1: Don't take anyone with you. Especially not men and friends. They will have no stamina and won't concentrate properly.
B: Unless your friend is me, haha!
2: You do not have to buy anything. Sometimes the most worthwhile thing about fashion shopping is what it reveals to you about what you have at home. You can seriously underestimate the potential of your existing wardrobe. Going round the right shops will wake you up to this.
B: I concur! One shopping trip to Sydney, I came back empty handed, hubby was flabbergasted, but I actually felt good about it, window shopping is great!
3: There are two main types of clothes-buying. One, the everyday, picked-up-in-your-lunch-hour kind, tends to be local and should always be cheap. Never spend more than a tenner on this kind of shopping. As Karl Lagerfeld says, "go either very cheap or very expensive. It's the middle ground that is fashion nowhere."
B: I totally agree, Karl!
4: Know your city. Between shops, go to a park cafe for tea and a scone and watch the ducks. They will restore your sense of what really is beautiful. On the other hand, shopping in unfamiliar environs with severe restraints does not necessarily mean failure.
5: Always try things on but be prepared to break your own rules about what is right for you.
6: Never buy anything to wear by post.
7: Your most enduring and lastingly flattering things may not come from promising sources.
8: Don't let anyone make you think that shopping is morally undesirable. It's fashion, for heaven's sake, not landmines or ebola. If you have earned your money and are not letting dependent children or animals go cold and hungry then spend it on clothes if you choose to. You are not a less worthy woman for buying good clothes occasionally.
B: Must remember this one...
9: Talk to shop staff. These people aren't mute slaves who know only about hangers.
B: Although I don't usually believe them when they say something looks good on me..
10: Finally, no copouts or compromises. If you do not, there and then in front of that mirror, love whatever it is as much as you loved your favourite things when you were little, then put it back on the hanger, thank the staff and leave. Remind yourself, "Style is saying no" (Diana Vreeland, I think). Short of a third world war, those shops will be there next time with even more beautiful things. It's life, not life and death. If it's not perfect for you at that moment, simply do without.
B: Love that: "Style is saying NO"!
In addition to the above, here are some of my shopping 'tips' (Sharon, I've added a few more from when I wrote to you). I'm not professing them to be groundbreaking, or 'pearls of wisdom', just a few things I have learned or some I am trying to learn:
2. I avoid buying things full-priced, I would rather buy something very good very reduced, than something ordinary (I hope that makes sense). Also, I prefer saving up for one good piece than buy several less expensive pieces that don't mean as much to me. Because I have a shopping budget I have to adhere to, I have to think very carefully before making a purchase.
3. Conversely, do not buy clothes just because they are on sale. With all of the unused sale items you buy, you could buy an amazing piece that you wear all of the time. I usually ask myself: would I still want to buy this if it was not reduced?
More often than not, if I like something at full price, I try to patiently wait for it to be (hopefully) reduced, has worked both online, and in stores. Of course, there are exceptions, for those pieces you really love and can afford, and simply cannot risk selling out, they may not be there when you return.
4. When you find something that really flatters you (at a good price, preferably), buy it in a few colours (eg. the SABA knits I recently bought), that way you do not wear out that one favourite piece too quickly, and you never know when you will find something that flattering again.
5. Do not be afraid to try on one (or more) sizes bigger (or smaller) than your usual size when your size is unavailable or does not suit you. When I was a size AUS 8 (US 4) I bought some items in a size XL or 14 and it didn't matter (I don't always do this, due to vanity sizing, but especially in sales time, I do...)
6. Think outside your 'comfort zone'. Go for some styles, colours, textures, cuts and patterns that you would not normally wear – try them on, you may be surprised (or at least may let you hone in on what definitely does not suit you). A piece of clothing on the rack/hanger can look completely different once on the body.
7. Conversely, do not be a slave to fashion trends, buy what suits you. For me, I do not care how 'in' or 'out' something is, it is whether I like it or not before I saw it in a magazine or on a celebrity.
8. Leads to: Do not be afraid of colour! Black and 'neutrals' are great, but a few colourful pieces in your wardrobe/outfit will breathe some fresh air into your look (if you're so inclined).
I often hear people say: "I wish I could 'pull-off' colour', but pretty much everyone can 'pull-off' almost every colour! Don't rule out a colour because it hasn't suited you, there are several shades to a colour (even white & black), and chances are, if you persist, you'll find the right shade for you. For example, I never thought I would be able to wear yellow, being Asian & having yellow-toned skin, but I found it is all about finding the right yellow.
9. Accessories are great for adding colour to an outfit, or for changing a look entirely. I rely on my shoes/bags/scarves/jewellery for a pop of colour most of the time, although, admittedly in the last few years I have been injecting colourful clothes as well...But a brightly coloured shoe/bag can add so much to an outfit!
10. Belts! Very important for accentuating an 'hourglass' shape (not too wide though), I like changing over belts on a jacket/coat to 'personalize' an outfit.
11. Good basics are worth investing on. I don't mind spending more on coats (they're my favourite piece of clothing), as I find them good 'investments' that can instantly make an outfit, especially trench coats.
12. When adding a new piece/item to your wardrobe, try to think of at least 3 other items already in your wardrobe that you can wear it with. This is a recent one for me, but applies to not only clothes, but accessories (shoes/belt/scarf/etc.).
13. Think Quality vs Quantity.
14. Read the labels. Quality is the most important thing for me along with design. I prefer natural fibres (silk, cashmere, merino wool, cotton, even viscose, which is made of cellulose)
15. Browse other sections (I am only starting do so)...menswear & children wear, especially for accessories (eg. I found a vintage YSL knit tie in a Salvation Army store, which I love & use as a belt)
16. No matter how much you love the style, color, etc., if it does not flatter you, do not buy it.
17. When shopping, dress comfortably, with an easy hairstyle. That way you don't have to worry about "messing up" your hair when you try on different pieces.
18. When buying in a store or online, be aware of their return/exchange policy, and keep receipts & tags on until you wear the item out, if possible. Just in case.
19. When shopping for an occasion, bring everything you know you'll be wearing with you. If you're searching for shoes to go with your dress for an event, bring the dress with you (or vice versa). I even do this if shopping for an undergarment, you want to make sure it looks right with whatever you're wearing over it.
20. When shopping online at a new site, look at the accessories/shoes first, you can usually tell the quality from this section.
21. Subscribe to the newsletters of you favorite online shops - not only do you sometimes get free shipping or discount codes, you often receive updates on new stock arrivals.
But I'll hand it over to you, any shopping tips you would like to add?