"What are the latest fashion trends?" my friend asked me the other day.
As I was standing there pondering about the answer, this season's hottest suspects jumped to mind: puffed sleeves tops, wide-leg pants, colorful bright maxi dresses, and boyfriend blazers. And although this answer to her specific question would be correct, I do not think that is what she wanted to know.
I believe that what she wanted to ask was, "What items should I purchase to look fresh and stylish?"
We often confuse what is trendy and hot with what works for us and our bodies. Yes, delicious new fashion pieces come to market every season, and we want to update our wardrobe with something exciting. The problem arises when we buy a new item based on what others think we should wear. Not what works for our style, bodies, and budget.
When I think about buying a new piece, I first ask myself what is missing in my wardrobe. What do I want to wear that I do not have?
Once I have a general idea, whether it is a dress, pants, or top, I move on to the next step. I think about what suits me and my style. I'm not too fond of greens, yellows, or anything short, see-through, or risky. I like flowy maxi dresses and skirts, jeans, and boyfriend blazers.
After I narrow down what I want, I feel more confident and in control. I know what I am looking for and what budget I have. And I know that no matter what I will find, it will work for me and not someone else.
The next critical step is to filter through thousands of choices. Of course, everything looks cute and stylish at a store or online. Clothes are expertly presented, paired with catchy items. Sales folks are encouraging you. The frill of a new "toy" overtakes reason, and you succumb to a new purchase.
Yes, I have been there.
My Shopping Guide
To avoid unnecessary purchases and wasteful investments, I create a mental checklist for buying a new garment. I hope you find it helpful and maybe, just maybe, it will encourage you to alter your shopping habits next time.
Rule #1: Get out of a small changing room
I get down to a dressing room and start trying on items. As I put the first item on, I walk out of the fitting room into a hall with a large mirror. I like to see myself in a bigger space to get a better sense of a piece. I feel a bit constrained in a tiny fitting room, losing the true essence of a garment.
Rule #2: Listen to your sixth sense
I take sales person's advice with a grain of salt. Yes, sometimes the piece is truly magical and deserves lots of applause. But often, it is not. Very often, it is "just O.K." And we do not settle for "just O.K."
Rule #3: Leave it alone
I gather the items I loved and head to a register. I pay for my things and head home. I let the garments sit in a bag for a day or two to let the frill of a new purchase wear off at home. Very often, we are so excited at the moment that we allow for an "O.K." garment to slip into our purchase. So it is critical to have a cool-off period.
Rule #4: Try it on again
I try the items again, now at home with my existing wardrobe items. I review how they pair with my pieces, how they fit me, and my style. After a careful review, I consider one last time whether I want the keep them or not.
Rule #5: Just because you paid for it does not mean you have to keep it
If I am not frilled with a piece or two for some reason, I will place them back in the bag and return the items.
I know this process seems long and strenuous, but it is worth it. Mindful, thoughtful purchases ensure that I have the closet that works for me. I want to have pieces that bring joy and excitement. Garments that I cannot wait to wear that represent my style and who I am.
Let's not follow what social media tells us but rather follow our hearts. We should wear pieces that speak our language, represent our thoughts even if they do not fit with the latest trends and styles.