9 Clothes Shopping Hacks That Save Time and Money

Let me let you in on a little secret: I am not a fashionista.

In fact, buying clothes used to scare the crap out of me, because I just knew I'd end up with things that I didn't love, didn't work for me, didn't go with anything else I owned, or didn't fit as well at home as they did in the store.

For a few years, I didn't shop much at all. I had three babies, and so I had partial wardrobes in several different sizes, and I changed shape so much that shopping seemed like an exercise in futility. After I had my kids, though, I hit a point where I realized I needed to get my wardrobe together. Actually, I just needed a wardrobe — a set of clothes that I liked, that suited my style and my lifestyle, and that fit a body that ended up a very different shape from where I started. (See also: 8 Essential Pieces for Your Capsule Wardrobe)

Enter the Clothes Rules. I dug around and found some ideas that, when I follow them, are slowly helping me create a wardrobe I love and that works for every occasion. Here they are.

1. Determine Your Body Shape

Whether you're a man or a woman, there are many different shapes your body can take. Since different clothes flatter different shapes, it's important to have an idea of what will work on your body before you shop.

If you look atbody types and you're still not sure where you fit, ask someone you love to help you out. This requires a lot of trust, but sometimes you need an extra set of eyes, particularly if you feel like your body doesn't look the way it used to.

2. Find Pictures of What You Like

Once you know what will work for you, find pictures online of clothes you like that fit those qualifications. You can search through Pinterest, look at items from stores you like, or scroll through fashion blogs.

At this point, you just want to gather photos of everything you like that might work on your body. Sometimes it takes a while, but you should be able to find 3050 items (preferably everything from pants to shirts to jeans to more formal wear).

3. Know Your Style

When you have the pictures of clothes you like that should also look good on you, put them all together. Notice whether there are items that seem to go together, or that look like they would work to make an outfit.

Note that there's no "good" or "bad" here. If all of your clothes would look good together, it will be easier to understand your style. If they're all different, maybe your style is something like "eclectic."

You will also want to make sure your style fits your life, too. If you need business casual clothes for work, make sure to include some pictures of these. You may need to purchase separate pieces for work, if those clothes just don't fit in with the rest of your style.

4. Get Your Measurements

Before you go shopping, make sure you know your measurements. You will want to have numbers for (at least) your chest (bust and under bust, for women), waist, hips, and inseam. When shopping for dress shirts, you may also want to know your neck circumference and arm length. These can be hard to get accurately on your own, so get some help.

Take these numbers with you when you shop. They will help you find the right size. Many pants are sized by waist and inseam, and, more and more, stores will list inseam or sleeve length on the tag.

If you end up shopping online, accurate measurements are essential. Check the size chart for any garment you buy, and make sure it will fit in all the relevant directions.

5. Find the Stores That Work for You

This may take some trial and error, but most people find that certain brands carry clothes that fit both their personal style and their body. Finding your stores can make shopping a lot easier, because you'll learn what sizes you wear there, so you can buy online or without trying clothes on.

One of the best ways to do this is to take a few hours and go to a mall, without an urgent need to buy something. Start going into stores and trying things on, and you will quickly find out which ones are best for you.

6. Wrap Waistbands Around Your Neck

Whether you don't like dressing rooms, can't find an empty one, or just don't have time to try things on, there are a couple of hacks for determining whether a pair of pants will fit. For the first one, make sure the zipper is closed and the button buttoned. Then, wrap the waistband around your neck.

In general, if the band doesn't overlap, the pants are too small. If it overlaps an inch or so, they should fit. And if it overlaps more, they will be too big.

This works best if you try it with some pants you love before you go to the store. That way, you will know how your current favorite pairs measure up, so you can look for the same thing in anything new that you buy.

7. Measure Hip Size With Your Shoulders

If the waist seems like it will fit, check the hip measurement. Find the widest part of the pants and hold that up to the widest part of your shoulder. If your shoulders are wider than the pants, they are likely too small. If the pants are just a bit wider than your shoulders, they will likely work well. And if they are a lot wider than your shoulders, they will probably be too big.

8. Check Your Fabric

The fabric you want for an item of clothing will be determined by what that item is, how you plan to wear it, what your style is, and what you like. There are several different common clothing fabrics, and many, many different blends that mix them.

Finding what you like often takes trial and error. It may help you to look at the tags on clothes you already own and love, to figure out what you'd like to buy more of in the future. If nothing else, trust your intuition. If you don't like how something feels on the rack or on your body in the store, you probably won't wear it.

9. Use a Tailor

This might seem like it doesn't belong here, because tailoring and shopping don't often go together. However, a good tailor can sometimes work miracles with a piece that isn't quite perfect. And for some body shapes, a good tailor is a godsend.

An example: I have narrow hips, so it's hard for me to find pants that fit in both waist and hips. If I find a pair I like that fits in the waist, I know that my tailor can usually take in the hips without much hassle. It's an extra expense, but sometimes it's worth it for that perfect fit.

It's easier for a tailor to make something smaller than bigger, so keep this in mind when making your purchases. In addition, simple things, like taking in a waist, will be much faster and cheaper than things that require your tailor to completely dismantle a piece of clothing.

Shopping for clothes can feel impossible and frustrating, but it doesn't have to. I hope these tips will help you feel confident and find clothes that you love!

Do you like to shop? How do you avoid the frustration and annoyance that can come with buying clothes?

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Guest's picture

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