How To Buy What Really Works: Our Top 5 Tips To Shop Smart

Don’t underestimate the emotional power of shopping. We do it when we are happy. We do it when we are sad. We do it when we have had a rough day at work. We do it to reward ourselves for a job well done.

A 2013 survey conducted by TNS Global on behalf of found that more than half of Americans admit to engaging in “retail therapy” — the act of shopping and spending to improve one’s mood. For women, the number one type of retail therapy shopping is for clothing. This study in Journal of Psychology and Marketing that revealed 62 percent of shoppers had purchased something to cheer themselves up, and another 28 percent had purchased as a form of celebration.

Shopping isn’t evil and caring about clothes isn’t shallow. In fact, it’s necessary. We all have to put clothes on our backs everyday. Why not feel great about that clothing? Instead of focusing on the emotional “highs” of shopping, though, focus on the satisfaction and confidence that comes with a carefully curated style and wardrobe. Self-confidence comes when your personal style aligns with who you are. This is a wholly different feeling than the emotional high of a shiny, new purchase.

So how do you get to the closet, the wardrobe, the style that matches who you are and where you are in life? Here are a few quick shopping methods and strategies we use in our own process working with clients that will give you pause before impulse purchases, helping you create a streamlined, curated wardrobe that reflects your personal style easily and effortlessly.



1. Don’t panic shop. This is the number one cause of most shopping and closet errors. If you have an unexpected event that is three days away, use something from your own closet. The answer is in your closet. The stress of trying to find that perfect outfit for this event that is right around the corner will lead to more stress and opportunity for you to spend a ton of money on something that will never be worn again.


2. Don’t shop the sale rack. Yes we all love a good deal, but this shouldn’t be the sole, guiding factor in purchasing a garment. The way we shop sales with clients is to shop for what we need regardless of whether or not it is on sale. If they are not ready to take the plunge with a particular full-price item, we then watch for it to go on sale. We follow the item, not the sale.


3. Ask yourself, “Can I make three outfits with this garment that will not require additional new purchases?” This is a great test to see if this item truly belongs in your closet.


4. Think of your clothing in categories instead of individual pieces. This will prevent duplicative purchases. For example, “pattern sleeveless silky blouses for layering” is a category and floral blouse is a particular clothing piece. Shop to fill clothing categories instead thinking “Well, I don’t have a floral blouse.”


5. Wait. Yes. Just wait. Give yourself 24 hours before jumping into a purchase. It will help that little high of wanting that new thing to subside a bit so you can think strategically.


Think of shopping as part of a style process that has a beginning, middle, and end. Our method with clients is designed to have an end. We don’t look at style and wardrobe as this constantly changing and evolving THING because then you would never feel satisfied. You would just keep shopping endlessly and end up in the same frustrated state of an overwhelming closet.

Yes, we do change and evolve over time and so does fashion, but not every single day. Invest in what you need. Then stop. Create outfits, wear your clothes over and over again, repeat outfits again and again. If an outfit feels great today, it will feel great again next week.


  • The latest from Rosana
Founder, Chief Stylist | DC Style Factory
Rosana has 18 years of fashion and retail experience. Her team has worked on more than 1,500 closets and wardrobes since she launched DC Style Factory 10 years ago. She has been featured by the New York Times, The Washington Post, NPR, Washingtonian Magazine, Northern Virginia Magazine, and more. Her clients include U.S. politicians, lobbyists, authors, lawyers, and corporate executives.

DC Style Factory is a personal shopping and styling service for men and women looking to add polish and individuality to their wardrobes. We believe personal style is for anyone who wants it — regardless of age, size or budget.

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