We’re a nation that loves to shop. According to Statistica, the UK spent around £57.5billion on clothing last year alone. That’s a lot of shopping bags to be carrying around.
But while we probably all love a shopping spree, we’re more than likely making a fair few mistakes while we’re scouring the rails. Whether it’s being drawn in by unnecessary sale purchases, or buying things that just don’t suit us, we asked three personal shoppers to tell us about our top shopping errors. And how to fix them, of course!
1. We go crazy at the sales
While it’s great to be a bargain hunter, you should pride yourself on being a smart bargain hunter, says Natalie Robinson, a celebrity stylist and personal shopper from Style Icon.
‘Get to know the retail staff in your favourite stores and kindly ask them to contact you when your favourite items go down in the sale,’ she tells us.
‘Edit your wardrobe pre-sale to establish what you really need to avoid that unnecessary spending.’
2. We always trust a friend’s advice
‘Going shopping with a friend can be awesome – or disastrous,’ warns Stephanie Roper, a stylist and personal shopper at The Wardrobe Angel. ‘If you don’t have a keen sense of style you can often come away from a shopping trip looking like your friend, or a version of someone your friend wants you to look like.’
Sound familiar? Stick to meeting your friend for a coffee instead. Unless, of course, they have your best interest at heart. Then shop, shop, shop!
3. We don’t set ourselves a budget
Budgeting means you’re less likely to run yourself into debt, but don’t think it’s as simple as leaving your cards at home and taking cash.
‘Leaving a credit card at home may not prevent you from shopping, as you could be tempted to apply for a store card instead,’ says Natalie.
‘Use cash you’ve saved up specifically for the sales. It’s better to spend on the go with cash and enjoy the feeling, without having to worry about repayments at a later date.’
4. We never look properly at our wardrobes
How many of us have bought something, only to get home and see something VERY similar already hanging in our wardrobes?
‘If you have a blouse at home that goes with nothing, make the point of buying a pair of trousers to match,’ she tells us. ‘Be strict with yourself, and don’t buy anything else just because it looks nice or is in the sale.’
5. We buy clothes that are too big for us
‘The biggest mistake I see with sizing is people buying clothes that are too big,’ says Stephanie. ‘Many people think they’re bigger than they are, which leads to them buying clothes that don’t fit.’
The most important thing to remember is that, annoyingly, there is no standardisation of sizing on the high street. So a 14 in one shop will be a 12 in another.
Stephanie always recommends taking your ‘normal’ size plus one above and one below into the changing room. Then it’s all about being honest with yourself.
6. We value quantity over quality
It’s not about how many pieces of clothing you can buy with your budget, but the quality of the item.
‘Quality speaks volumes,’ Natalie tells us. ‘It’s better to treat yourself to an expensive item two or three times a year, such as a designer bag or a fabulous Winter coat that has longevity.’
‘At the end of the day, an expensive item is always better value for money if you consider cost-per-wear.’
7. We buy shoes that will definitely be too high for us
‘We often become magpies when it comes to shoes and bags because, let’s face it, they nearly ALWAYS fit,’ Stephanie tells us.
‘The one question we should ask ourselves when shoe shopping is: what do I need these shoes to do? Are they for walking the dog? Putting the finishing touch to an event outfit? The perfect day-to-night sandal? If they don’t fit the criteria, then don’t buy them.’
Heel height is usually the biggest problem, and Stephanie warns us of something she calls ‘the heel height sweet spot’.
‘You may be really comfy in a two-inch heel, but tottering about in a three-inch. By adjusting your posture – shoulders back and spine lengthened – you can grow another inch anyway!’
8. We don’t go with a shopping list
‘It’s better to know exactly what you want before you go clothes shopping,’ says Natalie. ‘Make a to-do list with priority items at the top. This way, you’ll save yourself both time and money.’
9. We buy items that won’t go with anything
‘When I take people out personal shopping, I never let them buy something that doesn’t go with anything else in their wardrobe,’ Karen says. ‘Instead, think capsule wardrobe.’
A capsule wardrobe is a small wardrobe of clothes that all co-ordinate with each other. So you may have three colours of similar shade, depth and intensity, or have three blouses and three tops that can mix and match with a classic pair of trousers, some jeans and a nice skirt.
10. We’re obsessed with fast fashion
‘Fast fashion won’t give your wardrobe longevity,’ says Stephanie. ‘And fast, disposable fashion is a cheap thrill that’ll never last.’
Instead, develop your own sense of style using things like Pinterest, then distill that into a three-word style. If an item of clothing doesn’t match your three words, let it go!
11. We rarely buy just one full outfit
For most of us, shopping trips usually mean we buy random items here and there, but how about actually buying a full outfit?
‘I always suggest to my clients when we are out shopping that they buy one full outfit,’ Karen says. ‘That way, they are not buying random items of clothing without thinking about what it could go with.’