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We’ve all done it: gone shopping unprepared and thus bought the wrong things that we then had to return (if the store even accepts returns … so many only give store credit these days). So how can we be better prepared? We have five tips to help you start shopping the RIGHT way!

The Best 5 Shopping Tips

SB’s Top 5 Shopping Tips

Keep a list.

Keep a list of your favorite items in your closet, the ones you always wear. And keep a list of the things you are on the lookout for. This way, you won’t forget that “a pair of fabulous flats that work with jeans and a dress” is on your list and thus be easily distracted by yet another pair of booties just because they are on sale. And, if you have a list of your five to seven favorite items, you’ll know if what you’re buying works well with your go-to pieces. If it does, you’re likely to actually wear said piece quite a bit, and that’s what we all want.

If you are super organized, you can even keep some photos of your favorite items or items you’d like to help you find something similar. But very few of us are actually that organized, even though we may long to be.

Have a hairbrush, lip gloss and a powder compact.

We’ve all gone shopping without a shower, looking so bad that we don’t want to run into anyone. Or we’ve been shopping all day and look worn out. But it’s hard to judge the clothes when we just keep thinking about how bad we look. Make sure to keep a hairbrush and lip gloss handy. It may be just what is needed to make that shirt look its best or stop us from saying “I think this color just needs some lipstick to look good.” Take all your hurdles out of the way so you don’t regret that purchase.

And the powder compact? Yes, for your shiny nose, but it’s also so that you can always check out your rear view. Don’t ever buy anything without checking how your backside looks!

Don’t wear a sports bra, but do wear a tank top. And bring your Spanx.

Sports bras hardly ever work with that dress or blouse you’re trying on. Wear your best fitting bra—or, if you have a convertible bra, wear it while shopping to take the guesswork out of how it will work with a dress. You don’t want to realize the night of an event, or on a workday morning, that your bra doesn’t work with your new purchase. If you need a new bra because the dress is fabulous but needs a different bra, better to know that when you are buying the dress and can immediately find the bra you’ll need.

And the tank top? You can often just try that sweater or blouse on over your tank top if the dressing rooms are full. Yes, wearing the tank top can save you time in such situations.

Oh, and if you prefer to wear Spanx with dresses, bring a pair in your handbag to use when you try on dresses. Don’t guess if the dress will fit; you need to know before you purchase it.

Beware of the sale!

We love sales. Who doesn’t?! But the problem is that we all get “sale brain.” You know that, right? Sale brain is when you consider buying something that you never would normally consider, just because it’s on sale. Now, that’s fine if the price tag is what normally kept you at bay. But if it’s a color you don’t normally wear or a style that isn’t quite you, or maybe you think it will fit you when you lose that 10 pounds … just say no. A sale item that you’ll never wear—or only wear once—is never worth it. That’s not saving money, it’s wasteful. As a rule of thumb, if you wouldn’t long for it at full price, don’t buy it on sale. That goes for Target purchases, too.

Snap a photo of yourself.

There is something about snapping a photo of yourself in the dressing room mirror that allows you to really see what the item or outfit truly looks like. It’s very hard to “see” ourselves and what we’re trying on when we look in the mirror. We tend to look at our flaws or what we like, but we miss if the item is enhancing our shape. The solution? Snap a photo. Looking at that photo really allows you to see the item without all the hangups we see in a mirror. Consider how you can immediately tell when your friend’s outfit doesn’t work but have trouble judging your own. The photo allows you to judge yourself better. Just delete those photos when you are done, as they can be embarrassing!

These are just a few of our tricks, the ones we think make the biggest impact. Have fun shopping, and before you know it, you’ll have a closet filled with only things you LOVE!

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