Let’s debunk the populist myth women actually enjoy clothes shopping!

Research shows that the concept of clothes shopping being therapeutic is an anathema to 44% of women.

shopping mall

The good news is that if you hate clothes shopping then you are not alone. So why do so many women dread clothes shopping? Body Confidence issues are the main reason.

A lack of body confidence turns what should be a fun experience into a traumatic and stressful nightmare.

  • 80% claim they would enjoy clothes shopping if they were thinner.
  • 37% say they are uncomfortable in changing rooms
  • 42% say clothes shopping would be different if they looked different.

Some women do not like clothes shopping for reasons such as queuing, unfriendly assistants, but these are secondary factors compared with issues around their own body.

Others are not sure what suits them. These women find it difficult to know if the decisions they are making are the right ones.   Shopping for outfits for special occasions is particularly difficult.

So what can you do to put the fun back into clothes shopping? Check out my top tips of course!

Five Top Tips for Clothes Shopping

 1. Know Thy Colours!

One of the most liberating things about having your colours ‘done’ is how much easier it makes clothes shopping.

Being able to focus on the colours that suit you and not being seduced by those that don’t look great makes the selection process easier.

If you are armed with your colour swatch from your colour analysis you will have a handy reference for the shades to look for. Just remember that these are a guide and not an instruction manual. If you don’t find something in the exact shade that is not an issue.

Some seasons in retail just seem to ignore your colour palette in their selection! So if your favourite stores are not stocking the colours that look great on you, what do you do?   You can simply your wings to look at other retailers you may not have considered before for clothes shopping. Alternatively you have a couple of options:

  • Look online – search for items in the colour you want
  • Remember you are looking for the colours in your palette close to your face – so use scarves, often easier to find in many more shades.

Just remember that you can ‘play’ with colour and if you want to wear colours outside of your palette that’s fine, but consider if you have enough items in your wardrobe to make the item work. My rule of thumb is that you should be able to wear an item three ways.

Colour Analysis

2. Dress for your Shape not your Size

The most important styling tip of all is to dress for your shape.

It is really important to understand your body shape. Once you are armed with this powerful tool you can create balance with the way you dress.  Refer to my full body shape guide for details.

I would just like to give you some examples to illustrate this point:

  • If you have wide hips and slender shoulders, you are probably a pear. By adding volume to your top half with interesting necklines or accessories, you will create balance and the emphasis will be taken away from your bottom half.
  • If you have very wide shoulders and slender hips, you are probably an inverted triangle body shape. This silhouette is often seen on women who love to work out. In terms of how to dress the opposite applies. Wear a full skirt and fitted jacket to create balance.
  • You can also use dressing for your shape to show off your best bits! If you are a curvy hourglass figure then flaunt it! Wear a belt to show off that waist and emphasize your glorious curves.

3. Ignore The Size Label

As I mentioned in my blog Does My Bum Look Big in This? this is something I preach and am still learning to practice.   As someone who suffered from anorexia it was a badge of honour that I only wore the smallest sizes.  I know I’m not alone in this and we ‘feel better’ when we’re wearing smaller sizes. But with me it was very extreme.

bodycon dress

I started to get back to a healthy weight and found that I couldn’t always fit in some brands at the smallest size. I would walk away from the clothes rather than buy a larger size – how crazy does that sound?   I would and did to some extent justify it with some items that they were not made for ‘girls who work out’. I had big and muscly calves in the 1990s with all the running and step aerobics that I did.

It is a much better to wear a figure hugging dress in a size that fits rather than the size you think you ought to be. Lumps and bumps in the wrong places in a bodycon dress are not attractive.

Some brands come up larger or smaller than others.    This is largely down to the individual brand’s fit model.   This is the model used to fit the sample garments.   Although the fashion industry is not going to admit it there is also some vanity sizing in some brands.

4. Dress for your Scale

In styling terms scale looks at your height and bone structure.   It is measured by a combined metric of the following:

  • Your shoe size
  • Your height
  • The circumference of your wrist

Depending on the results you fall into one of three categories: small, medium or large scale.

The importance of these measurements is to determine what size prints, fabric weights and size of accessories you should wear. Textures of fabrics also play a part. Corduroy is probably one of the easiest textures to visualize.


Accessories in this context will cover many things.   Apart from the more obvious items such as bags, scarves and jewellery it also covers shoes, glasses, belts and hats.

It’s probably simpler to put this in context:

If you are a petite person, wearing a large bold print pattern in a heavy wool fabric with a monster-sized handbag will just overwhelm you.

If you are a larger person then a small handbag, dainty print and lightweight fabric such as chiffon will simply make you look larger.

5. Do your homework before you go clothes shopping

One of the greatest tools that the Internet has given us is a massive high street from the comfort of our sofas! You can shop 24/7 without the drop!

If you know that you’re after a dress for a special occasion and you want to go out and shop in store, then checking out what is available online is a great place to start.

clothes shopping online

The selection online is likely to be much greater than in store. If you’ve fallen in love with something online, but still want to go into store, then click and collect is offered by many retailers.

Research online allows you to have a sense of what there is available and you can also start to build up a shopping list and hit the stores with a plan of what you’re looking for.

For many women this can be a lot easier than simply arriving in store and being swept up with a bewildering selection of clothes.

If you prefer a more spontaneous approach to clothes shopping that’s fine but I’m guessing you are not likely to be reading this post any way!

clothes shopping window display

Does that help?

Don’t forget that now you are armed with my five top tips for clothes shopping you also need to create the right environment for you to shop. That is not as crazy as it sounds!

While I admit that laying clearing the store of other customers or staffing it with hand picked assistants is beyond most people’s wildest dreams! Except perhaps Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman!

You can choose who to go clothes shopping with (or to fly solo) and where to go.   If possible try to pick a day and time when the shops will be less crowded.

It sounds obvious but do not forget to think about your own outfit to go clothes shopping.

Flat shoes and clothes you can easily take on and off are good. Think too about your own personal security. My shopping habits changed forever after I’d had my handbag stolen in a well-known department store in London.

Still not convinced?

Why not consider help? I offer ideas boards, through to a full day’s shopping experience and a range of services in between. I’m more than happy to discuss what you’re looking for and tailor a package to suit your needs.