• Sara Marsden-Shreeve

How To Be Your Own Personal Shopper




Err, when I wrote that title I did think…doh! Sara, you divvy, if you teach women how to shop smart then they won’t ask you to do it for them! Then I thought, oh well it’s good to share and The Image Tree is all about teaching, caring and empowering and let’s face it I’ll always have my Shopping Confidence service, for that extra 1:1 and professional guidance. So read on my lovelies and find out my 10 Top Tips.

1. Under-Armour

It’s really important to go shopping in the right undies. Not only does this give you a better silhouette but it also helps find the right fit in clothes from the start. Everything is where it needs to be so the girls are in place and you’re knickers are smooth and don’t dig into your flesh, causing weird bulges. Nude is also probably the best colour to wear so that they don’t distract under tops or add extra shoulder straps to a neckline or shoulder.


If you’re shopping for a dress and quite fancy a backless/strapless number on your expedition, I suggest wearing, or popping in your bag, a strapless bra or clear strap number too. If you’re into Spanx and the likes, you can take them along but I don’t suggest you shop wearing them as you’ll cook from the inside out as you pound the stores and may well get stuck in a cubicle corner trying to peel them off. Best to try the dress at home later on with them on and shoe horn at the ready.

2. Love a List

We all love a wander around the shops from time to time don’t we? However, that soon gets tiresome and your purchases may become a bit random because there’s less thought processing going on. You WILL regret buying those nipple tassels (or maybe not!!).


Check your wardrobe first to see what you need, what would work with what you’ve already got (colour, separates, shoes, and accessories) then make a list of your requirements or a specific item and stick to it. You can always do a bit of online scouting beforehand if you want to check out which shops might be more likely to sell what you need. Heck, you could fill an online basket with lovelies and keep going back to see what’s a definite, a few days later if you have to.

3. Budget

Know where to shop and what brands suit your budget or needs so you know what you can afford and what you know you like. I strongly suggest taking cash because that allows you to stick to your budget and really helps you shop savvy because the money is tangible and real so you do see it disappearing out of your purse. Shopping with plastic, can be a bit harder to clock up and feels like magic money that replenishes itself and lives elsewhere, unless of course it’s your other halves lol. Consider the cost per wear calculation too if you want to spend a little more on a key item, more often than not, it’s a good idea to spend more on something you will wear to death. Fashion is expendable and short lived so can date quickly and then gets left, so don’t spend a lot on this kind of stuff.


Fashion dates, Style lasts forever

4. Set a Date

Avoid busy times and last minute rushes, else your neck veins will throb and the stress will ensue. This type of shopping is rife for making the faux pas purchase. Bored, tired, hungry, lonely or upset are equally no go-ers because that ‘retail high’ you experience, is very short lived and a waste of your resources. Instead, make a day of it, have lunch, fizz or coffee to break it up and flipping enjoy it, as ‘YOU’ Happy time. Book a day off work for god’s sake, no kids, no hubby…just you. Plan what you need and go for it…Bliss x It’s a lot more fun that sitting at home in your pjs clicking buy it, I think.

5. Trust Issues

Use those eager shop assistants to fetch and carry in the changing rooms and learn to trust your gut, don’t be duped by them telling you, you look fabulous unless you see it and feel it too. If unsure, don’t bother or take a selfie and make your decision later or when you can get feedback. I find if it makes you happy on, then it’s a keeper. Take someone you trust or go alone. Friends often say you look nice and usually don’t want to upset you or say the wrong thing, but if you have a friend that speaks the truth, then take them. Or you can book a pro! Ahem, nudge nudge wink wink.


Changing Room Karma

Try not to trust those changing room mirrors too much either, they are mostly evil, badly lit and have the tendency to make you feel shitty. See here in this article if you don't believe me! Less care goes into changing rooms for the most part, which the shops are missing a trick on, so you will usually get a better feel when you get home and use a normal mirror.


However, don’t be too hard on yourself if your usual size doesn’t fit, as all stores differ in their idea of sizes and use different pattern cutters/measurements. Just use the size as a guide and don’t be put off if you have to go up a size or two, if it fits properly its fine, you can always cut the tag out and in time you’ll forget anyways.

6. On Sale

I use the rule of three. If it doesn’t go with at least 3 things you can think of in your wardrobe, then put it back! Else it will sit and fester, alone at the back of your wardrobe with the spiders. If it isn’t fabulous, it isn’t a bargain.


Check the item size rather than trust the hanger. I’ve found no end of goodies put on the wrong hanger or in the wrong place. Don’t use a sale to shop for something specific or important, unless of course you’ve stalked an item from the beginning. They tend to be full of end of season, pulled out the back of the shop kind of stuff and have been rifled through a million times.


The shops tend to be crazy too, both with people and organisation, so unless you love a quest, keep Sales for a quick lunch break. Don’t get me wrong, I’m Northern so I love a bargain, but I always have a list and know what I need and the same goes for online. Leave the tags on until you actually wear it, unless it’s for a specific event, take it back if not been worn 2-3 weeks or valid refund date is due


7. Shoe Savvy

Wear sensible shoes else your trotters will throb, you’ll get angry and start elbowing and tutting and go home crest fallen earlier.


Getting hem lengths right whether it be for a pair of trousers, jeans or dress/skirt is crucial too, so it doesn't hurt taking the pair you will be wearing your chosen garment with you.


For trousers its important that they skim the top of the shoes and should be no more than 1/2" to 3/4" inch off the floor, as a rule of thumb. Try to shoe shop in the afternoon, for a better fit as its a fact that feet do naturally swell and that could make a big difference in comfort and crippling. Remember pop socks or hosiery that you'll be wearing too.

8. Hands Free & Easy Peel.

There’s nothing worse than carrying hundreds of bags as well as your handbag and no one enjoys throbbing hot red, sometimes blue, finger syndrome when you’re lunging towards the car park or bus. Not only that but you soon get pee’d off having to put it down or balance it on your wrist every time you want to grope a hangered lovely. Therefore, if you have a messenger/rucksack/shoulder-style bag take it shopping please.


Also, don’t get too busy with your clothes, think fewer, simple layers and easy fastenings which will allow for quick changes and trying on stuff. Save yourself those fights with necklaces and dangly earrings too, that get snagged in delicate, usually more expensive, fabrics. Yikes!

9. Shopping Habits

Trying new things is always a good thing to do because you’ll know then if it works or if it doesn’t, especially if you’re into trends. This is fine but don’t beat yourself up if they don’t work for your shape, don’t be a slave to it, move on it’s not your body's fault it’s the fashion cut.


On the other hand, knowing what works is fantastic but can lead to stagnation if you continually buy the same thing, so always try one thing a little different whether it’s the colour or print. Unless, you’ve tried something a few times and definitely know it doesn’t work don’t dismiss it till you have, you may get a nice surprise.


Same goes for a brand you may have formed beliefs about. If you always do what you’ve done, you’ll always get the same result. Be brave and spontaneous from time to time.


Equally, identifying your assets is the guardian angel of shopping. By dressing what we love about ourselves boosts confidence, so if you love your legs, show them off in shorter hemlines. Great face, use flattering necklines and embellishment and so on. Try not to focus on the stuff you’re not as fond of, the usual culprits are tummies and upper arms. Look for the styles, shapes and patterns to distract or camouflage, you can check out my blogs on all of these styling quandaries.


10. Quality Control

If like me, you sigh when you pick up the ‘dry cleaning’ bag or equally can’t be arsed with hand-washing, then seriously consider before you buy. Check the care label and ask yourself is it worth the hassle, will you do it, pay for it, wear it a lot? Some items such as coats, suits and occasion wear may warrant the odd clean but some may need it more.


Now I don’t believe you have to spend a fortune to look a million dollars as it were and I’ve many a cherished charity shop treasure, but learning to look at the fabric, seams, lining and the cut of something, even its cheap, is what makes an item look expensive even if it isn’t.


On the flipside, you can’t beat quality over quantity, so buy smart and invest in higher quality pieces for things you will cherish, love and wear a lot.

There’s obviously a load more I can add on a 1:1 basis but wanted to keep it real and ramble free! So go out there ladies and may the force be with you! Happy Shopping

Please feel free to comment and add any other shopping nuggets you may have picked up and would like to share, Id love to hear them. Always learning.

Sara xx

#Shopping #Practicalguide #Confidence #MindSet

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