outfit post: reader shopping questions

Do you have a favorite source for clothes? Like do you always buy cardigans at Old Navy or work shirts at Banana? 

I don't have a real set method to my shopping for particular items at particular places. I live in a relatively small town so we're limited to pretty generic widespread stores like Banana, Ann Taylor, Loft, Target, Old Navy & TJ Maxx. When I travel to big cities - I try to pop into H&Ms or J.Crews or outlet malls. And thanks to the internet – more and more things are available online. But I like to try things on so I’d say I shop in person a bit more then online.

When I'm putting together the 'similar' affiliate links for the blog I use www.shopstyle.com to search for specific items I want to find that is similar to what I'm wearing. I like the site a lot because you can type in search terms ("sheath dress") and then use the filters (I use price & color a lot - "blue sheath dress under $100") to narrow down the results from a gazillion stores. It's a great way to figure out where to look for a particular item at a particular price point. (My inner computer nerd LOVES an organized database!) 

And recently I've started to use the ShopStyle App on my phone... a lot. I'll look up fun dresses or cool boots when I'm just goofing around on my phone. And extra bonus fun feature - just hit "Sale Alert" button and it will email me when the item I was looking at go on sale! It's fun and helpful and a little dangerous to my bank account.

Anyhoo I use the app a lot. If you want to download it - you can find it here:
(I get a bonus if you download the app from my link.)

How do you decide what to buy?

The way I organize my outfit inspiration photos is to dump them in seasonal Pinterest folders. Basically fall/winter & spring/summer. Any outfit photo that contains colors, shapes, ideas or similar items to those that I already own and is even remotely possible to use for outfit inspiration get saved. Oftentimes I find super cute outfits that I would love to recreate but unfortunately I don't own anything slightly similar. Those pictures get saved in a "shopping ideas" folder.

Over time I will notice trends to the items in the shopping folder - pieces of clothing that I can see being used in a lot of different ways and owning them would add some specific dimension currently missing from my wardrobe. Those items with both multiple pins & multiple uses get added to my short list of things I keep my eye out for when I'm shopping.

When you are shopping how do you decide if you should purchase something?

When I go shopping I have my mental list of items I'm interested in finding. When I come across one of the items, or a cool new find I hadn't considered, I always try them on. I try to be super good about only only purchasing things that I really really love. Things that I get excited about when I try them on. Excited being when you do that little happy dance/twirl/pose in the mirror when you see yourself. Or when you like it even more then what you're wearing at the moment and wish you could change into it for the rest of your shopping day. Excited not being a discussion with yourself welllll mayyyybeee if I lose 5 lbs/stand up straight/try it on at home it might be okay. If you're talking yourself into it for any reason - pass.

When I'm doing a good job at only buying pieces I love, then I don't end up returning very many things. (I haaate returning things. I just don't often have time to go to stores twice in the return period.) But every so often I will realize something doesn't work and I will take it back. But that's a pretty infrequent occurrence. Less then once a year?

As far as factoring price into those happy-dance items - I'll pay a little more for things that I know I'll wear more often (jeans, blouses I really love) and things that should look nicer for big events at work (suits). But as a really rough estimate if something is worth the price - I calculate $1-2 per wear for normal clothes and $5-10 a wear for special occasions. So if I really like a $12 shirt at Target it'd be worth buying if I'd wear it 6-12 times (and if I'm at F21 - will it survive 6-12 washes!)... and likewise I could justify buying a nicer dress for $50 if I'd wear it to 5-10 special events... It's not a hard and fast rule - if I reeeeally love something I might just ignore it - but as an estimate tool, to figure out if something costs too much, it gives me a good starting place to make the decision...

Do you buy lots of clothes to wear for this blog?

I often get asked if I buy clothes in order to post them to the blog. And the answer to that is I definitely do not. I don't buy anything specifically for the blog or any particular post. The great majority of the time I am working with clothes I already own and are already in my closet to put together outfits that end up here. And any new things that I buy are always things that are for my real life – which may get posted to the blog - but never purchased just for the blog.


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