Shopping for a new dress is the dream for any fashionista and shopaholic. But before we get to wearing the gorgeous new gown to a wedding, prom, a black tie ball or a fancy brunch event, there are a few factors you must know for shopping. Make this retail therapy as therapeutic as possible with our top 20 fashion tricks for shopping that new dress!
#1 Always Try Before You Buy
This really should be a #1 rule for anything fashion-related. Dresses especially will look very different once you’ve tried it on, in comparison to the hangar or the not-so-realistic mannequin in the shop window.
#2 Check the Dress Code
Knowing the dress code well in advance will easily help you when buying that new dress. If it’s a black tie event, go for a ball gown. When attending a brunch or lunch event, a cocktail dress will suffice. Business meetings, opt for something smart. And parties… well just know what the others are going for!
#3 Know Your Body Shape
Us ladies all have different body shapes, and we should never be ashamed of that! Whether you’re curvy, short, slim or just have big boobs, keep in mind that body shapes suit different dresses. A wrap dress does wonders for those with bustier chests and small waists (the hourglass), while v-neck looks are more suited to those with moderate sized chests. Shift dresses are perfect for those who have a wider waist than the lower body (the apple). The column dress is a great fit for the slim body shape (the banana) that elongates your limbs too. Opt for fit & flare styles if you carry more weight around your hips than elsewhere (the pear) for a flattering finish.
#4 Do You Already Have One?
We all know that having the same t-shirt or vest in various colours is a staple. But when you’re shopping for a new dress don’t buy an LBD for the sake of buying an LBD… especially if you already have one that’s really similar. That designer bodycon you’re eyeing up looks veeery like the one in your wardrobe from New Look, bar its brand label & price tag.
#5 Be Comfortable in Your Skin
Trying on dress after dress can be a tiring process but just because the dress doesn’t suit you or your body shape, doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you! Celebrities do this too, they’re normal human beings like you and I, so don’t be so hard on yourself. Remember to be confident and comfortable in what you have, and find a dress that will compliment what your mama gave you! “The dress doesn’t wear you, you wear the dress.”
#6 Can You Close It Yourself?
One thing to consider about buying a new dress is knowing if you can close it by yourself. If there’s a zip at the back, can you reach it and zip it all the way up or does it require an extra pair of hands half-way up? If it buttons up at the back, you may need a helping hand every time. Unless you have mastered the jump and tug, don’t try this with a dress you’ve just spend a good bit on.
#7 Be Aware of Lace
Lace dresses are gorgeous, right! But one thing that ain’t so gorgeous is catching said lace and accidentally ripping it. Because this is such a delicate material, be wary of it when choosing your accessories. Jewellery that could catch, a handbag’s clutch, or even your coat’s zipper. Keep lace in mind when planning your outfit in advance.
#8 Ditch the Fake Tan
If you’re on the hunt for a special occasions or big event dress, then be your most natural self by ditching the fake tan that morning. Not only will you be doing the sales assistants a big favour, but if you try on dresses and then opt not to buy them, when the dress is tried on by someone who does love it enough to want it, they may be put off by your fake tan marks.
#9 Don’t Be a Bridesmaid!
When attending a wedding as a guest, it’s wise to know in advance what colour the bridesmaids will be wearing. You don’t want to spend time and money on a beautiful dress to then be mistaken for one of the bridal party.
#10 Respect the Bride
While on the subject of weddings, never upstage a bride by wearing her choice of wedding dress colour, OR scarlet red, (especially if she’s chosen it as the bridesmaids’ colour). Give the bride the respect she deserves by not standing out so much. Yes, we know you look gorgeous in red, but just don’t be that guest – save it for another event. If you really want to wear the statement colour, at least cover up with a muted hue atop.
#11 How Much Do You Really Like It?
You know the way our mothers would ask to hold an item until the end of the day, to then come back to the shop anyway and buy it after traipsing around the shopping centre? It’s because she really liked it. If you know it’s a love at first sight moment with the dress, have no doubts and are all smiles once you’ve tried it on – then buy it! If you’re only medium-happy with it, take a photo and think about it.
#12 Glitter & Shimmer
Metallics are a big trend for this year, and as much as we love glitter & shimmer on our eyes and lips, we don’t love it all around the bedroom. If you’re attracted to these kind of dresses, be sure to try it on and then look down at the ground around you. If it looks as though you’re standing in a pool of fairy dust – ditch the dress. If you rub the dress once and glitter particles stick to your hands or the shimmery flakes that covers the floor you stand on, it’s a definite no-no.
#13 Ask For Heels
When shopping and splurging, ensure your dress will look good once you add the inevitable heels to your outfit. While trying on the dress, ask the shop assistant for a pair of heels. The more simple the shoes the better it will be to focus on the dress, so opt for black or nude pumps with a heel height you’re comfortable walking in.
#14 Pick An “I Feel Good” Day
One of the most important ways to start your shopping day is to be in a great mood for it. Walking around, looking through rails, searching for your size, trying on dress after dress, switching from warm to cool temperatures, spending money and time will all feel like a waste if you’re not in a good mood to start with. Have a nice breakfast, tea/coffee in your favourite mug, put on some tunes on your way to the shops and keep smiling!
#15 Shop with the Girls
It’s always fun to have a girls day out, so take the girls with you when shopping for a special dress – especially if you’re the bride to be. It’s best to take those who will be honest with you, and it’s probably best to keep the numbers small so opt for (up to) your five besties and you’re sorted!
#16 Choose Well-Lit Fitting Rooms
Trying on clothes can be a nightmare for some of us, and fitting rooms can add to that. Shops should offer a well-lit room, air conditioned with big mirrors and sufficient space within. Ask the shop assistant for a big room if possible, even if that means asking for the wheelchair-accessible fitting room.
#17 Check Out All the Angles
You’ve tried on the dress that’s tickled your fancy, it fits and you’re now staring at yourself in the mirror. Ensure you check all the angles of the dress using the mirror (or all mirrors if possible). The dress may look great from the front but when you turn to the side does it pop out in any areas that it shouldn’t?
#18 Know Your Budget
If you’re shopping for attending a wedding or have a special event coming up, it’s important to set yourself a price limit of what you’ll spend. Not only will you be looking for that new dress, but it’s possible you will want to style it with new shoes, jewellery, a bag and even a new coat. These purchases add up so give yourself a budget for each piece and try to stick to it. If you manage to go under the limit, then treat yourself to that Grande Caffé Mocha Dark afterwards with the leftover money!
#19 Shop During Off-Peak Hours
The best time of the day to do your shopping is always between the hours of 9am and 12pm. This is when the shopping centres and streets are least busy, even at the weekends. It also means that when in a store, the staff will be able to help you more easily without other customers on their mind. Plus, as you leave at midday with your bags of shopping to head home for a chill out, you’ll have the biggest smile on your face as you see the throngs of people only entering now.
#20 Try On Two Sizes
Every shop sizing is different. Why? We’ll never know! You may be a Size 10 in one shop and then in the next you’ll discover the Size 12 fits more comfortably. Save yourself time by bringing in two sizes of the dress you like into the fitting rooms. The dress which is more snug and zips up easily is going to be the right choice. That said, don’t let the loose fitting fool you, and consider what the dress will fit like after a few washes.