How To Shop Smarter Right Now

You need to shop for clothes. You may love it, you may hate it, but unless you are living full-time in a nudist colony you need to buy clothes. And whether you love it or hate it the end goal is to come home with purchases that you love and will wear. So why do you have stuff in your closet with tags on it?

Yes, I know you do. I know you do because everybody does. Now instead of asking yourself why you are NOT wearing it ask yourself this:

Why did I buy it?

The are many possible answers to this questions. Examples include:

“I liked it.”

“It was on sale.”

“I thought I needed it.”

“In case I needed it.”

We all have TOO MUCH STUFF, and specifically I mean TOO MUCH STUFF IN OUR CLOSETS. 

The simple truth is that we are regular people. We are not celebrities who cannot be photographed in the same thing. There is no paparazzi following us around while we go grab our coffee and our dry cleaning. Our lives are not structured that we get to wear everything we own.

Now I am not suggesting you stop shopping and give up. What I am telling you is to curate carefully.

How do we curate carefully?

Much like a museum curator you can’t take it all. It won’t all fit in our closets and too much stuff leads to chaos. When we have too many choices we can’t see the forest from the trees. It gets overwhelming. Then we give up. We reach for the same old thing.  To come up with a wardrobe filled with only stuff you love and will actually wear you need to edit out the items that are not working (see my previous post for help). Then you need to shop with the eye of a curator. This sounds harder than it really is. There is one question that can make this process super easy.

Where are you wearing it?

I ask my clients this question all the time when we are editing their closets. You can ask yourself the same thing when you are out shopping. It is a simple question but you have to be honest with yourself if you want to answer it truthfully. You should be able to think of at least 3 ways/places/occasions that you can wear an item to before you select it as an addition to your wardrobe. Some people shop in a state of almost unconsciousness, the throw things into our cart because they like them. Other people are results oriented shoppers. They went out to the store to buy something so they settle for whatever it is that is there in order to fulfill their initial objective of going out to go shopping. Still others, usually those who dislike shopping, go out of necessity. They have an event or a specific occasion. So they pick the first thing that fulfills that immediate need, without thought to how they will, or even if they will, use it in the future.

Lola’s lament.

Take for example a fictional shopper named Lola. Lola is a busy mom of 3 but on Friday is planning to go out with several other women from her neighborhood. They are going to a wine bar to celebrate someone’s birthday so her first thought is “I need something fun.” So Lola runs out to her nearby shopping center. She is limited on time and needs to pick up her youngest from pre-school at noon. She is quickly scanning the racks looking for something that says “fun.” She spots a black tank with silver sequins, it looks “fun.”  She grabs it and races off to her next errand. Friday night comes around and she puts on the tank but doesn’t feel like herself. The tank may look fun but she doesn’t feel fun in it. Back on the hanger it goes, getting hung up in dark recesses of the closet. She will plan on returning it but will never get there. She will throw on another top that she has had and already feels comfortable in. She doesn’t love it but is running late and it will do. She will then look at her other friends while she is out and think “why couldn’t I wear something like that?”

Where did Lola go wrong?

First, she tried to go too far out of her comfort zone. It’s great to go for something a little different but don’t buy something just because you think you are “supposed” to. Lola already is fun, she doesn’t need a top to make that statement for her.

Second, she should have stopped herself right there and asked where she was going to wear that top again. If it seemed like a one time wear she should have moved on.

Third, she should have looked for an item that will go with things she will already have, that way it is guaranteed to work into her wardrobe. If she looked through her closet and noticed she has lots of solid tanks and t’s in black and white, she could have opted to buy a pair of red jeans instead. The red jeans would be “fun”
for the Friday night if she puts them with one of  her t-shirts, cute necklace and heels. She can also wear them with converse sneakers and a gray t-shirt to a baseball game, as well as a cute button down for a volunteer day at the kid’s school.

Clothes sell a fantasy.

The hardest part about conscious shopping is coming to terms with our reality. I have long wanted to cream cable knit wool fisherman sweater. I want to wear it with my Hunter wellie boots and Barbour rain jacket while I am walking with my Foxhound named Chester on the grounds of Madonna’s country estate in England. Madonna herself will come by on her horse and tell me that it is time for high tea. I will then go in to my guest house and change into  the perfect Chanel suit to have tea with Madonna and Victoria Beckham.

This undated photo supplied by Vogue, shows Madonna on her horse beside husband Guy Richie at the English country estate.
image via Pinterest


Except I don’t know these people. I have no plans to go to England. My dog is a beagle who likes to sleep, not go for walks. This is why the only piece of this fantasy I own is the Hunter wellies. And I wear them all the time. In the slushy sleet to drive the kids to school, when it is pouring rain and I am at the grocery store, on the beaches in New Jersey. It is my real life.

I have other fantasy purchases. Rock star girlfriend on tour, screen star in St. Tropez yacht, I could go on and on. The key is not give up on the things you love but to find ways to incorporate them into more of your everyday wardrobe. Then you can live out a piece of the fantasy every day.

*Insider Tip – Don’t be afraid to repeat.

I know in the age of Facebook and Instagram it seems like a great outfit is a one and done. It doesn’t have to be. Most people can’t remember what they wore last week let alone what you were wearing. Kate Middleton is the perfect example, and EVERYONE is looking at everything she is wearing. Yet she has repeated some of her best dresses a few times. I’d say if she can do it we all definitely can do it.

Now and Then: Kate Middleton Re-Works her Favourite Roksanda Ilincic Dress
via Pinterest

The black lace dress from Temperly has been to 3 separate events.

Temperly amoret lace dress, worn January 8, 2012 & November 8, 2012 & December 11, 2013
via Pinterest

Actress Keira Knightly wore her favorite Chanel dress 3 times. First on the red carpet, then to her own wedding and most recently adding a beaded mesh top underneath the dress for a completely different look.

Did Keira Knightley Just Wear Her Wedding Dress for the Third Time? |
image via Pinterest


*Insider Tip – Don’t be afraid to remix.

One of my favorite things to do is to help clients shop their own closets. I take the pieces you already own and remix them into new outfit combinations. We all get in the habit of labeling certain items. This skirt is “dressy”, this jacket is “preppy”. I can help you take away the labels and remix them into more options. Model  Miranda Kerr wears her leather pants sleek with all black, casual with denim and sneaks and funky with a hat and tweed.

GENETIC PANTS photo | Miranda Kerr


Here is a simple stripe dress I re-mixed for a client. First I made casual and then remixed the accessories for an evening look.

2013-04-24 10.21.48 2013-04-24 10.27.37


So the next time you go shopping don’t forget to bring with you the one question you will need. Now get out there and get some fabulous pieces for spring, and make sure you WEAR them!




Thanks for reading!
















Published by suziegaffney

owner at Suzie Gaffney Styling

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