4 Things You Should Know Before Buying New Clothes

Take Charge on 12.13.12
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Photo: Christian Guthier/Creative Commons

According to the Mayan calendar, a new era is upon us. Even the plain old Gregorian model agrees that change is coming (at least from 2012 to 2013.) Also, there’s a good chance you’re about to come into some cash, gift cards, or bad gifts that can be exchanged for one of the two. Any way you slice it, now is a great time to conquer your closet and start rebuilding a wardrobe that makes you feel fantastic. Of course, that means facing your fears of malls, dressing rooms and vanity sizing.

Shopping for yourself can be just as fun as picking up presents for others. Really. You just have to know what you’re looking for before you even think about stepping one foot into a store.

1. Know Your Colors

know your colors
Photo: Claire S./Creative Commons

Whether you pay a professional to analyze your skin tones or just ask your best friend to offer free advice, it’s helpful to know what colors look good on you. The right colors brighten your skin, eyes and hair and make you look less tired and more youthful. The wrong colors look beautiful on the plastic mannequin, OK in the dressing room and oddly horrible at home.

Having a color scheme in mind for your closet also saves you time when shopping. No more poking through each and every item on the clearance rack; do a visual sweep and hone in only when spotting the right hue for you. (This one trick has saved me hours in thrift stores, as well as hundreds of dollars because I can actually find something I want in thrift stores.)

2. Know Your Body Type (and How to Dress It)

know your body type
Photo: bradhoc/Creative Commons

I was in my thirties when I learned that I was not an hourglass, but rather a pear. It was a bit traumatic to realize that I had more in common with fruit than Marilyn Monroe and that I was woefully unaware of what I actually looked like. Trauma aside, however, that knowledge bomb has since helped me to dress for the body I actually have instead of the one I think I have (or want.) I’ve learned that I need to accentuate my top half to balance out my bottom, which means structured jackets, v-necks and scarves.

Do you know what your body type is? If you don’t know your measurements, chances are you don’t have an accurate picture of your overall body shape. Whip out the tape and a piece of paper and use this guide to verify your silhouette.

3. Know Your Wow Areas

know your wow areas
Photo: Philip Dean/Creative Commons

Knowing your body type is the first step to identifying your hot spots and your, well, spots we’d rather not call as much attention to. Every body is different and there will be variety even among the same body shapes. Take some time to figure out what areas you want to highlight, and then learn how to do just that. Personally, I have a megawatt smile and fabulously curly hair. As a result, I make all my shopping choices based on what will draw attention way up; I know my money is well spent on scarves and jewelry.

At the same time, you might find it helpful to figure out how to use the power of illusion in regards to your least favorite attributes. I have really short legs, so I no longer spend a lot of money on attention-grabbing shoes. Instead, I buy pants and shoes in the same dark colors – and I’m on the hunt for a pair of nude pumps and sandals for the spring and summer – because creating a solid block of color makes my legs look longer.

Here’s the thing: no one is aesthetically all bad. You’re just not. So suck in your self esteem issues and spend a little time looking in the mirror for what makes you beautiful. Do you have great legs? A beautiful neck? Cleavage to be proud of? Find just one thing that you adore about the way you look, then spend your time and your money playing to that fabulous feature.

4. Know Your Closet

know your closet
Photo: Harika Reddy/Creative Commons

You can’t shop if you don’t know what you have and what you need. (Well, you can, but you’ll find yourself just as frustrated the next morning, only with less money.) Take the time to clean out your closet, think about your lifestyle, and figure out what – if anything – your wardrobe is missing.

It’s not uncommon to get into a shopping rut, or to focus on something that is easy to buy. That’s how I ended up with 15 long tanks, 10 scarves in various colors and exactly 2 pairs of pants. Organizing your closet before you hit the mall allows you to wisely invest in creating a solid wardrobe instead of just splurging on throwaway pieces. And haven’t you always dreamed of being a woman with a wardrobe?

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