Leslie Willmott | Wardrobe Strategies for Career, Travel & Casual Lifestyles

Wardrobe Strategies for Career, Travel & Casual Lifestyles

How to Be a Smart Shopper

By on Sep 22, 2015


Fall is in the air and I’m pouring through my favorite fashion magazines, store catalogs, and runway shows on YouTube, dreaming of all the new wardrobe pieces I’d love to have. I can’t have them all – my budget simply won’t allow it – nor do I have the lifestyle many fashions are designed for. Before you and I head to the stores, it’s smart to identify what we need – not just what we want – and to be savvy shoppers. The payoff will be a better investment of both our money and our time.


Elegant Essentials from Halsbrook







1. Inventory your fall/winter wardrobe to get a big picture of what you already have. There’s nothing worse than getting a new item home and realizing you already have something very similar…or that it doesn’t go with anything else in your closet. (How many orphans does your closet already hold?)

2. Determine what you need. Do some favorite basics need to be replaced due to wear? Does this season’s wardrobe need a little updating? Do you need to bring more of your best colors into your closet? Make a list of “needs” and also “would like to haves” – I find it helpful to make the distinction when shopping within a tight budget.

3. Shop your closet first. Can you restyle items you already have to create a new look? For example, belt a dress and wear it with leggings and booties. Will the addition of an “impact” piece – a new scarf, a belt, or shoe – give last year’s major suit purchase a fresh look? Did you keep that poncho you purchased way back when? Well…it’s “trending” again!

NOTE: Here’s where a wardrobe consultant can save you lots of money! A trained eye can see new wardrobe combinations that you hadn’t thought of and give you guidance on what 2 or 3 items will update your wardrobe or compete the best look for you.



  • Set a realistic budget. It may be a ballpark number but many women overspend because they don’t set parameters. You don’t want buyer’s remorse when you look at your receipts – make sure you don’t spend more than you can afford.
  • Shop online first. Unless it’s a brand I’ve worn before, I prefer shopping in a store so that I can touch the fabric, examine the construction, and ensure a good fit. However, I research online first to find out which store has what I’m looking for…and I always go to a few websites for help with my planning. (I love Pinterest for getting a wide assortment of styling ideas; I’m a classic dresser and Halsbrook is a favorite online retailer for seeing beautiful new wardrobe basics.)
  • Shop when stores are least crowded, usually weekday mornings before noon, at dinnertime, and in bad weather. Shopping when stores are the busiest can lead to shopping fatigue, which might make you irritable – not good for making buying decisions. You want to be alert and positive.
  • Shop alone unless you are working with a professional wardrobe consultant. It’s easy to get talked into things that are not on your list or in your budget. And friends are often uncomfortable honestly critiquing how something looks on you.
  • If you’ve had “your colors done,” always shop with your color card. You’ll be amazed how much this speeds up your shopping – you can quickly skim over the aisles. And remember to bring any item you need to match as color is key and a picture on your smartphone may not be accurate.


  • Consider the mileage and utility you’ll get. If you’re on a tight budget, every purchase counts. Can it be worn with 2 or 3 items you already own or can you wear it multiple ways? Can it be worn for multiple occasions or through multiple seasons?
  • Make sure the garment fits properly and is comfortable. Try it on, sit down in it, raise your arms overhead, cross your arms in front of you, bend over and touch your toes. Does the garment move with you or restrict your movement?
  • Check garments for maintenance requirements. Dry cleaning adds cost. Hand washing takes time. And how much do you really love to iron? Squeeze fabrics in your hand for 10 seconds to see how likely they are to wrinkle. If the fabric bounces back with few or no wrinkles, you probably won’t have to spend time ironing it.
  • Don’t buy an item just because it’s on sale. Most retailers are offering early-season discounts right now on regular priced items. A bargain is not a bargain if it isn’t you, doesn’t fit correctly, is not your best color, or doesn’t fill a legitimate gap in your wardrobe. Only buy an item on sale when it’s something that is on your list.

Do you still get stressed when choosing what to wear for work, leisure, or travel? I can help you maximize your time and your budget…and feel confident choosing what to wear to make the best impression on any occasion. 
Contact me today for a style session. Our first 30 minutes together – virtually or in person – is complimentary.



  1. Very, very well done and well said. Absolutely the best shopping advice I have ever read. I could tell the writer has years of experience behind her from the sage advice she has given. I am going to save this and read it every season as I approach my wardrobe needs.

    Susanne Nehlsen

    September 22, 2015

    • Thank you, Susanne. Yes, many years of shopping behind me and a desire to help others avoid making the mistakes I have! Good luck with your shopping plans this season.

      Leslie Willmott

      September 23, 2015

  2. Thank You for such helpful advice. I was going to shop at lunch hour to pick up a new suit but will take your advice and go shopping in my closet first. Your cautions about buying things on sale I take to heart as I do have too many “orphans” in my closet. I will take this article with me when I shop.
    Fantastic advice. THANK YOU for sharing your expertise and guidance.
    With greatest appreciation and gratitude
    Mary Whitcomb

    Mary Whitcomb

    September 23, 2015

    • You are very welcome, Mary. I’m delighted I was able to inspire you to be a smarter shopper! If you need help shopping in your closet and styling a new look, don’t hesitate to contact me for assistance via Skype or FaceTime!

      Leslie Willmott

      September 28, 2015

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