My girlfriend asked me a question about shopping recently and as I started replying to her question I realized the question might not be limited to her. All I can do is answer the question by what I do to help myself shop and dress every morning. Hope this helps, Mols! xoxo
Question: "My brain doesn't work in the fashionable way. I have a horrible time buying things because there are too many choices! I get overwhelmed and walk away with nothing. Maybe I should I focus on building outfits instead of buying something random?"
Answer: If you're having trouble getting overwhelmed or buying random things that don't make great outfits, you could do one of two things. I'd recommend either shopping in outfits OR -my method- buying a few fashion magazines (now is an amazing time because all the bible-thick fall issues are out now and after reading Vogue and InStyle issues this weekend I am drooling and saddened that I can't embrace the cold weather/fashions!), tearing out the outfits that really speak to you because of color combos, proportion sizes, "vibes" that you can't explain but know you love, or literally the outfits that you want to re-create. I, then, buy a piece of poster board at Target for a few cents every season and tape my inspiration pics to it. The poster board gets hung on the inside of my closet door. Then I make a "wish list" of items that seem to fit the style that I see coming to life on the board (because sometimes it's easier to see it when you look at the things you like as a whole and not piece-by-piece)
I learned this when looking for my wedding dress five years ago. I had purchased a handful of wedding magazines and started pulling out the pages of all the gowns I loved and, when I did, I realized that I loved lace, satin details, strapless, and a slight mermaid silhouette. That made shopping for my wedding gown really simple because I could walk into the store, tell the associate what characteristics I loved, and try on the dresses that had those things. When that worked so well, I decided to try it with my clothes. When it worked there as well, I just kept doing it!
Anyway, back to making a wish list. Once you look at the pages you tore out of the magazines, you can write a specific list of things you need to make those looks. I find I usually have of some pieces I need to make those looks, so then I know what to look for when shopping. Sometimes it's a specific thing like "high rise super flared jeans long enough for platforms" and other times it's generic like "a maxi dress with pattern." Then I carry that list in my purse and cross off the items as I buy them. It saves money, gives me a mission when I'm out, and provides me with a closet that works well together and expresses who I am.
**Another great source for inspiration comes from you computer/printer for free! I also spend time on the celebrity websites to see what they're wearing. I figure that they make way more money than I do and usually have stylists whose full-time job is following the trends from the runway and translating them to real life. So I find the celebrities who have style that I love and find inspiration from, and also who are usually my age and life station- Katie Holmes, Nicole Richie, Rachel Bilson, Gwyneth Paltrow, Sarah Jessica Parker- and I print out pictures of them for the board, too. This has become especially helpful for me as I'm slowly creeping out of the 20s and am a mom...those runway fashions and magazine editorials are sometimes hard to translate to my life station.
So that's what helps me. And then IF I find myself in a position where I have struck gold and have gotten all of my desired items while having some cash left, I just walk through the stores I love and let something speak to me. But that only comes AFTER I have what I need. Because your closet needs to be cohesive if it's going to work for you.