When you’re shopping it can be hard to figure out what to buy when there is just so much variety and choice out there.
I’ve shown you a general Parisian chic wardrobe in this segment, and now this one on how to choose these pieces while shopping.
GO INTO LOW, MEDIUM AND HIGH-END SHOPS
Low-end shops include H&M and Forever 21.
Medium-end shops include Top Shop, Zara, The Gap, Banana Republic and J. Crew
High-End shops include Intermixx, Mendocino and any place that sells designer anything.
What you want to do, is peruse the racks with an eagle eye and just go around touching things that catch your attention.
Don’t be shy to try things on even if you know you won’t buy them.
You need to know what works on your body and how it makes you feel, regardless of the price tag.
Not only that, the more you look and try on things in stores at different price ranges, the faster it will be because you can just eyeball something and say:
This is not going to work on me, puffed sleeves make me look like linebacker.
This fabric is too itchy to be comfortable even if it’s 100% wool and super expensive.
I don’t really have to try on things any more because now I just eyeball garments.
IGNORE THE PRICE TAG & LABEL — FOCUS ON THE GARMENT ITSELF
Sometimes you might find the perfect minimalist shell top that will go with EVERYTHING and it is $150, but can be paired with low-end jeans, or higher-end handbags.
The price generally doesn’t matter as much as the actual cut, fit & styling of the garment.
It is true that in the lower-end chains like Old Navy or Forever 21, the clothes will look cute on the rack and even look like they fit well, but depending on the fabric, it may not last through more than 3 washes before looking absolutely terrible, or the stitching will not be as well-done and will come apart like tissue paper in your hands.
I am not saying this is a rule, but it seems to be the trend that is slowly creeping into mid-tier brands as well, namely J. Crew (our favourite flogging clotheshorse) and Banana Republic.
With that said, I have purchased things from lower-end chains like Dynamite (like this really great jersey, unlined black blazer) that has washed well, worn well and lasted about 8 years and counting.
It’s a hit and miss which is why you need to focus on the actual piece of clothing itself, ignoring the designer label, what a great deal it is, how pretty the colour is, or the price tag.
Case in point; this dress below? $15, thrifted and it’s 100% cotton and a perfect summer dress.
CRUMPLE THE FABRIC INTO A BALL & RELEASE
Don’t do this with linen, but if you are absolutely a fiend about not looking crumpled & messy, try balling up a corner of the garment really tightly then releasing. If you see it wrinkled & gross, it means that from standing, sitting, moving around and being a human being, you will look wrinkly and rumpled after a while. It’s a trick stylists use and I read all about in books.
SCRUTINIZE THE STITCHING
This is an emphasis to my point above — make sure you check the seams. Lightly try to pull the garment apart and see if any threads come loose. I’d also check to see how well it is stitched in terms of evenness and tightness. Higher-end garments tend to last longer because they’re stitched with a longer amount of time allotted (not some fast fashion factory churning out 400 shirts an hour) and the seamstress or tailor takes care of the work.
ASK YOURSELF IF IT COULD BE WORN WITH AT LEAST 3 OUTFITS
For any single piece of clothing, ask yourself if you can picture it being worn in 3 distinct, different outfits. Don’t cheat and say: jeans, jeans jeans! Try thinking about how you could belt it, throw a jacket over it, wear it under a dress, over a dress, etc.
IGNORE THE TAGGED SIZE & TRY IT ON IN 3 DIFFERENT SIZES
I know this is a hard thing to do if you are self-conscious about your size (but you shouldn’t be!), but I always take what I think is my size, then one below and one above.
You never know, you may end up preferring the smaller size because the fit / tightness is perfect, or the larger size because you want it a little looser and more bohemian.
Give it a shot, and ignore the tag itself. It’s just a number.
ASK YOURSELF IF YOU’D PAY AT LEAST $100 FOR IT
Finally, when you have the item in your hand, ask yourself if you’d pay triple its price tag or at least $100 for it, depending on the base price. If you have something in your hands that is $30 let’s say, but you wouldn’t shell out $90 for it, maybe you might want to reconsider.
However, if you have something in your hands that is worth $10 but you would have paid $50 for it because it really fits well and is a great colour for you, then snap it up.
Don’t spend money just for the sake of spending it, whether it’s on very expensive designer items, or on very cheap throwaway fashion.
I am obviously biased because I am not a fan of fast fashion but I do acknowledge that it isn’t all bad and some items are really good at that price point.
(See? That’s me trying hard to be a democratic fashionista, rather than a snob).
An example I have is this skirt I bought from Simons for $50; it was a midi-length (usually not my favourite look to pull off because you need heels), and it was 100% polyester rather than being viscose or something nicer.
Still, I REALLY liked the look, the draping and the feel and I could immediately imagine myself wearing it as pictured below with different tops, and with different belts.
The real kicker was when I said: Would I pay more money for this style and cut?…. and the answer was yes. I could see this skirt as a $250 piece, in a nicer fabric of course but that would be about it.
But then the other day I tried on this very-pretty-online Garden Party Dress from Simons for a whopping $160 and the fabric was so thin, I couldn’t justify keeping it no matter how pretty because it was really only worth $50 in my eyes.
So, I sent it back.
Price tags are just markers and numbers. Ignore them in determining whether or not the garment works for you.
After it makes it through your filters of what flatters and fits you, THEN look at the price.
To sum it up: Scrutinize every purchase, ignore the mental markers like size & pricetag, and TRY TRY TRY everything on to learn what works and what doesn’t.
That to me, is the core of the Parisian fashion shopping habits. They know what they like and won’t settle for less.
If you want to read more on how I scrutinize each of my purchases, read: how to never regret buying a piece of clothing again.