Friday, August 19, 2016

I Love/Hate Shopping!!

How hot is it?  It’s so hot I could cuddle up with a Popsicle.  "Come to Mama, you tall, cold, flavored drink of water!!"  That’s the bad news.  

Illustration by Claudi Kessels

The good news is that the cool breezes of fall will soon be wafting my way bringing with them everything I love about the season – the crisp air on my cheeks, the comforting warmth of a wool sweater and the heavenly smell of sausage and apples simmering on the stove. 

And then there are the glorious colors of autumn, more good news, which suit my coloring to perfection. 

Pantone Colors for Fall 2016 (Left to Right:  Riverside, Airy Blue, Sharkskin, Aurora Red, Warm Taupe, Bodacious, Potter's Clay, Spicy Mustard, Lush Meadow, Dusty Cedar)
And, even more good news, if you haven’t already started, you have fall shopping to look forward to.  Of course, that’s assuming that you like to shop, which I don’t.  Yes, ladies, as shocking as this may sound coming from a professional Image Consultant, who shops with and for her clients, I have to come clean and share a dirty little secret – shopping for clients is fun; shopping for myself is NOT. 

Until I got married, Mme Mère made most of my clothes, even my wedding ensemble.  I was definitely spoiled, so when I started shopping for myself, I found it a frustrating experience – nothing fit properly, the fabrics were of dubious quality and the workmanship was not up to my mother’s standards.  (And if you think it was bad then, it's much worse now; but more about that later.) 

So, it was time to pull out a Mme Mère invaluable dictum.  “If there’s something you have to do that you don’t like doing, get really good at doing it.”  Here’s the theory behind the dictum.  The better you get at doing something you don’t like doing, the more efficiently and quickly you can get it done.  Some day you might actually like doing it, but, even if you don’t, you can still take satisfaction from a job well done. 

And that’s just what I did.  I got really good at it, which enabled me to teach my clients how to get really good at it, as well. 

Here are my three favorite shopping tips: 

From February 2011 Issue of Matchbook Magazine

1)   Never go shopping without a list. Santa never leaves home on Christmas Eve without his.  Before you leave the house, check your list of Wardrobe Basics (If you don’t have one of your own, click here for my 10 Basics in Neutrals.).  From that list, make a second list of what you need and break it down into Basics, Accessories and Just for Fun.  That’s the list you take with you. 

2)    Never go shopping without lipstick. Sound silly? Not really. Store lighting is notoriously unreliable in determining color, especially in dressing rooms; therefore, your perfect shade of lipstick is a good clue as to whether the lighting has yellow or blue undertones. If your lipstick color looks “off,” check the color of the garment in natural light, if possible.

3)   Never go shopping with friends. Do I even need to elaborate on this one? For the Pro, shopping is not a social, recreational activity. Friends slow you down and even the most well-intentioned can have a negative influence on your choices. Just because she’s your best friend doesn’t mean she has any more taste in clothes than she has in men.  

O.K., so I got really good at doing something I didn’t like doing and made a business out of it.  Did I eventually come to love shopping?  Well, there are moments when everything just comes together so beautifully that I do love it. 

Unfortunately, over the last decade or so, shopping for clothes has become increasingly frustrating, even for the Pros.  Size inconsistencies have gotten way out of hand from brand to brand and even within brands.  Vanity sizes meant to appeal to our egos have only confused us.  Imprecise Alpha sizing (S, M, L, XL) is replacing numeric sizing.  Ordering on the internet can be very hit or miss. 

Watch as this young lady explores size inconsistencies while attempting to find the perfect pair of jeans. 


So, I guess when it comes to clothes shopping, Mme Mère’s dictum is still a solid piece of advice.  “If there’s something you have to do that you don’t like doing, get really good at it.”  You may never like the process, but if you get really good at it, you’ll love the results.  


  1. You are definitely lucky with the colours this season. I will have to concentrate on the blues and greys. Loved the video.

    1. Yes, indeed, the blues and grays are perfect for you. Glad you liked the video. When I saw that, I just had to include it.

      Cheers, M-T

  2. Dearest Marie-Thérèse,
    Happy for you that the temperature after Labor Day will become more pleasant.
    As for me, I can handle the heat very well, far better than cold!
    When I still was living and working in the Venice, Italy area, I did listen to a program about fashion sizing on the radio, while driving home from work in Germany (yes, my holiday I did still keep my promise for not abandoning them without training...). I learned that they do adjust that regularly every 10 years or so as people's built is changing too. So they do take an average of let's say 1,000 people and adjust the trend of people lengthening more or whatever.
    As for the last couple of decennia here in the USA the trend is for sure more towards proportional bigger busts. So that might be reflected in the average size as well.
    For this reason I love to stick with a popular brand that stays true to its sizing and that fits almost guaranteed.
    I never follow the seasons color but my own mood and by selecting from my existing wardrobe.
    Sending you hugs,

    1. We're still in the "soup" here, as my British Grandmum would have said. It's sticky and hot. We had one day of cooler (under 90 degrees) weather earlier in the week. Can't wait for fall.

      Women are definitely getting bigger, especially in the US, but, also, in France, believe it or not, perhaps due to better nutrition.

      I, too, have a few clothing brands that I stick to, but, even there, I sometimes run into inconsistencies. It can be very frustrating.

      Sending you big hugs,

  3. What excellent advice from both you and Mme Mère: Mme's dictum and your tips ring so true! The inconsistency of sizes in women's clothing is, indeed, nuts! Only way to know if a garment or pair of shoes fits is to try it on. I have to share this post on The Savvy Shopper's facebook page. Too good not to post it!

    1. That is indeed the bottom line, Debra. You need to try things on to really know if it fits and to gauge the true quality of the fabric.

      Delighted you will be sharing this on FB.

      Always appreciate your comments.

      Cheers, M-T

  4. I enjoyed reading your post and looking at your graphics. When I was still working for a large corporation I used to try to find attractive but comfortable clothes. Now that I am retired, I go more for the “comfortable” side of it. I did not mind shopping then, but I do now, mostly because I have to take my husband with me. He has Alzheimer and I cannot leave him home alone. It is also hard to go into fitting rooms because he then believe that I am gone and will exit to the parking lot … not easy. In this country they do not let him stay into the fitting rooms with me – but they do in Paris … I still have so many classical outfits that I don’t have to shop often – many light colored linen clothes for the warm sun of Georgia.

    1. Ma chère Vagabonde, I do agree that we should always feel comfortable, no matter what we are wearing. Being a "parisienne" I know you are an expert at being comfortable and chic. "Après tout" it's in your genes.

      I am so very sorry about your husband's Alzheimer problem. I know so many wonderful people who have had that cross to bear. It's so difficult, but it sounds as if you are managing as well as can be expected. I do hope you have help when you need a break?? It's so important to care for the caregiver.

      I would love to hear from you "hors blog," so to speak, and have a real chat. Please do not hesitate to contact me.

      Cheers from warm and muggy New Jersey.


  5. From Margie in Toronto - ah yes, the whole sizing issue - my worst nightmare. I have been losing weight so my clothing size has been changing - at the start of the summer I had to purchase a lot of new clothes and one day I was concentrating on tops. I took 5 tops in with me to the change room to try and get an idea of what size was now my best option - I had a M, L, XL, 1X and 2X with me and they ALL FIT MUCH THE SAME WAY! I could have worn any of them! No wonder women find shopping so onerous and frustrating at times - it really is ridiculous.

    1. Dear Margie, First of all, congratulations on losing weight...never an easy thing to do. Second of all, buying new clothes can be such fun. Third of all, welcome to the "I Hate to Shop" Club. I really feel your frustration, and yes it really IS a ridiculous experience. Here's where a good tailor can ease your frustration considerably, particularly as you continue to lose weight.

      But remember, you may never learn to love it, but you'll love the results.

      How is the weather in Toronto? We're still sweltering here in New Jersey.

      Do stop by again.

      Cheers, M-T


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