Shopping for clothes – do you love it or hate it?

I recently ran a poll on LinkedIn to find out how people shop for clothes, and from the results, it’s clear how popular online shopping has become (long before the pandemic meant we were unable to venture into a store for so long), as well as how stressful many find the process.

Here are the statistics, based on the questions I asked:

Do it all online:  47%
Favourite hobby: 18%
Avoid it – too stressful: 35%

In addition to these votes, comments suggested that many who choose online shopping, do so because they find going out to the high street just too stressful so that 35% is probably much higher.

There are a number of reasons why stress can play a part in clothes shopping:


Walking into a store and being faced with racks and racks of clothes, with no idea where to start can leave you feeling completely overwhelmed.

At least with online shopping, you probably have a few ‘go to’ brands you look at and you can limit your search to certain types of garments.  In the stores, although sometimes specific types of clothing can be all together, on one or 2 rails, they are often spread around (especially in the large department stores), leaving you aimlessly wandering around, getting more stressed by the minute.

The dress size issue

Let’s face it, women’s dress sizing is a complete nightmare, compounded by the fact that many of us are obsessed with either reaching a certain size or being determined not to have to go up a size.

It’s unlikely that there will ever be a standard sizing policy across all women’s fashion brands, due to their individual target market and the fact that they are often cut to flatter different body types.

How often have you found a discrepancy with sizing from store to store?  You could fit perfectly well into a pair of size 10 trousers in one store, but need to go up to a 14 in the next (‘vanity sizing’ can also be the reasoning behind this).  In fact, it’s quite possible to try on 2 identical items in the same store and find that they fit differently.  It’s frustrating and demoralising.

My advice would always be to ignore the label and check the fit.  Trying on clothes in changing rooms is, for many, another stress we could do without, but I would always recommend trying on before you buy.  If you don’t like the number on the label, cut it out (after purchasing the garment of course)!

Lack of time

We are all busy, whether running a business, working in a stressful job, juggling everyone’s schedules within a busy family home etc.

It can be easy to just grab something at the local supermarket, dash to an out of town store at the end of the day, or repeat order the same few basics from your favourite online shop, without giving any thought to whether these clothes actually fit you well, or how they make you feel.  You can end up with a wardrobe full of clothes that bring you no joy at all, leaving you feeling pretty rubbish and even more stressed about shopping as you have no idea how to make the necessary changes to these habits.

Self-care is key.  We all have busy lives, but sometimes we just need to spend some time taking care of ourselves and that includes the way we look and dress.  Plan into your busy schedule some time for yourself, on a regular basis, and reassess your current wardrobe and where the most important or urgent changes need to be made – take it step by step.  An image professional can help you with this and it can really help to improve your confidence and self-esteem as well as how others view you.

Crowded shops

This can put many people off, including me!  More recently, with the pandemic not yet completely under control, shopping in person has been difficult and quite scary for many.  Online grocery shopping has really come into its own since March 2020 and has been a lifeline for so many people, although I have to say that I still prefer to go to the supermarket myself.

I, like so many, really don’t enjoy any kind of shopping in crowded stores.  My best advice is to go early in the day before the crowds arrive.  You can browse around in peace, don’t have to queue for a changing room, or at the tills.  Especially during the sales, early is best, then you can treat yourself to a coffee, while everyone else battles in the crowds.

Lack of planning

How many times have you been out shopping with no real idea what you’re looking for?  It makes it so much harder if you have no real purpose to your shopping trip.

Keeping a note of items that you need to add to your wardrobe makes life so much easier.  However, before you can do that successfully, it’s best to be clear on a few details:

  • Are the items for work, casual wear, a particular event?
  • What styles do you need to be looking for? (they should flatter your body shape and work for your personal style)
  • Be aware of your personal style preferences (my free style quiz can help with that)
  • What colours should you choose? (understanding what suits your natural colouring will really help, and will ensure your purchases work with lots of other items already in your wardrobe?)
  • What is your budget?  Being drawn towards items that are outside your price bracket and then feeling guilty about spending so much money can be stressful.  Set a budget and stick to it.  You might want to find out when the sales are due to start and consider buying the item then, if you still love it and are sure it will add value to your wardrobe.

Your next step

If you are in the ‘hate shopping’ camp, this blog post may help you to be more aware of what is causing you to feel so stressed.  Once you have acknowledged what the problem is, you are halfway to solving it, although you may well find that help from a professional will make the process less painful.

If you have a love of shopping but still find yourself saying ‘I have nothing to wear’, my advice on planning before you shop should help you to make more discerning purchases in future.

If you’d like to find out more about how I can help you avoid the stress and develop your unique and perfect wardrobe for your business and your life, leave a comment, email me or check out my website.

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