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  • Alexa McCarthy

5 Tips from an Expert Shopper

If you work in any industry for an extended period of time, you're going to learn a thing or two. Here are a few I've picked up from working in fashion retail:


1. Be a Trier

You know your size. You've been a steady medium since you hit your twenties. You KNOW that top isn't going to fit. Trust me, you never know. Different companies have different ideas of what constitutes a size small. In our store, we have lines whose smalls fit like mediums and others whose larges fits like smalls. As well, some clothes are meant to fit over-sized. And finally, you never know how anything is going to fall on you. You might like that it's snug, or maybe that sweater will be your bumming-around-the-house-sweater. Unless you know with absolute certainty that something will not fit, give it a try.


2. Take It with You

You bought the most amazing pants EVER. You just need a stellar shirt to go with. You walk into a store and try to explain that the pants are kind of this tan colour—no, not that colour tan, a little darker—with little purple flowers—bigger than that—and this greyish/blue cuff...let me stop you there. Go get the pants. Please, please, please, just bring them in. We'll try to be helpful, but some people have different ideas about what colour tan is exactly. And without holding something up to the item of clothing in question, you're probably not going to feel 100% confident in what you choose. So just bring it in.


3. Find Something You Think Is TRULY Hideous, and Try It On

This is one of my favourite ways to find new styles for myself. There are all sorts of poor clothes that look awful on the hanger. No hanger appeal. Sad, but true. And then there are others that just look like something your grandmother would wear, and even though retro is totally in, you don't love your grandmother's style. Try it. You NEVER know. 90% of the time, it will still be hideous on, and you can laugh at how ridiculous you look. But that one out of 10 times, you discover hidden gems that you could have missed. Even though it looks old and fuddy duddy, or way too young for you, it's often the person who wears it that determines the real style of a piece of clothing.


Just. Try. It. On.

4. Ask for Help

This applies to a lot of things. Other sizes, different colours... the people who work in the store generally know their merchandise inside and out, so if you're looking for something specific, they can help. Your size might be in the window display, and the other colour might be hidden behind—heaven forbid—something of the same colour (a real no-no in my books).

Ask for ideas. People who work in fashion also usually have an eye for putting outfits together. If that's not your forte, they should be more than happy to discuss how you could wear something or get the most use out of it with just a few tweaks. Add a blazer! Put on chunky necklace! Roll up the cuffs!


5. Trust Your Gut

Some (not all but some) salespeople will do anything to make a sale. I once bought a pair of size 27 jeans (when I was really a 28/29) because the salesgirl convinced me I could fit into them. I could, which was nice for my vanity, but they were so tight that I ended wearing them only once or twice. What a waste. Don't let anyone talk you into something if you aren't sure. It's usually pretty easy to tell a pushy salesperson, though there are actually really annoying people who look good in everything. But a good salesperson should, in my opinion, be honest. That being said, even if they tell you it looks terrible, if you like it that's all that matters. If you can't stop thinking about it, buy it. If you're only so-so about it, don't bother, it'll most likely just gather dust in your closet.


It's easy to get stuck in a fashion rut, filling your closet with the same outfit over and over, or thinking you never have anything to wear because none of your clothes go together. But keep these tips in mind the next time you're doing some retail therapy and you might surprise yourself, and your wardrobe.

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