Things to Do - How to Shop For Clothes (the lazy way)

box (1 of 1)
(See the big box in the background? It makes me happy.)

People who see me on a regular basis are probably laughing like crazy right now, as I'm not exactly the world's best dressed mom. Nor do I claim to have great fashion sense. I never go to malls. I don't buy Vogue. Basically, there are many reasons to ignore this post.

But the other day at the playground many of my mom friends complained about how they hated shopping - the time commitment, the nasty dressing room lighting, the quest for something that looks good on our no-longer-20-year-old bodies - it all sort of sucks. Then I told everyone my clothes shopping strategy and a few people said, "that's hysterical/funny/odd/awesome, you should blog it." So here goes:


(1) Figure out when the beginning of your credit card cycle occurs then go online. AGAIN, IT IS VERY IMPORTANT THAT YOU SHOP AT THE BEGINNING OF THE CREDIT CARD CYCLE.

(2) When shopping online, look only at stores that offer free shipping (and either free or incredibly cheap returns).

(3) Start adding things to your shopping bag. At this point, I don't think of myself as actually "buying" anything, rather I'm trying things on. So order two or three sizes if you're not sure. Don't be picky. Shop away. Then click "buy".

(4) Once the clothes arrive, don't try them on right away. Wait until you have the house to yourself and you feel good about yourself. Your hair is pretty. Maybe you're wearing makeup. Think about the rooms in your house with the best lighting. TODAY IS YOUR DAY!! This is a gift from you to you. (But don't wait too long, as you still need to return things).

(5) With some clothes you'll know right away - yes or no. Some will even look so odd in person that you don't need to take them out of the packaging. Others will seem meant for you. As soon as something is a no, put it back in the box or return bag. You do not want to lose or misplace anything, especially clothing you don't actually like.

(6) You'll probably have a maybe pile. Take your time with these. Wear them around for awhile. Once your children or significant other returns home, ask their opinion. Also, go through your closet and decide which of the actual yeses you really need and see if you have anything to wear with them. This is your opportunity to put whole outfits together and see how they work (as I'm lazy, I usually skip this step).

(7) This is the important part - give yourself a deadline to decide. Usually 1-2 days. Also calculate how much the "yes" pile costs. Can you afford everything? You may have to make some tough choices, but that's okay. Mentally remind yourself that you do not own these clothes yet (yes, you've paid for them via credit card but you haven't paid the outstanding balance yet, so these purchases still exist in a state of ownership limbo), you are merely trying them on.

(8) Know where your nearest UPS/Fed Ex storefront is (I, personally, love Pak Mail of Arlington - friendly staff, easy parking, no lines, located down the street from Trader Joes). Also know where your nearest post office is. Drive there and return the nos. Don't hesitate or take too long. If you've played this right, almost all of the no purchases will be sent back and refunded to your credit card before the cycle ends.

Of course, some people prefer malls/bargain stores/actually leaving the house. And if you're one of those people, that's awesome. But, personally, I find comfort in this process. I have no idea how I look in a bathing suit under the bright hot sun, but I know I look tolerable in my J Crew mom-style one piece when soft light filters through our house it the afternoon. And this illusion makes it easier for me to go to a beach (basically I'm not above lying to myself a little; this body has housed three babies, it needs soft light).

Here is where I shop online, feel free to add to this list (I'm always up for suggestions):


* The Gap/Old Navy/Piperlime/Banana Republic/Athletica website always offers free shipping with a $50 minimum purchase and free returns. Plus I like that I can shop at 4 stores with one shopping cart.
* Fabletics has reasonably priced work out clothes and often offers free shipping with a minimum purchase.
* Zara offers free shipping on orders over $50.
* In spring and summer, J Crew usually offers free shipping both ways on their bathing suits.
* As crazy as it sounds, Amazon can be a good source for basics like leggings and t-shirts.
* Zappos for shoes (they also sell clothes).


* I love Stitch Fix because their stylists often pick things that I never would have chosen on my own. Plus, most of the clothing they send is reasonably priced.


* ThredUp has tons of used clothes for cheap prices and orders ship free.

* I love shopping for old 1970s cardigans in Etsy's vintage stores. It can also be a great source for bohemian peasant tops. 1919 Vintage is one of my favorites.

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