Shopping – The Secrets to Success

Peak shopping time at the mall is on Saturday afternoon/iStock photo courtesy of  STYLEdge®

By Patty Soltis, Guest Columnist

There are many types of shoppers. The ones who eagerly look forward to the joy of finding an amazing piece, and then the ones who are just the opposite and dread it. The ones that tackle it like a project, list in hand. The ones that just never get to it and procrastinate going to the store or clicking online. The ones that are friendly with all of the sales associates in the stores and the ones that feel so overwhelmed by not knowing where to start.

After working in retail for 20-plus years, there are some tricks of the trade to know.

First, start in your closet to assess what you really need in order to avoid buying the same old thing that you already own. Try on items, determine if they fit or if they need to be replaced due to wear. If you have a closet filled with dark neutrals, add to your list a few items to bring lightness and color. During this process, make a list of what you need to purchase and stick to the list. Set a budget on how much you are going to spend and stick to it.

When  it is time to shop, here are some simple guidelines to follow:

1. Stick to your list. Yes, this is repetitive but needs to be repeated.
2. Do not purchase something just because it is on sale. Make sure that the price is right and it is an item that will fit into your wardrobe and lifestyle.
3. Evaluate the price based on the cost per wear. For example, if you are going to wear the shoes just once because they hurt your feet, your cost per wear is very high. But if the shoes fit just right and you can wear them for years to come, the cost per wear is very low. These purchase are called your investment pieces; they have a higher cost at the initial purchase but have longevity.
4. There are additional costs associated with alterations and dry cleaning. Remember to factor these into the price of the item.
5. Sales and promotional activity are frequent, so when do you purchase? Most sales happen around the holidays, literally all of them. Most importantly, know what value the item brings to you and what price you are willing to pay for it. Ask the stores what their price adjustment policy is for items that go to a lower price point.
6. Do not purchase items for when you expect to lose that elusive five, 10 or 20 pounds. You need clothing you can wear right now, today. Also, do not clutter your closet with these items for the future use since they’ll “mock you” when you open the closet door.
7. Saturday afternoons are typically the busiest in stores at the malls.
8. Learn what the store or online retailer return policy is before you purchase. This will save you time and aggravation later if you want to return a purchased item. Keep in mind most stores have implemented stricter return policies.
9. Take your smartphone with you to compare prices right then and there.

Do try on clothing in the store. We used to joke in retail that the worse the item is on the hanger, the better it is on the body. Hanger appeal really means nothing about how the item will drape on your body. It is about fit, style and proportion. No one has a “perfect” body.

Today we have so many options when it comes to shopping in the Tampa Bay community, from the malls to the boutiques to the consignment shops. Plus also add the availability of items on the Internet. Identify your favorites — get to know the sales associates in the stores and the boutique owners. The best ones are willing to help you find what’s best for you. (When you become a regular customer, the boutique owners will shop for you when they go to market.)

Most stores put items on sale around the holidays/iStock photo courtesy of  STYLEdge®

Of course, we all  don’t like the times when we cannot find a sales associate to help, but having a relationship can be helpful, and  you will also be in the know when there is a complimentary offer, special items arrive or the right piece that was out of your price range goes on sale.

The joy of shopping! Erase that feeling of having a closet filled with clothes but nothing to wear. Or one filled with duplicates of the same items. Enjoy getting dressed in the morning and approaching the day feeling strong and confident with the right wardrobe.

Patty Soltis/Photo courtesy of  STYLEdge®

Patty Soltis has spent the last three years as a frequently sought-after image consultant who specializes in working with alpha business leaders to match their brand with a credible and professional image.  She worked in retail for 27 years and was the general manager at the prominent retailers Lord & Taylor and Marshall Fields.  Patty worked for nearly 14 years at Neiman Marcus, mainly as their vice president.  She has worked with thousands of professionals over decades of change on their timeless image.  Patty can be seen on television and heard on radio and podcast shows.  She has been in media in print and online regularly as an expert.  She is the author of First Impressions Last, a book for the professional woman to exude confidence, power and skill with her attire.

Her Five Modes of Professional Attire give the client an impression to start the journey to competence, power and success.  Most of all, her clients make an impression that exudes leadership, achievement and results as an industry leader.  As a professional speaker, Patty communicates how to dress for success in a candid and interactive manner.  She educates and trains her audience how to put the Five Modes of Professional Attire into their life with ease and simplicity.  Patty points out items to invest in for a “cost per wear” return and how to shop on a budget.

Be powerful, be impressive, be memorable.





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