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How to beat shopping procrastination

Emmy Award-winner David Zyla has been a pioneer of Authentic Style on the runway, television, and Broadway for 20 years and has dressed names such as First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, Susan Lucci, Kelsey Grammer, and Christine Baranski....

How to shop year-round

Everyone wants to look their best on special occasions, yet we continually procrastinate and wait to choose the outfit until the last minute. Here, I plan to show you how to start shopping year-round, so you'll always look as fabulous as possible!
woman trying on shirt

Might you be guilty of this?

You were invited to a wedding three months ago. You have been meaning to shop for something to wear for weeks but have never quite gotten around to it. The event is now in two days. You have procrastinated long enough and you finally face the department store, armed with the delusions that you are going to walk in the front door and the perfect outfit will be right in front of you. Not only will it be perfect, but it will fit you and your budget flawlessly. Your fantasy outfit is so spectacular that when you walk into the wedding chapel, all eyes turn in admiration. You almost feel guilty of upstaging the bride.

Unfortunately, it is highly unlikely to happen this way. The real scenario will probably go something like this…

Two days before the event, you arrive at a store one hour prior to closing. You wander from department to department with a zombie-like stare hoping that inspiration will present itself. Only because you are exhausted do you happen to stop at a rack of dresses. You thumb through, thinking they are fairly lackluster as an associate tells you that the store will be closing in fifteen minutes.

Suddenly this rack of dresses is like fresh water on a desert island. Off you go with a few in hand to the dressing room. As you quickly try on and are underwhelmed by the first two dresses, you catch sight of your watch. You now have five minutes.

The third dress you try on, probably as lackluster as the first two, all of a sudden seems so much better than it actually is. The shoulders don’t exactly fit right, which you chalk up to needing a different bra, and the length is, well, just a little too long. Perhaps better with heels? Then there is the color, which seems a little off with your own complexion. “It must be this dressing room lighting,” you surmise.

You can hear the sales associate breathing on the other side of the door. “How are you doing in there,” she says, reminding you with her tone that the store is now closed. Before you can answer, you feel a rush of thoughts -- “This dress fits me the best of the three.” “I should have brought my heels so that I would know the length.” “With the right makeup, will the color work?” “Do I need to shop for a different bra?” “Don’t I want to be done with this thoroughly awful, completely stressful experience?”….You screech: “This dress works!” The sales associate replies: “I am so glad…” The thought bubble above her head continues with “….that you made up your mind and I can get out of here.”

Thirty-six hours later you wear the dress to the wedding. The length, even with your highest heels, is still just a bit too long. The shoulders fit a little less worse with the help of a different bra. The color, even with more makeup than you have ever worn is still, well, not the most flattering. Not only do you not receive compliments, but you actually feel mad at yourself for not taking a different route for this entire procrastinated exercise. Needless to say, you never wear the dress again and feel foolish at having spent the money on it.

While not procrastinating is easier said than done, the entire situation can be avoided by looking to your closet for inspiration, taking shopping seriously and incorporating a simple concept to your vocabulary: year-round shopping.

Here are some tips to ensure a stress-free fabulous outfit for every special event:

Planner

Take a look at last year’s day planner or calendar. If you seem to average three weddings, two formal parties and a handful of informal events per year, put a list together of these events and carry it in your purse. This way you can be reminded and be on the lookout for these items throughout the year. This is called year-round shopping.

Closet

Use your closet as inspiration. Take a look at the clothes in your closet and use them as a shopping guide for a special event outfit. The colors, fabrics, silhouettes, patterns and necklines should all be noted and will keep you focused on finding the most flattering clothes whenever you are out shopping.

Woman looking at dress

When you take the time to shop, take it as seriously as you would an important meeting. Prepare for it and give yourself plenty of time. If you’d normally wear makeup with the outfit you’re going to buy, wear the same makeup on this shopping trip. If you usually avoid glasses in favor of your contacts, put in your contacts. And definitely bring the shoes and undergarments that you expect to pair with your new purchase.

Armed with these tips and embracing the concept of year-round shopping, you are sure to always have the perfect outfit to wear to any event that makes you look and feel as absolutely fantastic as you deserve to!

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