A Pre-Shopping Primer (& Podcast)

Gala Darling – iCiNG: A Pre-Shopping Primer (MP3)
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Here’s the transcript…

Hello! This is a pre-shopping primer & an iCiNG original podcast! I’m your host, Gala, & you can get your daily fix of sweetness & life frosting at galadarling.com.

The purpose of this podcast is to mentally prepare you for a shopping trip, whether large or small. As much as I love shopping, sometimes it drives me a little bit crazy. There are so many things to keep in order that we all need a little help sometimes. I’m going to give you some helpful tips & ideas for navigating the shops like a pro.

My first tip is that you should always eat breakfast (or lunch) before you go shopping. It’s just like going food shopping on an empty stomach — you end up spending far more money than you normally would, & because your blood sugar is low & your body needs a fix, you’ll make rash, emotional decisions which never benefit you. If you’ve ever gone shopping on an empty stomach you will probably be nodding your head or smiling wryly as you listen to this! Please believe me! It is a bad scene. My suggestion is to always eat before you start & take something with you if you think you’ll need it. I’m one of those people who snacks constantly, so I carry a little packet of candy with me pretty much everywhere I go.

This might be a contentious point, but for the most part, please, please don’t be tempted to bring your boyfriend (or husband, or both — gulp!) shopping with you! The same goes for children. They will get cranky & bored & you’ll either have to cut your trip short or it won’t be anywhere near as fun as it should be. If you feel like you’re in a bit of a fashion rut, take a fashion-forward friend, but only if they’re into it! There is nothing worse than going shopping with someone who is only thinking about themselves the whole time — you need their advice, goddamnit, & if they’re not going to give it to you, they may as well not be there. The best friends to go shopping with are those with style who are happy to take risks. Try the weird things they thrust at you — you never know, you might love it. Take a chance, kitten!

The third thing you need to know about shopping is that it’s a big task. Even if you’re only in the market for a pair of shoes & a new coat, it could easily take you the better part of a day. Leave yourself ample time to get it all done. Try not to schedule in anything else for the rest of the day — or the evening. Usually, after a day of shopping, all I want to do is put my feet out & chill the hell out!

Another thing to keep in mind is that you will probably be walking long distances while you comb the stores looking for your perfect wardrobe. Wear comfortable shoes! I’m not saying wear sneakers, but make sure you’re wearing something which isn’t going to give you blisters after a block & a half. You should also dress as well as you can — this will give you a little bit of extra confidence when you go into those stores with immaculately-presented sales staff — but make sure it’s something you can slide on & off easily. I usually go shopping in a dress, stockings & boots. Anything else is too much effort after the tenth store.

This tip is one for the obsessively organised. (I admit to being a member of this group.) All year round, make a list of dream items — things that you feel would improve your wardrobe & make it more versatile. The easiest way to do this is to tape a piece of paper to the inside of your closet door & make notes whenever inspiration strikes. Then take that list with you when you go shopping, though make sure everything on it is still relevant!

You should also shop with a plan & a budget wherever possible. What are you in the market for? Some dresses for summer? Warm tops for winter? An outfit for your annual autumn visit to Paris? Obviously your plans will reflect in what you shop for. Make a list. Your list might be simple, like, “Long-sleeved tops for underneath vintage t-shirts, skinny jeans in dark grey & round sunglasses”, or complicated. It doesn’t matter, just write one! & stick to your budget! Seriously! If you LOVE something but can’t afford it then & there, think about smacking down a deposit & having the shop put the item on lay-buy until you have the cash. (This also gives you time to reconsider whether you really want or need the item!) Some people also say you should pay in cash so you have a firmer grip on how much you’re actually spending, but I think that’s a bit tedious. It’s enough for me to just look at the price tag!

Those of you who are longtime iCiNG readers will know that I always advocate spending as much as you possibly can on each item. I know a lot of people maintain that “basics” can be cheap, but the problem with that is that it means you then have to go out & re-buy those items every few months. You’ll actually save money if you buy the good stuff for a kick-off. Always inspect the clothes for flaws or imperfections. How does the stitching look? What about collars — do they look as if they will lose their shape after a run through the wash? Check the tags — is your item dry-clean only, & if so, is that going to put you off ever wearing it?

I also think that shopping at the BEGINNING of the season is the best way to do things. It might seem a bit crazed, but if you leave it too long, all you have to choose from are the unsuccessful styles in bad colours & the wrong sizes. Sale time is the absolute worst time to go shopping, & if you insist on doing it, again, take a list & don’t feel tempted to buy something because it’s only $10 down from $100, or whatever. It was probably passed over by everyone else for a reason!

Also remember — sales assistants are not your friends! They work on commission, keep this in mind at all times! Some of them are lovely, but ultimately, if you buy something, you are going to be the one wearing it, so YOUR opinion of it matter. If you feel the need to seek reassurance from them about whether something looks good on you, it probably doesn’t. However, having said that, don’t be afraid to ask them for help — they know whether this goes with that or what shirt will look best with those pants.

Finally: try not to buy everything from one store — it increases the chances of looking like everyone else on the high street. Only buy things which fit & colours which suit you! & buy your accessories last, so that they go with everything else. Think of accessories as the candles on a glorious cake. You don’t need too many, but the few you buy should totally thrill you.

Go forth & shop!

Love & cupcakes,