June 19, 2008
Here’s a real-life scenario that I experienced while doing some research for a David’s Fashion NY in a high-end clothing store.
A saleswoman in a department store was considering purchasing a particular top and bottom outfit (along with a blouse that matched perfectly) from the store where she worked. She was a newly divorced woman and single-mother of one child. She had a figure to die for and face that could easily be in magazines. This particular outfit was way out off her price range–like by a small mortgage amount– and we found ourselves in a discussion about what she should purchase if she could only purchase one item in the set.
If you were in a similar situation, which of the following options would be your smartest investment?
A. The jacket top: an Armani in what I believe is the Blue Bold Diamer pattern. A fitted cut that would make you look like you’re worth a million dollars.
B. The blouse: a white fitted, smooth silky top that would go well with any item you put on.
C. The skirt: made of the same Bold Diamer pattern that flows and helps to give you that well-put-together womanly feel.
Do you have your choice?
Now let me tell you first what the salesperson suggested.: She chose the jacket top.
For me, this is not the right choice.
This is what I told her, and again, she knows how to dress, looks incredible, and advises others on making purchasing decisions.
Don’t buy the jacket. If you’re lucky, you could wear this item 3 times in the next year or two and each time everyone will notice it’s the same garment. (If she traveled for a living and did not see the same people all the time, I would advise differently.)
Besides, did this woman have the $1200 to spend on a jacket? From our conversation and her situation, NO.
Don’t buy the blouse. Blouses are always going on sale and spending money on the Armani would have been overkill for her. She could carry a $39-$99 blouse without any trouble and still look great. The price in her department was $400.
The skirt, if she were to purchase anything, was the item she should take home.
There are several reasons. The skirt was cut beautifully and highlighted her figure. The skirt could also be worn with white, red, blue, and black shoes of a high heal or low heal, a pump or open toe or open back. Just the shoes would change the look. Add a thin belt, a fat belt. A white, yellow, or pink shirt. Sleeveless or long sleeve. And she could make the skirt the highlight of the outfit or just an accessory to a larger picture.
The skirt was the most versatile of all the garments.
When I finished, she stood there for a minute and then said, “I never would have purchased the skirt, but now I see it as the best item on the rack, especially in my situation. Besides the $400 skirt I can pick up for $200 using my discount.”
So the next time you’re faced with a decision, make sure you’re thinking for yourself. It’s not that the advice of salespeople are all wrong; it’s that not all salespeople see the big picture or know what looks best on you. Besides, they don’t know your wallet, your closet, or your life style.
June 17, 2008
People ask, “What should I buy now?” There’s no magic time to shop. Every season has its sales, deals, and discounts. Every year has its trends, fads, colors, and patterns. So I recommend a different approach that can work during any season.
Begin with a methodology to shopping even before you start.
STEP 1A. It’s always fun to shop the trends. And although new trends are ushered in every season, they don’t change drastically from one year to another…usually. That’s great news to the discount shopper.
To get great deals, buy ahead. That means that if you want to update your Summer 2009 wardrobe, buy at the end of the Summer 2008 season. Retailers need to move product quickly at the end of their seasons to make room for the next season’s merchandise. And who doesn’t love to get 70% off something in mid-August that will take you through September and will still be fresh next April when the new Spring season arrives!
Don’t wait for sales. Take advantage of the sales that are currently running. Remember, it’s easier to buy in preparation than in desperation. You get what you want instead of settling for what you can scrounge up. The other benefit to shopping when the time is right is that you can stretch your wardrobe budget!
STEP 1. I alway recommend to start clothing shopping by walking the store quickly to get a lay of the land as to what is available. The quick scan maximizes time when you’re on the hunt for the inventory that’s on sale. To me, no matter how much you have, if there is great merchandise on sale, why not pick these items up first so you can add more to the items that matter most or you can use the money for some other worthwhile living experiences since shopping is not the end all.
I remember a great find at DSW’s sale rack where I found for Lorrie the shoe pictured. It’s perfect to wear with a pair of boot-cut jeans as it looks like a boot with a big surprise under the pant. Every time she takes a step, the medallion-type “flower” pops out. When she sits down, it’s completely visable. She looks great wearing them and for US$14, you can’t go wrong.
For myself, I’ve purchased a pair of US$120 pants for $4.69 off the on sale rack. When I brought it to the register, the person behind me said he couldn’t buy a beer for that price. The woman he was with just could not believe the price.
Last year I found a leather jacket that was marked down several times from $450 to what I thought was $60. An absolute great find. At the register, I was told the price was wrong, it was $30.
I found a $1200 suit for $399, bangles for $10, jackets for $40, handbags for $60.
Shoes, accessories, clothing, bathing suits…the item does not matter. I always go to the back of the shop or check the sales first.
STEP 2. Shop to fill a space in your wardrobe and not just to look around. If you’re just looking, you’ll buy. Not good. If you approach shopping like going to an auction and sticking to a limit on an item, you’ll only buy what you need.
Need a pair of shoes? Take several accessories with you to buy the shoes. Then start with the sale rack and move forward to the front for current goods.
STEP 3. Walk the store keeping in mind you have certain criteria that fit your shape and style. Don’t waste your time looking at everything. Use the principles of shopping to filter out where you travel. In essence, don’t shop the store, you shop what works. If you find an item, walk with it and continue looking, don’t just throw it on unless it’s something that fits over your existing standard wardrobe we’ve talked about. You’ll find that shortly thereafter, you’ll typically find something else you like better. Then put the other one down and keep on walking.
STEP 4. Try on what you like and then in the mirror, take a picture of yourself using your cell phone or camera. If you still like it, take a picture of the garment close up so you can remember it. Depending on the store and the inventory, ask if they can hold it until the end of the day. If they can’t, do the “misfile-hide” trick. Put the item where you can return to find it.
Don’t buy unless your’re absolutley in love with the items or they fit like a glove.
My belief is that if you really love the item and it fits your closet, you’ll come back for it after you’ve done your walking. If you decide it’s not worth the effort to return to the store, what are you telling yourself….IT’S NOT WORTH IT.
STEP 5. Lastly, don’t be afraid to ask if there are any specials or discounts you can take advantage of while making your purchases.
* behind the counter coupons could take $100 off your bill.
* commissioned sales staff can drop 5% without batting an eye.
* buy 1 get 1 free deals may have been advertised or are to be advertaised that can be used.
*if you buy something today, and it goes on sale next week, many stores allow you to return with your receipt only. Submit the receipt, and they’ll re-ring your items, refunding the savings from their current sales prices.
A few weeks ago, a guy in front of me came in to buy two pairs of shoes and left with five! If he’d entered the store with a strategy, he may have left with two pairs of shoes he loved, saving himself money, instead of storing three extra pairs in the closet that might collect dust.
This type of shopping works all year long and is not specific to a season. It’s more practical and keeps your closet free of extras.
June 10, 2008
Beth asks me….”As a woman I’ve got so many shoes to pack, and airlines keep charging for extra bags just to bring my shoes with me. What can I do?”
Beth, first off let’s take a look at packing smart. Packing is not about shoes but about creating a look that works for you. If you’re a traveler, this is an extremely important first step. The reason is that travelers need to stick to a narrower range of colors so that when they pack, every piece becomes part of a combination machine.
Let me give you the strategy I use and one that’s easily transferable to anyone’s closet.
Perhaps you’ve heard of the process where people are categorized by seasons of the year, depending on what colors look good on them. Your skin color and tones, your natural hair color, and your eye color help the color consultant determine whether you look best in the warm, neutral colors of autumn or the cool, clear, brights of summer. I’m a winter. This means I can wear certain dark colors including certain grays, blacks and blues. Brown works, however, not as easily. Knowing that I only have so much space in my overnight bag, and ALL my business is out of town, I stick with only the blues, grays and blacks. This means my shoes also remain black. If I take one brown garment I must immediately bring a pair of brown shoes, and to me, it’s not worth the effort.
This approach means that when shopping, I only stick to a certain color range and my closet is also only in this range. The result is it’s pretty easy to pack. When I pack to the extreme, I take two additional pair of shoes: one pair of relaxing shoes, and a pair of Nike sneakers that are paper thin and take up almost no room.
Remember, my three pairs of shoes can take up the space of at least 4 pairs of women’s shoes.
Now for you, consider your color and style. Even though you may want to wear more colors, you, too, can stick to a pallet to increase the ability to use a single pair of shoes in multiple ways. A 3-inch pump can be worn, with slacks that come down to the street so that the shoe is seldom seen. The same shoe can be worn casually with jeans. Bring the pants up some and you’ve now got a new look. Use the same shoe with a skirt while shifting the attention to your belt, and now you’ve got 4 different styles with the same shoes. Remember, depending on whether you’re in a conservative business climate or not, you can also easily slip a pair of strappy sandals in for an exciting night-time look.
The “idea” that women need to bring a lot of shoes is not a myth; women do need to spice up their look more than men in this department. What I’m taking about is being smart about your approach. Keeping in a range, making combinations, and the fact that the shoes may have less size/weight means that if this philosophy cut down on 1 or 2 pair on a trip, you’re winning.
June 1, 2008
While traveling home last week from Alabama, I sat next to a young lady reading Redbook June 2008. While flipping through the magazine, she stopped on this page where I noticed that the writer did not offer enough descriptives as to why the outfits did or did not work. I selected these two outfits out of their lineup to show how simple changes can create huge results. Notice how in image Number One the woman appears waist heavy and a little dumpier. The pants stretch in the waist, the jacket flares out like on a pear and the rolled up sleeves don’t work.
If you feel that making the changes to the next picture are too much, just changing the style of pants and shoes would go a long way to fixing this outfit. A pair of straight-leg jeans or pants would at least remove the central focus.
Outfit Number Two is the same woman wearing different clothing. Wow. Yes, the same woman. She does not look full in the waist. (The smile does help) She also appears taller and has a bolder statement. The combination exemplifies how you to can make simple changes to give a completely different look.
May 22, 2008
Can you guess the five necessities you need to bring with you when you shop? I’ve asked countless woman what they believe these are and I’ve gotten some typical and also wierd suggestions. Here are a few most common:
- Credit card and Money – Yes, a biggie, but you’d not shop without this, so it’s not on the list.
- Water – Good idea, but you can pick this up along the way. (Plus, how many bathroom stops do you want to make?)
- Attitude – Yes, the type of attitude is important.
- Friend – This might actually be bad if they’ve not good taste or know what’s right for you.
- Sneakers – or comfortable shoes would be useful.
- Snacks (Nutritional bar) – I’d prefer to eat on the road, but make sure you have something healthful in you before you start so that you can think clearly and prevent delays.
All good but not the top 5.
Here they are:
- A color chart of your best colors. This way you can insure that the colors you’re selecting fit your personal requirements. You would be surprised how helpful this is when looking at colors that are close in value. It also helps the sales staff to keep on target when advising you.
- A backback or bag with an assortment of shoes and accessories. Women’s stores are set up with most shoes and accessories in different departments and often on different floors. If you have your particular size shoe and one in your style, you’re ahead of the game. The accessories are there to do the same.
- Your made up face. – If you don’t wear your makeup as you wear it every day, you lose that little eye that tells you what your wearing really works for you.
- A white/off while form fitting, collared, fitted shirt. This way you can try on anything your heart desires. If you’d like a scoop neck in your bag, that’s OK, too, but I’d shop with the shirt.
- The right bra and undergarments. – The bra: to make sure the garments you try on fit you the way they should fit. The undergarments: so that your shape is the way you’d expect to wear the garment and so the color does not show through and become a distraction. (If you don’t often wear a bra, you can take it off to try on specific items.)
If this appears to be a lot of work, consider the time and energy invested in selecting an item; do you really want to have to return something because you get it home and it doesn’t work. The better prepared you are, the more complete becomes your wardrobe and the better you look.
With these five necessities taken care of, your entire shopping experience will be more enjoyable and productive.
I will cover more details about each of the 5 in the months to come.