What if I Hate Shopping?

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I think one reason women are famous for loving shoe shopping is because no matter what mood you are in, how many extra pounds you are carrying, what hips you inherited from your mother, shoes fit and are sexy, fashionable and fun.

Woman can not live on shoes alone, so how does one make the trek out of the shoe department and into the rest of the mall more appealing? How does one survive the fluorescent lights, the snooty salespeople, the tiring hikes from one end of a mall to the other?

PROPER ATTIRE. Yes, there is proper shopping attire. What you choose to wear can make or break your shopping experience.

1. The proper undergarments. The best undergarments are those that are the most flattering under clothes, and the most invisible under clothes. A seamless bra with great support in a nude color is a wise choice. It's hard to really know the tranparency of a white shirt when you are wearing a black bra. Same with your underwear. A skin toned pair that does not show panty lines, and give a smooth look under clothing is a good choice.

2. Comfortable shoes in a height you regularly wear. You may look positively fabu in those spiky heels, but your feet will be very angry after just a few stores. A pair of casual flip flops are not the best option either. If you plan to shop for trousers, wear shoes with the heel height you would wear most often with trousers. If you are shopping for skirts, it's not the best idea to wear boots and socks – it is pretty much impossible to know how shorts, capris or a skirt will look when wearing socks. A great choice is a mule, a slide, or a pair of pumps – shoes with a comfortable fit, a familiar height, easy to slip on and off and would flatter your legs as you try on clothes.

3. Wrinkle-resistant attire. Not the best idea to wear linen trousers when you plan on pulling them on and off over and over again in stuffy cramped fitting rooms. After two stores, you will look like a discarded shopping bag and grimace every time you catch a glimpse of yourself in a shop window. Knits, matte jersey, synthetic blends – you cannot go wrong and you will feel comfortable all day.

4. Dress to impress. I have over ten years of retail experience and though I hate to admit it, salespeople do judge their customers by their appearance. If there are ten customers and only one salesperson, that salesperson will approach the best dressed person first. Usually those who are well dressed will spend more money. This doesn't mean you need to wear a dress or suit to the mall. A nice sweater and a pair of trousers, capris or fashion denim will suffice. They will hold up through many changing rooms, and you will maintain a polished look.

5. Accessorize! Wearing the jewelry you would normally wear with an outfit will help your try-on seem more realistic and appealing. If you don't feel comfortable wearing these pieces to the mall, bring them in your purse. If you are shopping for a job interview – bring your pearls. For a wedding… bring your chandelier earrings or wrap.

6. Do your hair and face. Without a polished face, those fluorescent lights are even more brutal. Somehow a greasy ponytail and a blank face in a department store fitting room can make you look like a convict. Also, it's hard to see if a color is good with your skin tone, or a neckline is flattering if you don't look like how you normally look when wearing that type of clothing. Bring powder and lipstick to reapply after multiple trying-ons.

I promise that if you follow these suggestions, you will have a more pleasurable shopping experience once you actually find clothes worthy of trying on.

Now, how do you find clothes? It is an awful experience walking into stores and not finding a single flattering or properly fitting article of clothing. Nothing is more depressing than taking a huge handful of clothing into a fitting room and none of it fits. Here are some tips to having more shopping success:

1. Judge a book by it's cover: The look of the window displays, the marketing throughout the store, the type of music playing over the speakers, and most importantly – the attire and style of the salespeople will tell you quickly what type of clothes are sold in that store. Why even waste your time walking into a store playing loud club music, salespeople in electric green eye makeup, store window mannequins in leather micro minis and halter tops when you are shopping for an interview suit for a government agency? Yes, you may find a gem in an unexpected store, but save that gem hunt for days when you have your base wardrobe, feel good about your collection and are looking for great pieces to accent.

2. Map out your journey. Before wandering aimlessly through the mall, getting frustrated by the step, start out with a map or a directory of a mall. Circle where the stores you want to visit are. This will give you focus and a goal. You will waste less time too.

It's great to online pre-window shop before heading out for a day of shopping. Websites usually set the tone for the type of clothing that is sold in a store, the color stories they plan to focus on that season and the major trends that they will be showcasing.

3. Make a grocery list. It is so easy to get off track in malls if you don't have your priorities clearly defined. For each store you enter have your mantra: “Black pants, pencil skirt. Black pants, pencil skirt.” This will help you search harder for said needed items, and help prevent spending your budget on that awesome green sequined mini skirt that goes with nothing and will do nothing for you except blow your budget and stuff your closet with yet another item that will go to the Goodwill in ten years with the price tags still attached.

A bikini wax is not fun, but necessary if you want to look good on the beach in a skimpy bathing suit. A gym workout is not always fun, but necessary to fit into that great dress for your high school reunion. Underwire bras are not the most comfortable things, but necessary if you have medium to large breasts and want them to look perky and well-shaped. Same with shopping. There may be 50,000 things you would like to do more than spend the better part of a day at the mall, but it's necessary to get the wardrobe you need and deserve – a proper collection of clothing that will flatter, support your lifestyle, and make you feel more confident and attractive.

A woman with curly hair wearing a plaid blazer holds a green fur coat over her shoulder on a city street.

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  1. Maybe that’s why I hate shopping!  I have slightly narrow feet, and shoes NEVER fit.  Other women just run out and pick up a pair, while it takes me months (or sometimes never) to find something I can wear.

  2. Maybe that’s why I hate shopping!  I have slightly narrow feet, and shoes NEVER fit.  Other women just run out and pick up a pair, while it takes me months (or sometimes never) to find something I can wear.

  3. I’m Australian so the sizes I’m talking won’t be the same as yours but I’m sure you’ll get the drift…I’m in my mid 30s; I have size 12 shoulders, size 12 chest, size 8 bust, size 10 waist and 12 hips/backside. I don’t hate clothes shopping, I LOATHE it.

    I recently went with my older sisters to a DFO (one sister was turning 40 so it was a trip to please her); out of the 4 of us I was the only one to not buy anything.

    I give up; I have to learn to sew my own pants. Why? Because hipster pants have been “in” for so long that they’ve even taken over the racks in the 2nd-hand stores (previously my best bet for flattering attire). I’m left screaming, “I’m a woman, not a bloke – I have a waist! Having a three inch gap at the back of my trousers showing my underwear is NOT a professional look!” Sigh.

    And to think that half the problem could be solved if they simply made the zippers longer so the waist could open wider and close smaller. Double sigh.

  4. I have two young children and not much time to shop. In the past year I have found it helpful to focus my shopping efforts on one favorite department store and get to know their lines and their sales. It saves me time since I get to know the store’s merchandise and layout and I can make most of my purchases in one place. Then I branch out if I have extra time or other needs or my “main” store does not have anything that works for me.

    I also especially like sales that include extended shopping hours to 10 p.m. I shop by myself after my children go to bed at 8 and get some peaceful time to myself.

  5. This is a fantastic reference — Walking into stores with self – assurance is key. The sales people can smell it if you’re feeling insecure and will behave in an even more snooty way, which will leave you feeling more demoralized. You have to just rock it! It’s your experience & most sales people really want to help you, because they have pride in their job.

  6. At 58, I really think that underwires “disappear” if they fit you properly. They shouldn’t dig into the tender flesh of your breast or underarm at all. If they do, you need a different brand and/or a different size.

    Take it from someone who sews, those underwires come in all sizes and in different shapes.

  7. This is a really great post…. sometimes I slip my higher heeled shoes in a plastic bag in my tote, to change into to see how I would look with those clothes.

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