Eight Common Shopping Mistakes (and How to Avoid Them)

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Eight Common Shopping Mistakes (and How to Avoid Them)

Whether you love shopping and eagerly anticipate every outing, or you shop strictly out of necessity, you’ve no doubt experienced at least a few unsuccessful excursions. We’ve all come home with wardrobe pieces that aren’t quite right for us or ended up empty-handed because we weren’t sure of what we needed or felt overwhelmed by too many choices. This is why we have all, at one time or another, ended up with a closet full of clothes and nothing to wear.

I’ve worked with hundreds of clients over the years, and I’ve noticed people making the same shopping mistakes again and again. I’m going to share a few of them today so you can avoid them and get more success out of each shopping trip.  

Buying sale items that you don’t need (or even like that much). It’s hard to resist a sale, but many women end up buying clearance items for no other reason than the fact that they were cheap. Do a gut check before you buy highly reduced items off the sale rack and ask yourself some questions first: Can I imagine myself wearing the garment more than once? Where would I wear it? Does it fit somewhere in my existing wardrobe or would I need to purchase other items to make a coherent look? Is it in a color that resonates with me? Is it well made? Asking these questions can prevent you from buying something you don’t love and potentially can’t return.

Buying multiples of the same type of item. Sometimes we buy similar items repeatedly because it suits our signature style. For example, you may have five pairs of black slim-fitting pants because you frequently wear them to work. But often, we end up with repeats of similar clothing because we are unsure of what we have at home. This is why it’s important to regularly organize your closet to ensure that it is tidy and that your clothing is visible. Before you shop, you should be able to quickly identify what’s missing from your wardrobe that you might consider buying next and what you already have plenty of.

Going shopping without a plan. Before you hit the stores, you need to have an idea of what you need or want and which stores you would like to visit. Keep a mental list of items you would like to buy. It can be general (“I want some work-appropriate earrings”) or more specific (I’m looking for a black or gray pair of running shoes”), but make sure you at least have an idea of what you’re looking for. You will likely know it when you see it.

Getting hung up on size. Make sure you are choosing your clothing based upon fit and not on the size printed on the label. First of all, when it comes to clothing, sizing varies from one brand to another. So even if you are a size 8 in your favorite brands, it’s entirely possible that you would need to go up or down a few sizes for other clothing lines. Further, it’s much healthier not to get attached to the idea of being a certain size. Our weight fluctuates throughout our lives and what matters most is that we love ourselves and let our clothing be a reflection of that love.

Believing you need to buy the trends. It’s fun to follow the trends and be aware of the runway looks each season. But it’s also important to have a keen understanding of which materials, colors, and cuts suit your body type and your fashion personality—and to let that sense of style be your North Star. Purchase that on-trend jumpsuit or those cropped flared jeans only if you love them.

Choosing poorly made items. It is usually a better game plan to shop less often and buy better-quality (and, yes, more expensive) pieces than to buy less expensive pieces that you have to replace each season because they wear out or fall apart. Therefore, be selective in the items you choose and don’t settle for garments constructed with threadbare or poorly constructed fabrics and uneven stitching. In particular, you will be glad you purchased higher-quality slim-fitting jeans, ankle boots in a classic shape, and timeless outerwear such as a trench or a long wool coat. These investment pieces stand the test of time and will look great season upon season.

Shopping when you’re not in the right mood or mindset. It’s generally a bad idea to shop when you’re stressed or feeling unhappy for any reason. Trying on clothes can be a challenging and vulnerable experience for many, so it is often best to save a shopping trip for a day when you feel clear-minded and optimistic. By the way: Never shop on an empty stomach and always carry a water bottle in your purse. Feeling “hangry” or dehydrated will add unnecessary stress.

Not getting help when you need it. If you are unsure of which styles and colors look best on you, it never hurts to get a little extra support. Working with a fashion professional like an image consultant or a personal stylist for a few sessions can give you a clearer idea of how to work with your existing clothing and incorporate a few strategic new pieces to reveal the best version of yourself.

If you recognize some of your own habits in the mistakes above, don’t fret! This advice is solely intended to help you course correct so you can make more loving choices that enable you to feel your best each day. That’s what happens when you dress for you and choose outfits that make you glow inside and out.    


  • Marla Tomazin

    Marla Tomazin, Certified Image Consultant, established her image consulting business in 1990 with the goal of helping clients identify an authentic image and develop its effective expression. Marla utilizes her abilities in evaluating body shape, movement, and coloring as well as synthesizing optimal cuts, lines, colors, and textures. This results in balance and proportion that accentuate attributes and conceal flaws. Marla has appeared on numerous TV and radio stations and programs. Visit www.marlatomazin.com.

3 Responses

  1. Anni says:


  2. Anni,

    So glad you enjoyed my article!


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