‘How Do You Shop?’

posted in: Fashion 6
Fashion plates from the 1880s. Image: Wikipedia.


My friend Soph asked me awhile back how I shop for clothes.

I really liked the question because I like my clothes and hadn’t ever really been asked about how I pull everything together. I told Soph that I get my clothes mostly at designer discount outlets like Nordstrom Rack (my sister Rebecca is with me on this), or I buy things at fancy department stores when they’re 70 percent off.

But beyond the “where,” I thought about the “what.” What do I wear? What don’t I wear? Thinking it through, I realized I have a firm set of rules in mind when I’m purchasing clothing. Sometimes, gals like to swap this sort of information, so here we are.

After roughly 25 years of dressing myself, there’s stuff I wear and stuff I do not, full stop. I might be at a killer sale rack and see a dress that’s just my size, but if it features one of my “no’s,” I bounce. Who needs a closet full of clothing that only slightly works? Worse than that: Who wants to have a closet full of clothing you don’t actually like?

And I’m happy to say that at this stage in life, I know what does and does not work on my body. This saves a lot of time when I’m out amongst the racks, believe me. Note: Please do not take my “doesn’t work” list to mean the items are bad; they might be perfect for you, just as what clothing works for me might be disastrous on you. Oh, fashion! You fickle so-and-so.

Here’s what doesn’t work on me/for me/anywhere near me: 

Chinese collars
Anything that gives me cleavage
Drop-waist dresses
Cap sleeve anything
Sleeveless shirts/dresses (with rare exceptions)
Ninety-percent of denim clothing (this includes jeans)

Here’s what does work:

Tailored pants
White dress shirts
Gold hoops
Pumps (black, usually, but I make my forays)
Black cardigan
A red accent somewhere (often this is my lipstick)
A great coat

To be honest with you, I kind of like the girl who wears all the things on my “no” list. I mean, chiffon and t-shirts?? Sounds fabulous! But for me, the simple thing is best, the well-made pants and the “crisp white shirt,” as Sophie put it — that’s the way for me. And I feel good.

How about you?

6 Responses

  1. Kerry
    | Reply

    As natural fabric as I possibly can. Anything with a smidgeon of man made fibre gives me so much static that I look like the Pink Panther coming out of the tumble dryer. Then I get the complaints when I zap my family when I kiss or hug them.

    We walk a lot so mainly cotton trousers, cotton t-shirts, men’s shirts (cover the bottom and I can tie the arms round my “waist” when I get hot), cotton skirts, woollen jumpers. Sometimes viscose – it’s wood so that’s OK. Walking boots, sandals, trainers and love nice long boots – although wellies are a last resort. Shoes are difficult – I have wide feet and long smaller double jointed toes so it’s a case of that’ll do nicely when I find them and I make them last. Usually wander round in bare feet at home or socks if it’s a bit nippy.

  2. Mary Spriet
    | Reply

    I think a lot of it depends on your lifestyle. I too like more tailored clothing. Lace, bows, sheers, etc… are not in my closet. However, I gotta have my t-shirts & sweatshirts. I’m a longarmer and we live on 5 acres. So basically when I’m working it’s sweatshirts & yoga pants. Outside working it’s jeans & T-shirts with a sweater or flannels. That’s basically my work wardrobe. Then we have a casual set of clothing, and a dressy set. I wish I could basic settle for one set to dress up or down, but that’s not very practical. Being a quilter has made me very aware of fiber content. I love cotton, of course. Poly…..not so much. I’m also Irish & a knitter, so we have to throw in the wool too. Natural fibers are always the best.

  3. Kate
    | Reply

    As someone who lives with snow for five months of the year, a pair of perfectly fitting tall black boots is an essential. I can wear them with a skirt, or a pair of s Lim legged pants, any time I need to look professional in the winter. For the most part it saves me from having to carry a pair of shoes, and the leather of the boots is waterproof.

  4. Barbara
    | Reply

    I wear things I’m comfortable in. If I’m trying something on, I’ll know right away if it’s right for me, if I like it, and if not, I don’t waste my time getting the whole thing on. As for color I don’t even handle a piece of clothing if I don’t like the color. I also only like to wear things that are soft, nothing rough, stiff or so on. Same with handbags.

  5. Elizabeth R
    | Reply

    I’m okay with tasteful bows, but ruffles are a definite no-go for me. They just make me feel silly. I also have a strong aversion to “cold-shoulder” tops/dresses/anythings, and the puffy, gathered sleeves that seem to be so trendy right now are just … nope.

  6. Colleen
    | Reply

    Hmm I am old live in the San Francisco Bay Area where we have a pretty mild climate compared to Chicago so my wardrobe is very different from a cute young woman who works. I like 100% cotton for all my clothes mostly pants and tops. Really I bought a dress of rayon just for a funeral and it’s just hanging around in case I have to wear a dress sometime. I remember a writer quoting Cher before she was on TV she said she didn’t even own a dress at that time I loved dresses people do change.
    Every picture I’ve seen of you I have to say your clothes must have been perfect because honestly I don’t remember what you were wearing just your lovely face.

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