Awarding-winning personal stylist Susie Hasler goes non-essential shopping, fully prepped

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I love fashion but am a bit of a random, impulse buyer, but knew that would have to change post pandemic. Susie, who runs Styled By Susie, has put together a guide on how to shop effectively, without trying on clothes. She has a wealth of experience as a personal stylist, has written extensively, has sharp insight, and operates from Bluewater in Kent.

WORDS: Jean Hill

Susie begins: “Write a list, check out size charts before you shop and take a tape measure! As changing rooms are closed, an award-winning stylist reveals the most effective ways to shop now that none essential shops have re-opened…

personal stylist Susie Hasler

The shops are now open – but it’s not quite ‘business as usual’. From socially distanced queues just to get in, to changing rooms being closed – the new normal is going to present a whole other set of challenges.

While most stores have extended their refund policy to 90 days, you’ll want to avoid heading unnecessarily to and from shopping centres.

Pre-shop prep

A list is your friend. Have a specific idea in mind of what you want to shop for. Take a look through your wardrobe beforehand and identify any gaps you have. Do you have lots of lovely summer skirts but no tops to go with them? If so, make a note of the colours of the skirts and which hues would complement them. Or do you need summer shoes? Have a style in mind – do you want flats, or sandals or wedges or trainers?

Then write down a list of shops you want to go to. Browse online to see whether they have anything you particularly like, and want to see ‘in the flesh’. Take some screenshots on your phone so that you have everything at your fingertips, and you can easily find items when in store…

Will it suit me?

It’s beneficial to dress for your body shape and enhance the best (parts) of your shape… 

A neckline can make a big difference. If you are conscious of your tummy or you have a fuller bust, choose V necks and scoop necks to slim the torso. If you’re wider on the hips, opt for culottes, wide leg trousers and A-line midi dresses…

If you want to add curves to your frame, look at the statement tops around at the moment with exaggerated sleeves and frills around the neckline…

Can I REALLY wear red?

Without a colour analysis, the best way to see if an item suits your skin-tone in a shop, is to stand in very good lighting and hold it up to your face. Does the colour of the item drain your skin-tone or enhance it? 

A complementary colour will make your eyes, skin and hair more intense. Red is one to wear to make an impact – it doesn’t need to be a bright red dress, for example, it can be a subtle pop, such as lipstick, a scarf or earrings.

If you’re looking for girl-next-door flirty, pink is your friend. It’s fun and evokes sensitivity. If in doubt, choose navy blue and burgundy as they suit all skin-tones…

Will it fit me?

As most stores’ sizes come up differently, and you won’t be able to try on items in shops, this is going to be the trickiest challenge when buying clothes.

Before you hit the shops, check size charts online – and measure your leg length, hips, waist, shoulders and bust, to see how you fare in each store. Make a note of this in your list. Then check your wardrobe for items you already have from these stores and note the sizes that you’ve previously bought that fit you. It’s probably wise to play it safe and head to familiar stores while changing rooms are closed.

Shops such as Zara, H&M and Mango are less generous with their sizing, compared to Next and M&S. This means you might need to size up.

Check that the size noted on the hanger is the same as the label – there’s nothing more frustrating than buying an item only to find it has been placed on the wrong hanger!

Stop random buys

I have carried out hundreds of wardrobe declutters on women who have countless items still with the labels on as when they got them home, they realised they had nothing to wear them with. Not having enough basic items is the reason behind the saying: ‘I have too many clothes but nothing to wear’…

Basics are ‘boring’ items – the T-shirts, vests, cardigans and knitwear – that act as the glue to pull so many more outfits together. Just that one T-shirt will give you at least four different outfits.

Plus Sizes

Most shops have an online “Curve” range. Some of my favourites include: Mango Violeta Range, New Look Curve, Very Curve, River Island Plus and Dorothy Perkins Curve. Also, Evans is brilliant for stylish shoes in a wide fitting size.”

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