Wednesday, May 15, 2013

shopping habits

 At the beginning of the year, I decided to make a conscious effort to keep track of my spending. In the past 4+ months of keeping a running inventory, I've learned a lot about the way I shop.

I've learned that I do 75% of my shopping online versus 25% in person. Online shopping is just so much more convenient than finding the time to head out to an actual brick and mortar store. All of my in store shopping occurs on the weekends simply because I don't get home from work until around 7 p.m. Monday-Thursday. That being said, I've also learned that I return 75% of the items I buy online while I tend to keep 80% of what I buy in store. That's not really surprising - it's so easy to stockpile your online shopping cart because you need x more dollars to get free shipping or because you don't know which size will fit better so you buy two sizes to try on. On the other hand, you spend valuable time in store trying on and trying out everything that catches your eye, which goes a long way towards eliminating unwanted items by the time you check out. 

Another thing I learned about is where I shop. I noticed from my spreadsheet that I often end up buying the same type of clothing from the same retailer. This may seem like I'm reading too much into the data, but for someone who is super short and super curvy, finding clothes that fit decently is time consuming and frustrating. Petite sizing fits length-wise in the arms and legs, but don't accommodate my bust line. Plus sizing accommodates my bust line but is swimmingly huge everywhere else. I've found alterations to be a necessary reality for my body type, but anything that will help minimize the trial-and-error process is welcome.

My current rotation:

for casual dresses: Gap, Old Navy

for formal dresses: Nordstrom

for shoes: Zara & Topshop (on trend), Nordstrom (great variety), Madewell (love their flats), Zappos (great service), J.Crew

for jackets: Gap, Old Navy, H&M

for basic t-shirts: Target, Gap

for jeans: Gap

for jewelry: J.Crew, BaubleBar, forever21, thrift stores, eBay

for cute tees and shirts: Madewell, J.Crew

for discontinued/last season/hard-to-find merchandise: eBay

for splurges/gifts: Shopbop, net-a-porter

Gap and Old Navy make a heavy rotation in my closet for a variety of reasons: they have a wide range of sizes, they do basics quite well, they are often at reasonable price points to begin with but in addition, often have frequent sales, and shipping is free daily with orders of $50+, no code needed. They also take returns in store. I've found Nordstrom and Bloomingdale's to be my go-tos when it comes to department stores. Nordstrom's awesome return policy plus free shipping and returns (no minimum!) makes shopping there hassle free, and Bloomingdale's loyalty program is great for accumulating rewards (Nordstrom's has a rewards program as well).

Knowing all this has helped me cut down on aimless and futile browsing by going to my tried-and-trues first. It's also giving me the opportunity to analyze my habits and how I can improve them. I'm trying to transition to buying better - whether that means buying less, buying for quality, or a combination of the two. I'm trying to find the ideal balance between my budget, my needs, my style, and the ethical consequences of my purchasing power, especially in light of recent events in Bangladesh. It's a work in progress, but knowing how and where I shop is a start.

What are your shopping haunts and habits? Do you keep track of your purchases?

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