This article originally appeared in LDS Teen Magazine, April 2016.
I believe personal style is an essential component to the expression of your identity. Being intentional about the kind of clothing you buy helps you understand and define yourself, and is an important step towards being calm, collected, and confident. And once you fully own your identity you will have the confidence to feel like you’re totally rocking it, every day.
But where do you start? How do you decide which clothes to bring home, and which to leave at the store?
Tell me if any of this sounds familiar…
I have six pairs of jeans but wear the same pair all the time. I agonize in the dressing room over the clothing I try on, and am critical of how I look in that terrible florescent dressing room lighting. I regret spending money on a random purchase that I never end up using or wearing. Those super expensive shoes I was dying to have? I only wore them once. I often feel like I never have anything to wear, but my closet is full of clothes.
“Shopping” is much more than just entertainment. It’s about finding and tastefully displaying beauty! It’s about choosing how you will define yourself! We all need to buy and wear clothes…so why go through the process haphazardly, randomly, unintentionally, and wind up with more stuff you don’t truly love and a whole wardrobe of options that make you feel….meh?!
If any of that sounds familiar, I have a proposal for you. I have developed a foolproof method for determining whether or not you should buy something.
I call this method my “Five Commandments of Successful Shopping”. It’s been nearly six years since I formulated them, and I still let them guide all of my shopping decisions. Follow these rules, and you will be able to recognize excellent fit, design, and fabric quality, leading to a prudent, strategic purchase and a step in the direction towards more intentional self-confidence.
So, let’s jump in!
#1 Is it flattering?
The first question you should absolutely ask yourself is whether or not this piece of clothing showcases the very best and most beautiful aspects of you. We all know that shopping can be challenging, because we are all shaped differently, and nothing fits everyone in quite the same way. But do not let this piece of clothing out of the store and into your wardrobe unless it makes you feel confident, lovely, and more like the gal you want to be! Why end up with a closet full of clothes that are anything less than that?
#2 What will happen to this fabric?
Ok, you love how you look in it! Excellent! Next, consider how this fabric will hold up. You don’t need to be any kind of expert. Just consider a few general things:
Will this material attract every speck of lint, dust, and hair in the house? For example: Some wool coats (you know the ones I’m talking about) are impossible to keep clean. Especially for those of you with long, lush hair or cute furry animals. Better to walk away.
Is the fabric wrinkled? If it hasn’t even left the store yet and it is already wrinkled? Back away slowly.
Is it scratchy? Is it shedding? Is it sheer?
Are the care instructions beyond your capacity to reasonably handle? If you are the kind of girl who buys dry clean only dresses and then tosses them in the washing machine (oops. I’ve done that a few times) …if so, walk away. There are plenty of other options that can handle your tough love. 😉
#3 Will this style hold up for a few years?
By no means are we saying that everything in your wardrobe MUST be timeless (take a look at our store and you’ll see how much we love cool, interesting clothes)…but do consider whether this item is something that will survive the trends for at least the next two years. Will it make the cut?
#4 Is it worth the price tag?
Look at that item as an investment (and no, by that I don’t mean use the words ‘an investment!’ as an excuse to buy super expensive things). I mean, based on how much it costs and how often you will wear it, is it worth it? Will you get your money’s worth? Hence the generally accepted idea that it is ok to spend a little more money on things you will wear all the time. It’s all about the return on investment!
# 5 Do I LOVE it?
The last is the hardest criteria. This one always gets me, and rightfully so. If I can’t look at myself in the dressing room mirror, smile, stick my head out and shout at the fitting room attendant down the hall … “I LOVE THIS!” then I don’t buy it. Why? Well, I’ll bet you only wear about 30% of your wardrobe. Maybe less! So why bother bringing home something you don’t absolutely love?! Or worse yet, something you are already considering returning? No, no. You, my friend, are a strategically trained shopper now. And you know the better way.
These rules have not only helped make my shopping trips more successful, they have also been a great excuse to walk away from things that I wasn’t sure about. In a world where we are presented with unlimited options it helps to have a little guidance. In shopping, as in love, you should only commit to things that make you act your very best, look your very best, feel your very best, and that will last.
Rebecca Palmer is the Founder & Editor in Chief of Arlais Palmer – the first eDepartment store for fashion-forward, modest clothing.