Ask The Cheaping Girls - Part 4

Photo courtesy of Veer. A really groovy place to get stock photos, fonts, desktop wallpaper, etc.

Dear Cheaping Girls,

What does one do when shopping causes anxiety? Every time I go into a store, I feel like there is too much to buy, too little time, not enough money and how come I can't find the good deals like you can? Any simple suggestions to ease my anxious mind and still make me feel as fabulous as you do?

Please advise whenever!

-- Christina 'Shopaphobic' S.

The good news to come out of the fashion world lately is that you can make your personal style all your own -- following trends is optional. The bad news is that means that the amount of choices out there can be totally overwhelming. These tips are designed to help you narrow down all of those choices and most importantly, to make shopping fun!

Part 4 - Our Approach to Shopping

For this post, I thought I'd try to document our approach to shopping. This was more difficult than I thought, because, well, shopping is pretty much what we DO. It is our hobby and our sport and our entertainment and our therapy. Which is why we need to find good deals, or we would be in serious financial trouble...oh wait, we already are...but I digress...

1. Bring a friend with you.
It's really not that much fun to shop alone, but finding a shopping buddy can be tricky. The three of us get on really well, but then again, we do share the same DNA.

First, look for a buddy that is HONEST. And I mean dead honest. One time we were at Forever 21 and I tried on what I thought was a super-cute little black dress, and when I came out of the dressing room Janaan said "Hmmm. I don't know. Are you TRYING to look like a school teacher??" (No offense to school teachers, but you know what I mean...). If this person isn't going to tell you that your butt looks bad in those jeans, they aren't a good shopping buddy.

Your shopping buddy should have the same kind of energy and stamina as you. Don't go shopping with someone who hates to shop or who has a completely different style than you do. Otherwise you'll spend the whole excursion worried about if your friend is having fun or is bored or tired or whatever.
Whenever we are feeling blue about work, my friend Amy and I LOVE to take a lunch time run to Forever 21. We tear through the store, picking up as many things as we have time to try on, we tear through the fitting rooms like the Tasmanian Devil, make our purchases and pick up salads at Boudin Bakery to eat at our desks. And we do all of this in roughly an hour. It's great because we have this drill totally down and neither of us are wishing that we were out drowning our sorrows in a three martini lunch - the whole point is to get some good old retail therapy.

The other great thing about having a shopping buddy, and preferably one that you shop with all of the time, is that they can be your spotter. Many pairs of eyes are better than one, especially when you are at discount stores, where racks can be ca-razy.

2. Have a goal...or don't...
Sometimes it helps to have a specific goal for your shopping. A purpose, if you will. You might need a white button down shirt, for example. And the whole point of going shopping is just to find that white shirt. That gives you some focus and can narrow down the locations that you need to visit. Personally, I find this type of shopping VERY frustrating. Because if you don't find that perfect white button down shirt, well, it just makes you sad. My friend Lindsay did a fabulous case study on shopping specifically for designer jeans.

Most of the time when we shop, we don't really have a goal. We know IN GENERAL the types of things that we need. For example, right now I am looking for tight skinny jeans, tall boots, preppy sweaters, red lipstick and a pair of super high heels in a chocolate brown. That means I'm constantly on the look-out wherever I go. So I have a certain amount of focus, but still have the satisfaction of being able to find SOMETHING from my list when I am out and about.

3. A.B.S. Always. Be. Shopping.
I'm pretty much always shopping. I look around everywhere I go. Every gas station, museum store, airport kiosk, street vendor, etc. You never know what you're going to find and where. For example, Mom's favorite lipstick can be found at a tiny general store in Kamas, UT. Who knew?

We also love a pop-in. If you see a new store and you have a few minutes, why not pop-in? You might walk in the door, take a look around, and walk right back out, as we did a couple of weeks ago at a new furniture store here in Salt Lake. Don't be afraid to walk in and walk right back out. But we've made some great discoveries after just shrugging our shoulders and saying to ourselves 'hey - why not just pop in for a moment?'
Always having your eye open and popping-in to lots of places creates a catalog in your mind. It helps you get to know what is out there and where to find it. Then when you DO need to find that white button down shirt you know that Brooks Brothers, Nordstrom, The Gap, J-Crew, and Banana Republic are great places to start. See, it's like a big shopping circle of life.
4. Be Good To Yourself
This might sound obvious, but be good to yourself when you shop. Make sure you stay well fed and well hydrated. Wear shoes that you can stand to walk around in all day. Don't bother going into stores that you know you hate. For example, I hate Victoria's Secret. Not only do they not really carry many styles of bra in my size (read: tiny), you can't ever seem to find anyone to help you and it's generally too hot and a total madhouse. Every time I go in there I just get frustrated. So I've just decided to stop going in there at all. There. Now I feel better.
This might sound obvious too, but know where your nearest bathroom is. One of my very favorite places to shop is The Haight neighborhood in San Francisco. Between all of the smoke shops and Grateful Dead memorabilia are some of the best boutiques and vintage clothing stores in the city. The biggest issue is - no bathrooms anywhere. This is a problem when you arrive at 10:00 AM and expect a full day. So, when we go to Haight Ashbury we make sure to stop for lunch at the fabulous Magnolia Pub and Brewery....and then we stop in later in the afternoon for a beer. Two birds with one stone, as I see it (see below for more on this).

Stop shopping when you're tired. I think this is sort of like a Pavlov's dogs thing. If you leave your shopping excursion on a high, you'll have a great reaction to the thought of going shopping again.
Finally, STOP and have a cocktail at around 6:00. One of my favorite memories is having a Bellini with my friend Estelle on the outdoor patio at Ducca in San Francisco. We had been shopping since about 10:00 that morning and it was such a great feeling to sit down, feel the sunshine on our backs, put our feet up, have a happy bubbly drink, and, most importantly to look through all of the bags that surrounded us and relive all of the great finds of the day.
Aaahhhhh yes, shopping bliss.


Miss T said...

Hi Girls,
Whenever you can make it down to LA, you must stop at the Forever21 mecca store in Pasadena, where it puts ALL the other Forever21 stores to shame. I've heard that SF is huge too, which I will hit up on my next trip out there. Saks was fomerly located here and the clothes are separated by designer & fashion style (think Chloe, MJ, Galliano, Gucci, etc) and the selection is amazing! You'll get the luxe shopping feeling at cheapinggirls prices. Check out this youtube video O found to get a quick glimpse of the bottom floor of this 2 story experience.