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July 18, 2013 at 8:00 AMComments: 1 Faves: 0

Speed-Demon Shopper: Your Guide to Hitting the Racks in Under an Hour

By Rachael Steil More Blogs by This Author

The moment had arrived at last. It was as if a switch had flipped on in my brain as I felt the deepest side of my clothes-hungry being awaken and prod me: Time to shop, Rachael!

That spur-of-the-moment compulsion comes randomly, suddenly, and must be satisfied immediately. It is especially critical to react the moment I feel it, because if I don't have the desire to shop, I can't get myself to try on, let alone buy, anything. And when I see my wardrobe droop into a depression and my old clothes hang limply on the hangers, I know it's time to spruce up my look. It was as if the stars had aligned as I felt the excitement to shop course through me; I would bow down to the shopping gods and relinquish my body to their command: Must. Get. New. Clothes. NOW.

It's sad that with the last name "Steil" (pronounced "style"), I am not a shopaholic by any means. I love new clothes, but shopping for them? The inspiration and desire only comes once or twice a year and lasts for no more than an hour. Like an animal released back into the wild with my fellow shopping fanatics, I had to go on the hunt once again.

Luckily, my mom was all for it as she redirected our drive home the moment those blessed words ("Mom, can we go shopping?") came out of my mouth.

"How about Marshall's?" she asked as we pulled into the store parking lot. Didn't look like I had much of a choice, did I?

Lucky for me, I have the speed-demon shopping tactics down pat. I can get through a store in an hour and still come out without busting my wallet and carrying a bag or two of ill-fitted, unfashionable clothes. Even you consistent shoppers can follow my best tactics for those speed-demon shopping days where you need to limit your shopping to an hour or less while keeping things under control and in style.

Preparation

Speed, Time, and Confidence

My mom knew what we were in for. She is probably the best shopping partner I could have, because she knows how I tick. This is no mere shopping spree; it is a chase for the newest, freshest look in under an hour. To take on this feat takes skill and precision, with a little dose of experimentation.

While other speed-demon shoppers advise making a list of what you need, bringing a tape measure, and memorizing brands and their sizes for what works best for you, these tactics are nothing compared to actually trying on the outfit while you are at the store. Honestly, I don't see how those tips qualify as "speed" shopping when it takes an extra hour at home to prepare for the occasion. All you need is a boost of energy (coffee maybe?), a time limit, and split decision-making as you prowl through the savannah of clothes. Be prepared to think quickly, and be confident with your inner style voice.

A word of caution: Don't prepare yourself to scramble like a maniac throughout the store. Speed is important for your time limit, but a harsh, quick-thinking critic is the key to achieving this delicate form of shopping art.

Meat and Potatoes

One important step to take before you leave for the mall is to review your closet and decide what you need. Do you have mostly flashy, sparkly, showy clothes? Or more neutral colors? You want the proportion to be more neutrals to flashy, as it is easier to mix and match (which, of course, makes getting ready in the morning that much easier!). As Michael Kors in Times Online stated, "70 percent of the clothes you own should be meat and potatoes. 30 percent should be icing and fluff — that’s colour, pattern, shine, accessories. Too many women get the proportions the other way round, then can’t figure out why they can’t get dressed."

Seemingly "boring" tops and pants that come in neutral colors can actually be a great way mix and match, thus setting you up for more outfit possibilities during your half- or one-year hiatus from shopping. So don't say "no" to neutrals!

Collection of Colors

Take the time to look for which color is the most abundant in your wardrobe. If you find that you have too many blues (as is often the case with me), it may be time to find another color that suits you well. Since I know that yellow is another great color on me, I try to focus on getting more yellow outfits in order to balance out my closet. Even if I do like a blue shirt that I come upon at the store, if I know I have too much blue at home, I move on to the next outfit or buy the new blue and promise to donate a blue top from home.

At the Store

My fashionista sister has a great sense of style and lives to shop. While she can stand for two hours deciding between two outfits, I dash to the racks of clothes and zip through each article of clothing. I call it my "one-second-rule" when I glance at each shirt and make the decision in a moment. No spark at all? Scrap it. A little spark? The two-second rule steps in. Maybe...(one second)...Yes! or Nah... (two seconds).

In those moments, my mind assesses whether I would be willing to experiment with the colors, the design, the cut, or the style of a particular shirt. You don't have to know for sure if that outfit will fit or look good on you, but that's why we are provided with fitting rooms. (Which, believe it or not, aren't just for fitting!) Most outfits that may look bland on the hanger find their moment in the spotlight on your body. Be the model they have been waiting for! Often, the shirts we push away actually have the potential to look great once we fit them over our heads.

Of course, you can't add every article of clothing to the cart, so this instinct and urge to try on an outfit takes time to understand and get used to. Have patience my fellow soon-to-be-speed-demon shoppers; the voice will be easier to distinguish and follow with clarity and certainty when you practice.

In the Changing Room

If it takes me too long to decide as I look in the mirror, I know it's not the outfit for me. I usually double-check with my mom (it helps to bring company along!), but I know that instinct is the biggest predictor of what works and what doesn't.

Make sure to walk, sit, and stretch in the clothes you try on to make sure they feel comfortable and aren't too tight. I have wider shoulders than many other women, so I make sure to hug myself to make sure the shoulders aren't restricting any movement up there.

The Final Decision

Only buy clothes that fit well and look great. Don't be swayed by the good deals. Even if that shirt is 50% off, if it doesn't look good or fit well, then it's not worth the purchase. Sure, you may only be paying ten dollars for it, but if it's ten dollars for an outfit you will never wear, just know that it's ten dollars extra you could have spent on a better-looking, perhaps more expensive outfit that you would actually have worn.

Be a strong clothes critic! Sometimes that requires being harsh, but your wallet depends on it. It will help the decision-making process.

The Finish

"How about a new pair of shoes?"

"Can't."

This is the only word I can mutter as we make our way to the counter to pay for my new stack of clothes. It is clear that my hour is up and the speed-demon-diva within me is crawling back into the cave for hibernation. I'm ready to go home and settle for a year of mixing and matching the neutrals, flaunting the showy outfits once in a while, and perhaps finding a new top or pair of shoes here and there if an inkling of want hits me again.

But for now, I know I've got what I need. With a satisfied smile, I leave the store with my mom, having made yet another successful trip to the store with a stash of stylish, comfortable, and well-fitted clothes to prove it.

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1 Comment

  • love the story - shopping can be a pain that's for sure. I sometimes will buy that "top" just because I think I like it and can't live without it, then once I get it home I have nothing to wear with it! Or it looked better in the store on the hanger than on my body!

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