Building a versatile wardrobe is important for every busy gal - because when your wardrobe is optimized, your whole world can change. You’ll get dressed easier, you’ll look more refined and polished, and you’ll have no trouble transitioning from business meetings to after-hours events. To get to that level of wardrobe clarity, a bit of shopping is required, which might be frustrating and tedious - especially if you are tight on time and/or budget.
My job as a Wardrobe Stylist and Personal Shopper is to help my clients find the ideal pieces for their curated wardrobes without breaking the bank, and I also spend a lot of time teaching my clients valuable techniques on how to make shopping more stress-free, efficient and even (gasp!) fun.
I’m sharing 5 of my favorite Stylist Shopping Secrets, so take a read – and please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions!
If you’re looking to create a robust wardrobe and don’t know where to start, be sure to check out my article, “How to Build a Wardrobe for Success: “Lusts” and “Musts” to make your closet complete”.
ACE THE LIST
It’s very easy to get distracted if you start shopping with no particular goals in mind. You can wander aimlessly for hours, feeling uninspired without finding anything you love, or worse, you could end up buying random items you won’t easily be able to incorporate into your existing wardrobe. When you go grocery shopping, you usually make a list, don’t you? Well, I recommend applying the same planning strategy to your clothing shopping.
One good way to start building this list is by going through your existing wardrobe, and looking at what you own with a critical eye. Ask yourself: how often do I wear each piece? Does it fit with at least 3 other pieces in my wardrobe? Do I love the way I feel when I wear it? What accessory do I need to make this outfit feel & look complete?
This exercise helps you identify the missing pieces – so you can start jotting down your “needs and wants” list (which you can keep digitally or in a pretty notebook – whatever inspires you). This list should grow with seasonal items, trendy pieces you see celebs and Instagram bloggers showing off, and any items that you need to replace because they’re getting a lot of wear. List-building is a process, so the earlier you start, the more efficient your shopping will be the next time you go. I also find it helpful to make notes on the “priority level” of the items on your list, along with the budget you want to allocate to each item and any other specifics you want to look for (for example, red suede pumps to go with your green skirt). The next time you find yourself in the store, whip out your list and cross-reference it with what you’re eyeing - it will help you stay on course and be more objective with your purchases.
START WITH A VIRTUAL “WINDOW SHOP”
If you’re not a patient shopper, if you’re time-starved, or if shopping is just not your thing, it’s good to think of ways to alleviate the stress of the experience to make it more efficient. One of my favorite tips is to familiarize yourself with brands you love and follow them online to eye their inventory and new arrivals - before actually heading into their stores. One great thing about virtual shopping is that you can do it from the comfort of your couch (with glass of wine in hand), and you can check out all the details up close at your own pace. Plus, some sites even give you suggestions to help you create outfits. Virtual window shopping allows you to come up with a plan of what you’d like to try on in the stores, so that when you arrive, you’re not wasting time walking around, but rather enlisting the help of a knowledgeable sales associate to round up the items for you. PRO TIP: print out the list of items you want to focus on and bring it along so you can more quickly head to the dressing room.
WORK THOSE PERKS
Waiting for items to go on sale may not always work for you. In this case, I recommend a few other tactics to score better pricing. Some stores have loyalty/birthday programs, offering special discounts the month of your birthday (here’s looking at you, Anthro), or they may offer special perks like free shipping, tailoring and reward points for your purchases – which can add up to gift cards and gifts with purchase down the line (like Bloomingdales Loyalist).
Signing up to these in advance of your shopping spree is a great idea – as you’ll also receive notifications of special promotions, new arrivals and outfit inspirations.
USE YOUR VIRTUAL SHOPPING CART
To uncover savings, while you’re looking online at your favorite shopping sites, it’s a great idea to pop the items you’re considering into your cart or wish list. Not only will this become your “Shopping List” for that particular store, it will also allow you to track the prices for some of the items you’re lusting after, as any markdowns or sales will be reflected in the shopping cart when you refresh it periodically. This mostly applies to items that are not an immediate priority on your list, or when you’re willing to wait until they go on sale. Your patience will be rewarded and you can reap some mega savings with this technique.
SAVE SOME LEGWORK
To reduce the time you spend shopping, one thing I recommend is to call the store nearest to you in advance, and ask a sales associate to find the items you’re looking for, confirm they are in stock and then place them on hold (most stores will hold items for 24-48 hours, or at the very least till end of day). This way when you arrive at the store, your clothes will be waiting for you to try on – and you can save time that you would have spent walking around the store hunting (plus you’ll be sure your sizes are available). Additionally, most stores can search inventory across all their locations to check for sizes and availability - so if an item isn’t available at your local store, they’ll give you a list of other stores that might have it, or maybe even ship it to you (sometimes at little or no cost).
In 2016, I finally found my voice. I always thought I had one, especially as a business owner and mother of two vocal toddlers, but I had been wrong.
For more than 30 years, I had been struggling with the fear of being my true self and speaking my truth. Then the repressed memories of my childhood sexual abuse unraveled before me while raising my 3-year-old daughter, and my life has not been the same since.
Believe it or not, I am happy about that.
The journey for a survivor like me to feel even slightly comfortable sharing these words, without fear of being shamed or looked down upon, is a long and often lonely one. For all of the people out there in the shadows who are survivors of childhood sexual abuse, I dedicate this to you. You might never come out to talk about it and that's okay, but I am going to do so here and I hope that in doing so, I will open people's eyes to the long-term effects of abuse. As a survivor who is now fully conscious of her abuse, I suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and, quite frankly, it may never go away.
It took me some time to accept that and I refuse to let it stop me from thriving in life; therefore, I strive to manage it (as do many others with PTSD) through various strategies I've learned and continue to learn through personal and group therapy. Over the years, various things have triggered my repressed memories and emotions of my abuse--from going to birthday parties and attending preschool tours to the Kavanaugh hearing and most recently, the"Leaving Neverland" documentary (I did not watch the latter, but read commentary about it).
These triggers often cause panic attacks. I was angry when I read Barbara Streisand's comments about the men who accused Michael Jackson of sexually abusing them, as detailed in the documentary. She was quoted as saying, "They both married and they both have children, so it didn't kill them." She later apologized for her comments. I was frustrated when one of the senators questioning Dr. Christine Blasey Ford (during the Kavanaugh hearing) responded snidely that Dr. Ford was still able to get her Ph.D. after her alleged assault--as if to imply she must be lying because she gained success in life.We survivors are screaming to the world, "You just don't get it!" So let me explain: It takes a great amount of resilience and fortitude to walk out into society every day knowing that at any moment an image, a sound, a color, a smell, or a child crying could ignite fear in us that brings us back to that moment of abuse, causing a chemical reaction that results in a panic attack.
So yes, despite enduring and repressing those awful moments in my early life during which I didn't understand what was happening to me or why, decades later I did get married; I did become a parent; I did start a business that I continue to run today; and I am still learning to navigate this "new normal." These milestones do not erase the trauma that I experienced. Society needs to open their eyes and realize that any triumph after something as ghastly as childhood abuse should be celebrated, not looked upon as evidence that perhaps the trauma "never happened" or "wasn't that bad. "When a survivor is speaking out about what happened to them, they are asking the world to join them on their journey to heal. We need love, we need to feel safe and we need society to learn the signs of abuse and how to prevent it so that we can protect the 1 out of 10 children who are being abused by the age of 18. When I state this statistic at events or in large groups, I often have at least one person come up to me after and confide that they too are a survivor and have kept it a secret. My vehicle for speaking out was through the novella The Survivors Club, which is the inspiration behind a TV pilot that my co-creator and I are pitching as a supernatural, mind-bending TV series. Acknowledging my abuse has empowered me to speak up on behalf of innocent children who do not have a voice and the adult survivors who are silent.
Remembering has helped me further understand my young adult challenges,past risky relationships, anger issues, buried fears, and my anxieties. I am determined to thrive and not hide behind these negative things as they have molded me into the strong person I am today.Here is my advice to those who wonder how to best support survivors of sexual abuse:Ask how we need support: Many survivors have a tough exterior, which means the people around them assume they never need help--we tend to be the caregivers for our friends and families. Learning to be vulnerable was new for me, so I realized I needed a check-off list of what loved ones should ask me afterI had a panic attack.
The list had questions like: "Do you need a hug," "How are you feeling," "Do you need time alone."Be patient with our PTSD". Family and close ones tend to ask when will the PTSD go away. It isn't a cold or a disease that requires a finite amount of drugs or treatment. There's no pill to make it miraculously disappear, but therapy helps manage it and some therapies have been known to help it go away. Mental Health America has a wealth of information on PTSD that can help you and survivors understand it better. Have compassion: When I was with friends at a preschool tour to learn more about its summer camp, I almost fainted because I couldn't stop worrying about my kids being around new teenagers and staff that might watch them go the bathroom or put on their bathing suit. After the tour, my friends said,"Nubia, you don't have to put your kids in this camp. They will be happy doing other things this summer."
In that moment, I realized how lucky I was to have friends who understood what I was going through and supported me. They showed me love and compassion, which made me feel safe and not judged.