You bring in only one size
iStock/g-stockstudioEven if you’re convinced you’re one size, bring a size up and a size down with you to the dressing room. “Take the size you think you are, the size you wish you were, and the size you might be,” says Lauren Rothman, fashion stylist and author of Style Bible: What to Wear to Work. Different brands fit differently, so the best fit might surprise you. Don’t get discouraged if you do end up in that larger size. As long as you look good and feel good, the number on the tag doesn’t matter, says Rothman.
You rely on the fluorescent lights
iStock/gilaxiaDressing rooms are often windowless spaces with fluorescent light—not the best for getting a true sense of how your outfit looks. “Look for close to daylight imitation rather than fluorescent light,” says Dina Scherer, wardrobe stylist and owner of Modnitsa Styling. “You’ll see the garment differently.” Pop out to the store’s main floor to get a better look at the outfit’s color, she suggests. If the store itself doesn't have good lighting, make sure the store has a decent return policy in case the color looks off when you get home. Find out what your outfit color says about you.
You bring all your friends along
iStock/monkeybusinessimagesSecond opinions can be great, but they don’t necessarily reflect your own style. Shopping partners might convince you to buy a top you’d never wear, or steer you away from a piece you love. “When you have all these different opinions and people trying to chime in, it muds up your own opinion, even if you trust those people,” says Scherer. Head out solo and trust your gut to make sure you’re happy with your buys.
You’re wearing workout clothes for comfort
iStock/Yuri_ArcursDuring a serious shopping trip, you might want to stay comfy in a sports bra and sweats. But beware—those items will clash against nicer clothes you’re shopping for. “It’s not going to look great with a sports bra or workout top,” says Rothman. “I guarantee you will feel a lot better if you put on a top that’s coordinating also.” If you aren’t dressed right, pull off a matching top from the rack, she says. She recommends picking a garment that’s the same color to create a sleek monochromatic line.
You aren’t wearing the right underwear
iStock/Bosca78Keep your undergarments in mind too when you’re getting dressed to go shopping. An ill-fitting bra can make a top fit funny, and the wrong panties could distract from a dress’s fit. “If you’re wearing grandma underwear underneath and you would normally wear a thong, it’s going to bunch up and feel uncomfortable, and you will not like it on you,” says Scherer.
You save shopping for the weekend
iStock/gianliguoriStores are the most crowded during weekends and right after work hours. To avoid fighting for a dressing room, go during the day or near closing time on a weekday, or arrive when the shop opens over the weekend. “Stores are less crowded, and you are more likely to get shopping assistance, whether it’s for style or locating inventory,” says Rothman.
You’re only there for retail therapy
iStock/gilaxiaGoing shopping in a bad mood is just asking for trouble. You might be convinced nothing looks good on you, or you might make purchases you regret, says Scherer. “Whatever you might gravitate toward might be nothing you would actually wear,” she says. Are you a shopping addict?
You haven’t thought about your shoes
iStock/kieferpixA pair of sneakers with a cocktail dress won’t look right, no matter how flattering the dress is. “It’s making sure you bring the shoes you’re intending to wear, or at least the height of the shoes you’re intending to wear,” says Scherer. As a bonus, shops offering in-store tailoring can measure you right away, so you can save time on making an extra trip.
You didn’t bring shapewear
iStock/trainman111No need to suddenly try new shapewear, but having your usual foundation pieces on hand could make you more confident. “If you go and try something on and say ‘If I had Spanx, it would look better,’ it would be great if those Spanx were already in your bag,” says Rothman.
You shop on your lunch break
iStock/pierredesvarreSqueezing a shopping trip into your lunch hour could mean a rushed decision. “You’ll grab the first thing you see and won’t try it on and properly evaluate it,” says Scherer. Leave ample time to judge how you feel about a garment, especially if you've never tried the style or brand, she says. Check out these better uses of your lunch break.