Shopping 101: Taking Inventory

closet cartoonOver the past few years of working in the retail industry and speaking with countless women,  I’ve come to the conclusion that many women out there are shopping aimlessly, and therefore spending unnecessary money.  The best analogy I can give here is the grocery store.  What happens when you goto the grocery store with no list, hungry?  You buy a lot really strange food and spend way more money then you should have.  The same goes for clothes shopping! If you shop with a purpose, you tend to stay focused, buy things  you actually need, don’t duplicate things you already have, and in the long run save money.

Taking inventory is pretty simple.  The first thing you need to do is pull everything out of your closet and under the bed.  By everything, I mean everything. Start by sorting by category of clothing (short sleeve tops, tanks, sweaters, casual pants, dress pants, skirts, dresses, etc).  As you are sorting, go through and decide what you are keeping and what you would like to get rid of.  Be honest with yourself–if you haven’t worn it in 2 years, get rid of it.  Let’s make room for more clothes! (Tip: Try selling your clothes to consignment/secondhand shops like Plato’s Closet.  You’ll get rid of your stuff and make some money for your new wardrobe in the process).

After you have everything sorted through, put it back in your closet, by category and color.  This will help you see any personal taste trends.  As you are hanging each category up, write down what you have.  You can keep this really general (ex: Polos in pink, blue, and white).  Or you can get detailed down to the brand and size level.  This kind of detail will help you hone in on the right size when shopping in familiar stores.

After you have taken inventory, step back and look at your wardrobe.  Is your wardrobe very heavy in one category and lacking in another?  Think about where you wear your clothes the most often.  If you spend 5 days of the week in a business casual office environment, but you only have 2 pairs of dress pants/skirts, you may need to focus on building your work wardrobe.

Next, make a wish list of things that you think would help fill in the holes of your wardrobe.  Before you start buying trendy pieces, make sure you have a good foundation of basic pieces of which to build upon.  The more basic pieces you have, the further you can make your “fashion” purchases go.  I’m going to relate this to grocery shopping again.  There are certain things you probably try to have on hand at all times–eggs, milk, sugar, bread, spices, flour, etc.  These “main ingredients” can be combined in different ways, with other ingredients, to make completely different meals.  The same is true for your wardrobe.

I’ve listed some good examples of basics below–but remember this is just some examples to get you started, not a comprehensive list.

– Cardigans in neutral colors

– Black trousers

– Camis and thin layering tees in a variety of colors

– Casual, non denim pants

– Black pumps, black boots, black flats (also applicable in brown)

-A great pair of well fitting jeans

-A few button down, solid shirts

– A black skirt

– Solid V-Neck, thin sweaters that are also good for layering

-A good structured jacket/blazer

Look at your closet and decide if you have the basics covered.  If not, then make a list of things you need and keep it in your handbag, along with your inventory list.  The next time you are out shopping and are tempted to buy another pair of khakis, look at your list and see that you actually need some tops because you have 25 pairs of casual pants (that you can only wear on the weekend).  Just an example, but you get the idea.  Also, when you are looking to buy a “fashion” piece (like a zebra print blazer), you will have a list of things you own in your closet, which will help you decide if you have items already that will work with that purchase. A focused shopper is a savvy shopper, and I can guarantee that you will save yourself some money, and some scary impulse purchases, if you have a game-plan going in to the stores.

I hope this helps!  Let me know your thoughts and shopping tips in the comments.

Happy Shopping!

~ by Jess from JessRunsATL on August 23, 2009.

5 Responses to “Shopping 101: Taking Inventory”

  1. This is a great post Jess and I love the analogy. Btw, you’d be so proud I bought my first pair of skinny jeans today. They are on sale at target for $15!

  2. kind of like today when i went looking for a dress, did not find one, but only spent $3.10 on hair clips. then i returned home and after careful consideration decided to wear my little black dress to the wedding… with one or both of those clips ;0) now to decide on shoes.

  3. I’m so proud of you girls! April, send me a link or photo of the jeans and Ill post them in my blog!

  4. […] if you don’t want to take everything to the tailor, for your basic items (that I listed in this post), spend the money to get them fitting […]

  5. […] Hope this helps open your mind up to how easy it is to take a basic wedge sandal from day to night to weekend, giving you more BANG for your buck!  Also, if you fall in love with an item, it pays to shop around a bit to see if you can find something similar for less. You may notice here that there are a lot of basic items listed…be sure to check out my post about building your “inventory” of basic items that helps you transition from day t…! […]

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