Shopping is one of my favorite activities most of the time. The only time it isn’t? When I’m worrying about money or about size. Now money, that’s not something I can always control. Actually I should be shopping less to control all those money worries. But size? Size is something I need to remember not to worry about because size really DOES NOT matter. What actually matters when you’re shopping is the three Fs: fit, feel, and future.
The 3Fs is something I unconsciously came up with when I realized that all clothing is not created equal. Each brand has a slightly different way of constructing their clothes, though they all adhere to general sizing. If you’re anything like me, you have figured out that what may be a size six here may be the same as a size eight in another type of clothing or brand or even a size four at a totally different store. How frustrating! What I decided was to give up the idea of size and focused on fit. Fit is all about how the clothing works on your body. Ignore the number on the label and ask yourself these questions:
* Is it hanging on my body in a way that makes me feel comfortable?
* Is there any tightness or pulling in places where I know I don’t want tightness or pulling?
* Is it the desired length? Not just as prescribed by the brand or magazines but according to what length is comfortable to you. Or can it be tailored to the right length? Do I want to/have time to tailor it to the right length?
* Does it have a classic fit? Meaning, is it a piece that will look good no matter where or when I wear it?
Fit is important but so is how a garment feels. I am a touchy feely shopper. I let my hands brush over the tops and I squeeze the squishy fabrics and knits between my fingers. I think feel is very important when you’re shopping. You want to be comfortable in your clothes and you also want to feel good about your clothes. To feel good about your clothes I think it literally needs to feel good. I also think that how a piece of clothing makes you feel is important too. One of the best pieces of advice I ever received about looking and feeling good in your clothes is that you need to be 100 percent confident before you step out the door. It’s that much more important to try on a piece of clothing and think: does it make me feel confident? Sexy? Happy? Anything you buy should make you feel something powerful and positive.
The final F and probably the most important when it comes to shopping and money is future. Sure, you can go shopping every season for a new wardrobe but who has the money for that? Anything that I buy has to have a future. I’m not saying that I only buy investment pieces; the shop ladies at Forever 21 would say different. But before I consider bringing a new item into my closet I think about it long term. First I question why I’m buying it: special occasion, work clothes, play clothes, because I saw it on someone else and thought it would be cute on me. All of those are valid reasons (to me) for buying something because I either really, really love it or it’s something I actually need like a pair of work pants. If it’s a case of really, really love it then I enforce the “Think About It” rule where I force myself to have some separation and if I can’t stop thinking about it then it’s meant to be. Then I have to think about how I’m going to wear it going forward. I make sure I can think of no less than three separate outfits that incorporate my new piece. The only exception is a fancy dress for a special occasion, though it’s rare that those dresses aren’t spread around for many fancy times to come. Finally I question whether what I want is too trendy to have a future. Some styles are meant for the moment and aren’t going to last forever. Sometimes it’s okay to buy those funky, fun pieces but ninety-nine percent of the time I’m going to go with the piece that will last a lifetime (or at least a couple of years).
Now I’m not a perfect shopper by any means. Sometimes I end up with that plaid crop top that I’ll hopefully wear “some day”. Sometimes I end up with clothes are that are more comfortable than flattering. It does take practice. I’ll tell you though that when I really force myself to judge a piece of clothing and consider fit, feel, and the future then I end up having some truly fantastic pieces in my closet.