I love browsing carefully curated boutiques with a small selection of beautiful clothes. There is a sense of calm and order. Each piece has been considered before earning its place on the rack. Shopping is a pleasure.
There is no such ambience when I walk into a large chain or department store. Instead, I often feel overwhelmed. That I am trying to find needles in haystacks. The sheer amount of clothes is confusing and it even makes me a little sad. It’s hard not to think of landfill when there is just so. much. stuff. There are times when I would prefer to run away than shop. And I like to shop.
Of course, I buy things in large chains like Uniqlo and H&M or department stores like Myer or Target. They are often the best places to buy basics. There are times when I need a broader range (and lower prices) than offered by a local boutique.
How do you navigate the large shops without feeling overwhelmed? Or walking out with everything other than the garments you actually needed?
Here’s how …
Know the game
Grocery stores place the milk and bread in the back so that you have to pass all the other temptations while grabbing your basics. Large clothing stores employ the same tactic. Ever noticed that jeans shops place their jeans right on the back wall? Handbag stores stock the utilitarian black and nude bags towards the rear of the shop and shoe shops do the same with nude and black court shoes. The aim is to tempt you with the sparkly things that you don’t necessarily need on your way to things you do.
One way to avoid those temptations is being crystal clear about what you need. Audit your wardrobe regularly and have a list of the things that fill gaps. Literally – a list on your phone. Return to that list often and don’t buy outside it unless you are utterly and completely in love.
Sales racks are a tried and true tactic to lure us into stores. I love a bargain as much as the next girl but these days the reduced item has to fill a gap in my wardrobe before I consider it wise buying. Ask yourself: would I consider buying this if it were full price? If the answer is no, put it back on the rack. If you’re not sure, carry the item around with you as you are looking at other things in store. Give it some time and space. You will soon figure out if you are impressed with the actual garment or just your bargain hunting abilities.
Reduce your choices
Even though we love the idea of choice, too much can paralyse us. Our brains work best when choosing between limited options. Too many and we start to get anxious. As a vegetarian, I am quite happy with two or three choices on most menus. Give me six or seven options and I’m taking most of the night just to decide.
So all of this is really about reducing choices down to what actually works within our own style and existing wardrobes. And this about you making that choice, not the layout of the store, the music being played, the scents being utilised or the way items have been grouped together. Choice reduction takes a little pre-emptive work and focus, but it’s worth it in the end.