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Shopping Clothes? Help Her Find Her Own Style

Nov 1, 2007
What I am about to say is drawn from years in the fashion business. It will be helpful to the sales ladies in the apparel stores, but also to the friend, the shopping buddy, the fashion consultant. You do realize that's what you are when you go shopping with your friends, don't you - a fashion consultant. Take that role seriously. Sometimes we shop better when we have another person with us, who can see how things look on us from another viewpoint; we stand there by the mirror in the dressing room with a pile of garments to decide on, and it is much easier with at least another perspective on what cut, neckline, color, length looks good on you. Whether you are hunting for professional business attire, casual work clothes, or evening gowns, shopping with friends is not just for fun, it holds an important function - it can make or break your wardrobe, it can save you large sums not wasted on the wrong clothes, and it can give you great confidence in creating your image.

Which brings me to the first point - confidence. Encourage your friend to try on new things she usually doesn't wear just for fun. If she is normally a conservative dresser, make her try on a wild animal print top; if she is usually an extravagant dresser, make her try on a women's business suit with a basic white blouse. If you try new styles you may discover something you didn't know you looked good in, and never would have dared to try if your friend wasn't there. On the other hand, if there are certain types of clothes your friend feels really awkward and self-conscious in, then physically steer her away from those, and onto something else (another rack or another store). Acquiring clothes should build confidence and make you feel like you look good; if it makes you feel like you look bad, you are looking in the wrong places. Head elsewhere.

When she tries on clothes, carefully watch her facial expression and see how she responds to her own mirror image. There will be certain styles and colors that make her smile at herself, or perhaps just brighten up a tiny bit. She may not notice this herself, but you, as her fashion consultant, should be aware of it, because this means that she is getting close to finding what she likes. Which is the whole point. Never be too forceful in pushing your own opinion of style on her. By the process of trying heaps of clothes on (and I mean heaps), try to draw out of her what is truly her own style, and then reinforce that by telling her she does look really good in it. Never, ever continue to insist she looks good in an outfit when she has said that she definitely doesn't like it. Then you are actually pushing your own style on her, instead of helping her find hers. If she does like it, and if it does look good, but if she seems a little unsure, then pour it on with the compliments.

How honest should you be? If your friend tries on something that really does not look good, it is your duty to say so. Part of the reason why you are there, is to help her avoid costly purchasing mistakes. But be very tactful. If you blatantly blurt out, in a completely unreserved way, that it looks terrible, she may sub-consciously get the idea that she herself as a person looks terrible. It's important in this part of the process to make very clear that it's something about the cut, the fit, the length, the color of the garment that is off somehow, NOT that she, as a person, doesn't look good. And when she does find the right garments, then it is your job to help her fine tune it by, from your exterior viewpoint, making sure it's the right size, that the sleeves or pant legs are the right length, that it doesn't pucker or tug anywhere (it could be taken in for alteration if necessary). This is where she definitely needs your help and advice - it's no fun to be excited about finding a great white blouse, and not really discovering that the sleeves are too short until the first time you wear it.

And remember fashion consulting is a mutual exchange: that's what friends are for.
About the Author
Johanna Magnusson http://www.basicblouse.com Where you can always count on finding a good quality basic white blouse, to go with women's business suits, or with casual work clothes.
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