Sara writes: “Is there a fast and best place to shop for Level 1 clothes? I would love to go into one store, spend an hour, and leave with a new wardrobe. What do you recommend?”
Oh, how I wish there was a store so wonderful you could pick up an entire wardrobe in just an hour. But you might be able to get pretty close.
The first step is to do a little bit of homework. The more you know about yourself, the better you’ll be able to pick a store or stores to shop at–and the easier your shopping will be once you get there.
Level 1 is Weekend Casual, so that means simple, solid wardrobe basics: T-shirts, jeans, sweatshirts, cardigans.
Within this relatively narrow category, however, there are variations. Answering these questions will help match you to the store or stores that best fit.
The best places to shop for weekend casual clothes
- Style. Do you have an aesthetic preference?
- If you want to go more young and trendy, think H&M, Madewell or Abercrombie & Fitch.
- Sticking to the classics? You can’t go wrong with the Gap, Banana Republic or J. Crew.
- Looking for a looser, comfort silhouette? Think J. Jill or Coldwater Creek.
- What about something a bit unusual? Anthropologie might be for you.
- Silhouette. Do you have particular body shape needs: tall, petite, plus size? (Not sure? Take your measurements.)
- Tall girls: Look for pants that come in “long” in addition to regular at many of the chains mentioned above.
- Petite: The same goes for you; chains like LOFT and Talbots also have entire Petites sections.
- Plus: There are several boutiques for the curvy girl; find them here.
- Spendiness. Do you have a budget?
- I want to save: Chains like Old Navy and H&M are made for low-cost staples. Or try mass retailers like Kohl’s and Sears; keep an eye out for coupons, both paper and digital.
- I’m ready to splurge: If you really want to invest in your staples, Banana Republic and J. Crew are at the upper end of the chain-store spectrum, or try the casuals department in your better department stores like Nordstrom.
- I’m in between. Everything else above will generally fall in between “no money” and “no worries.”
And if you really want to get in and out as quickly as possible, here are my best tips:
- Make a list. Which Level 1 items do you need the most? In what colors? What sizes?
- Enlist help. If you’re willing to shop a bit upscale, take advantage of the personal shopper services at the higher end department stores (like the aforementioned Nordstrom). Be prepared to provide the information on your list in advance, including any brands you prefer. When you show up for your appointment, your shopper will have your items ready and waiting.
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