Clothes shopping tips in a weak economy – Part 2

clothes shopping tips

Happy Fashion Friday and last day of March 2023!  Let’s keep discussing clothing shopping tips in a weak economy, Part 2.

2023 has been another learning year for me.  Sharpening my style and learning more about clothing shopping tips.

In Part 1, I began clothing shopping tips in a weak economy like most of us live in currently.  

We began with Tip 1 and Tip 2.

Today, let’s take those tips as the foundation to go a little further into your shopping experience.



clothes shopping tips

TIP #3

Put your wardrobe needs and your style adjectives (see yesterday’s post) in your phone before shopping, so they are at your fingertips.

The key to a successful wardrobe is learning how to mix old and new pieces together in many ways, so that a weak economy does not really touch your clothing choices.

In her book Forever Chic, Tish Jett writes:

“As Karl Lagerfeld said, “Reinvent new combinations of what you already own.  Improvise.  Become more creative.  Not because you have to, but because you want to…”

Frenchwomen of a certain age “recast” their favorite pieces.  Their creativity in mixing the old with the new or the old with the old in new ways is a lesson in eternally evolving elegance.”

Of course, if you have built a wardrobe on style adjectives and the messages you want to send about you with your clothes, then this technique is easier.

Your wardrobe mixes together much better if it is built on your own style and on your best colors.

Smart shopping is founded on an understanding of who you are...your unique style.

This is also how you get a lower cost per wear when shopping for pieces that will mix with your current style.

clothes shopping tipsSee if this scenario has ever happened to you….

You see online a woman in an outfit you absolutely love and you think…I want to be that woman.

So you purchase the outfit, and put it on, and it doesn’t look anything like what you saw in the picture.

It saddens you…you beat yourself up a little…rather than thinking it just might be the clothes…not you…that is the issue.

So now you either have to take time to return the clothes or waste the money.

I recommend when you see those photos to stop and do this evaluation before you hit a shopping cart:

  1. What is the age and size of the woman wearing the outfit? (Sometimes our minds are manipulated through advertising to think a certain way that is not who you really are)
  2.  What adjectives does that outfit speak to you…does it match with your own?
  3.  Is the outfit in your personal best color palette?
  4.  Does the outfit go with the rest of your wardrobe…or would it stand alone?  (Sometimes a special event warrants a stand alone purchase, but our wardrobe should have few of these looks)
  5. Does the outfit reflect a lifestyle reality for you or does it represent a life you “wish” you had?  Why do you think you would want to be that woman?
  6. Can you think of at least three different ways you would wear it or three different places you would wear it?

Clothes shopping tips in a weak economy must include evaluation and less shopping therapy!


clothes shopping tips

TIP #4

In a weak economy, we must all be aware of our budgets.  Shop with money you have, not with credit you grow.

Of course, credit cards are fine, if you know it will be immediately paid.  

I always recommend that you sign up for emails and/or texts from your favorite retailers, so that you get immediate notices of sales and clearances. 

Smart shopping says to be on the front of that and not left out of it.

These four clothes shopping tips are the foundation of smart shopping in a weak economy…or otherwise.

I know I said today would cover fashion retailing, but it got to be long as well.

On Monday, my last post in this series will be a big one including fashion retailers around the theme is how to honor ourselves over 50 with our shopping. 

It will address fast fashion vs. high end fashion, and what I am currently experiencing as I shop.

Tomorrow, of course, Jennifer and I will return with a styling challenge.  These have been fun to read what everyone would do with the outfits.

Please comment on today’s post…does anyone know how many different looks you can get out of your own current wardrobe…you might be surprised…now make sure that you…


Pamela Lutrell

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clothes shopping tips


  1. All great tips and not just for an economic downturn. Something I do when I’m playing with different outfit ideas, is to hang my clothes in outfit combinations, rather than all shirts together, pants, blazers etc. For example: a pair of black pants with 4 tops that coordinate and 2 jackets (a blazer and a long cardigan). And if you have the space, add accessories and shoes.

  2. Those are VERY good and important questions to ask when you see something in a catalog or on someone online. I can see where that would be an easy mistake to make, thinking we’d look the same. This is why I almost never buy online… thankfully there are still stores to shop in. I will say, when I see something on someone that I like, I have truly learned how to see myself and can make almost instant judgments on if it will work or not. For example, I often think women in the Chico’s mailers look nice, but it’s SO not me style wise! You can definitely learn these things. I agree with Karl Lagerfeld and have such well thought out basics to use in different ways, that I shop only to replace or fill a gap in my wardrobe, which amounts to very little shopping and a chance to be creative. This spring I need to replace some jeans and add one pair of dress pants, and that’s it. It might sound boring, but it’s a very calm approach to getting dressed and enjoying my closet. Simple elegance is my style goal.

  3. This economy is certainly making me reevaluate my spending habits regarding my wardrobe. As I plan for an October trip to Italy I will be concentrating on the pieces I need for that. Fortunately I own quite a few Chicos Traveler’s pieces that are years old and I will be resurrecting them. Another caution to shoppers in a bad economy is to avoid final sale items; I’m still smarting from a ruana/wrap I bought online in a color I never wear. I follow a Chicos resale posting on FB and I’m shocked at how many women are selling items with tags still attached, never worn. It seems there are many women out there with seriously poor shopping habits!

  4. You have made some excellent points in these two posts. It’s so easy envision yourself in some article of clothing , but as you said, you are often disappointed. As I said yesterday I’m trying to rein in my buying temptations as I already have so much clothing. Yet I’ll stand in my closet and think “ I have nothing to wear!”. I truly need to try new combinations with my clothing since I only buy in “ my winter colors” which should then all coordinate. You’re definitely making me think which is good!

  5. That is exactly why I am writing these posts. To lower the numbers of shoppers who get stuck with items they don’t really want! BTW if you have room in your suitcase will you pack me on your trip to Italy!!

  6. I hope these posts will ultimately help you to see more when you walk in the closet!

  7. For a while after retirement, I was shopping for the life I had when working. Not only the type of clothing, but the amount of clothing I was buying was not right. It was hard to shift my mindset to more casual garments, especially to spend money on them, rather than wear worn out clothing on weekends and cheap workout wear, all to save my budget for the more “important” wardrobe. I now honor all aspects of my life, including my walking, which keeps me healthy and strong. I enjoy playing around with more athletic bottoms and nicer tops, and my overall look has become more minimal and sometimes even sporty. I think this thought process is some of what you mean today in your wise words. I’m sorry it took me a while to figure out, because I had more clothing misses for a while there than I’d had in quite a few years.

  8. We all have those clothing misses, Linda. And, I submit that anyone transitioning from a professional world to a more casual world needs time and grace to figure out how they want to wear confident styles in a different life. Sounds like you are on the right path of figuring it all out.

  9. I haven’t been shopping for myself very much since retirement ( 2013). I have replaced some basic clothing which is now two sizes too large since my celiac disease and my new walking regiment. (Celiac disease means no regular pizza, pasta or pastries nor any deep fried anything that is breaded or floured) yes there are gf alternatives. Try them sometime!
    But getting back to women and shopping. Our local favorite shopping center is always busy Abd bustling since post Covid restrictions were lifted and women are strolling about carrying shopping bags — they’ve actually shopped. The stores like Talbots, Chicos and Anthropologie and similar Boutiques are surprisingly busy every afternoon that I drive past or through to park and window shop.. (I’m not sure we are in a weak economy- that’s the thinking. ) I think for some people who were out of work and living on government benefits, yes it was a challenge and still is tough, but from where I sit – I still see our popular stores are quite busy.

    I’m not buying much but there is a segment or two of our population still buying clothing jewelry, and shoes around here.

  10. I completely agree…when Leigh Ann and I have been out lately…the stores are packed. And that is such a good thing for our economy. I just want to make sure that women are using smart shopping guidelines to make the best purchases for them. I think these posts have developed into more guidance for smart shopping all of the time and not just particularly during financial stressful times.

  11. You’re so right that indiscriminate purchasing contributes to inflation, but I think your advice is important in any economy. I think that we’re more apt to overspend when we feel flush. That’s why having a short list of what I need at my fingertips is such good advice. There are so many lovely florals this year, but the truth is, I don’t like florals on me. I hang my clothes by type (top, jeans, etc.) and color from light to dark and organize my drawers in the same way. This helps me when, like Celia, I feel as if I have nothing to wear. One question I have is, when is it appropriate to add a new color? I have lots of my neutrals but would like to brighten my outfits a little w/o breaking the bank.

  12. Well, I am going to say anytime is a good time to add a new color that is in your best color palette…but spring is absolutely a perfect time. I love to add color for spring and summer just to brighten the season up a bit. I also think neutrals can be beautiful with just one striking color. I love off white and soft tans with green right now…just drawn to it personally. My only advice is fashion your wardrobe around one palette so that it all works as a family and supports one another and speaks to your unique style.

  13. If you have clothing needs that are not standard, it’s easier to settle for something that is barely adequate, rather than continuing the hunt and paying a little more for a suitable item.

    We have to dress for our genetics, like our height, long arms or a narrow waist and curvy hips. We can’t change our bone structure.

    When there is a trend for cropped pants but you are long in the torso, pass. Seek out full-length pants. Wait. Be patient. When the colors are dusty but you need bright, clear colors, pass. I’d say find a retailer that works for you and stick with it, but retailers change suppliers and sizing charts go out the window. Always, always check the charts for each item if you’re buying online. Changes aren’t announced. Colors are sometimes enhanced with filters in online photos.

    This is why in-person clothing shopping is seeing a resurgence. It’s nice to see, touch and try before you buy. Fewer returns are a good thing. Retailers have begun restricting return policies and increasing the qualifying amounts for free shipping.

    So back to the stores it is. We make fewer impulse purchases if we can’t just click and buy anyways. It takes effort to go try on clothing in person.

  14. Love today’s tips and this conversation. Lately I have been wanting to simplify and pare down my look. Stores are busy, and I have replaced a few items, but I am going to concentrate on simple closet outfits and interesting summer shoes as I did last year. I love the improvising remark of Lagerfeld and the idea of recasting the clothing. Tish Jett speaks to clothes being a canvas and how Frenchwomen use under the radar accessories to tweak a look. She says that they actually curate their accessories carefully and with great thought, which is why some might still be wearing a twenty five year old quality dress. Getting back to the ‘canvas’, where are the photos of the mannequins under the art from. So simple and enticing, especially the slim pants and lovely tops in the second one. A wonderful display to my eye! Another note, I wish I could say that I don’t order on line , but I do. I try to limit it to free shipping and free returns. We have very few choices here other than chain stores and a mediocre department store. We will be traveling to Charleston for Easter with family, and I can’t wait to snoop shop in boutiques, even if I buy nothing.

  15. I love just about everything Tish Jett writes. Was re-reading one section when your comment popped up, Deborah! Do not apologize for shopping online. With stores carrying less inventory, it is absolutely necessary for many!
    Of course, it is one of the ways I am compensated. I still advocate for us to be smarter shoppers and have more victories with our purchases!

  16. I have enjoyed & appreciated your tips from the last two days. The younger me was a big consumer of fast fashion & going for quantity over quality. I have also been guilty of buying for a life I am not living. I have done this not just for clothing but for my home & even for hobbies I don’t & most likely, won’t ever do. As the saying goes, with age comes wisdom. Now, I do consider cost per wear, where would I wear this & do I have anything in my current wardrobe that this works with. I almost purchase a black blazer today, but after a pause, I realized it didn’t fit properly & the fabric was much too heavy for my needs. I am also taking my time gathering ideas & thinking through any room updates that I am planning.

  17. I have also made those mistakes with home interior, Becky…but you are right with age does come wisdom and right now I like my home interior better than I have in a long long time. I finally did what I wanted to do and stopped trying to be like homes on social media!

  18. When I was ill with the first go around with COVID I spent some time researching the rules tor a petite over 50 and did a huge closet purge after. Then I found my color palette to follow and keep a pic of that on my phone. Those two tools combined with pared down taste helps me to make better choices when shopping. I don’t shop online much as I tend to return most items. I did recently sell 3 pairs of newish shoes to a resale shop and made a whopping $18! Ha, never buy shoes that hurt your feet regardless of how cute they are, lesson learned. I so enjoy your tips Pam and am looking forward to Monday’s post!

  19. I so agree…never, ever buy shoes that hurt your feet! And there are many evil cute shoes out there…be careful!
    Thanks for sharing, Wendy.

  20. These are such excellent remarks. One thing I like to do is snap a screenshot of outfits when I am looking in a catalog or online. Then I keep this collection of photos on my phone in their own folder and refer to the folder for inspiration when I thinking about what to wear. Often times these photos remind me of something I already have in my closet which can be re-imagined in a new outfit . I also like to think of an item in my closet and review three ways that it can be worn. This is a way for me to be creative, it’s fun, and inspires me to wear things I haven’t worn lately.

  21. Thanks for another very insightful post on this topic! I love your six additional evaluation questions, which get to the heart of why many of us shop. Number five is a big one for me, as I spent many years buying clothes for a fantasy life that never materialized when I became a divorced, empty nester. While there’s nothing wrong with having a nice little black dress or other seldom worn items for “just in case,” we need to be focused on what works in our real lives and the bodies we live in TODAY. I am finally buying a better version of an item the first time around, instead of buying two or three “almost right” versions that were never worn. I’m still probably buying too much overall, but at least my standards are higher and I’m making fewer mistakes. In categories where I have too many versions of the same item, I’m asking myself which three of them work best, or which ones I am most likely to reach for. Then I’m consigning or donating the others, even though there’s usually nothing technically wrong with them. I want to get to the point that I can stand in my main closet of current season items and know that any item I choose fits me, flatters me, is in good repair (clean, ironed, altered or mended) and that I can wear it with other items in that same closet. I am becoming less susceptible to retail marketing and look forward to hearing your thoughts on the retail side of this equation in the next installment.

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