buy it, even if you have no special occasions on your calendar. Because shopping for a great dress like a week before your friend’s wedding or your company party is not fun and it’s pretty rare that you’re gonna find something awesome on a short timeline.
5. Take a trusted friend with you who tells you when something looks shitty on you.
6. That being said, shop alone sometimes. Shopping with friends is fun and can be helpful, but shopping alone means the only opinion that matters is yours.
7. When I’m not in the mood to brave harsh lighting and pushy salespeople, I’ll just buy a couple different sizes of things and try them on at home. It’s not the most efficient way to shop, but it gives me more time to think about stuff and evaluate it in my own mirror, and with other pieces I already own.
8. Consider what you have in your closet that you can wear with the item before you buy it. If it only goes with one or two other things, is it really worth getting?
9. Likewise, does it ONLY work during one or two seasons? The best items in our closets are the ones that we can wear in different ways depending on the season. For example, a dress that works bare-legged with wedges in spring/summer, or with a turtleneck underneath and boots in fall/winter.
10. If you find a dress with a fit you like, check the designer online, and see if the dress is made in other colorways or patterns. I just bought two dresses in different colors from Free People that I plan on wearing all summer long!
11. Before you buy, ask yourself: Do I like this item more than what I walked in the store wearing. If not, just put it down.
12. Consider: Am I buying this for the person I am now, or for some past version of myself? Is this my style now, or a past style I recognize and like, but don’t actually want to wear anymore?
13. Don’t pay attention to the number on the tag — pay attention to the way things fit. There’s very little consistency among brands with regards to sizing anyway.
14. Wear slip on shoes/flats, for easy access.
15. Go shopping on a good hair day and a day when you are NOT period-y and bloated, so you’re less likely to get sidetracked by the “ugh, I look awful” thing when you’re staring at yourself in a mirror.
16. Calculate the price/wear ratio — i.e. Jessica wears her $158 jeans from Anthropologie twice a week, so they’re totally worth it.
17. If you can afford it, purchase a whole outfit at once so you don’t end up with shirts or pants that don’t quite match anything else.
18. Carry hand sanitizer in your purse. Dressing rooms can be kinda gross.
19. If you really like a basic — for example, Gap T-shirts — buy two or three at once.
20. Oh! And if you purchase something cheaply made, like shoes from Payless, envision what they’d look like when they’re more beaten up. That’s how they’re going to look very, very soon.
21. Also: don’t wear heavy foundation, so you don’t risk smearing makeup on stuff you try on.
22. Pick key pieces that you know you need and decide beforehand what kinds of items you’re looking for.
23. Don’t go shopping when you’re emotional and more prone to make impulse purchases.
24. Avoid the dressing room altogether if it’s one of those badly lit ones that makes you look like your entire body is dimpled (Lululemon’s dressing rooms are the biggest offenders).
25. Make sure you look in a three-way mirror if you can.
26. If a garment makes you want to do a little dance in the dressing room, buy it. If not, rethink it. (Except basics, which don’t necessarily need to be dance-worthy.)
27. If you’re buying online, make sure to check coupon sites like RetailMeNot, to see if there are any discount codes that might apply to your purchase.
28. Or, try a site like ShopItToMe, which will tell you when your preferred brands are holding sales.