Wardrobe 101

What’s Your Shopping Style?

Find Out Your Shopping M.O…

Happy day, reader dearest!

I hope your week has been full of only the most pleasant of surprises… If you are holiday shopping, I pray it has been going smoothly! Do you find shopping to be a pleasure or a chore? Contrary to popular belief/memes, not all women love shopping, and not all men hate it! I have clients who are happy to let me shop, others who want to shop for themselves with a list we work out, and still others who would rather shop at will and regularly purge during an Wardrobe Audit. These three are all manifestations of different Shopping Styles. Shopping Styles and Spending Styles are not the same thing, although there are some correlations and connections. Not surprisingly, Spending Style and Shopping Style often have their roots in our family’s attitude toward shopping and spending, and how that played out whilst we were growing up.

Shopping Planner

The Shopping Planner tends toward analysis and/or control. His or her wardrobe is part of a “Plan your work and work your plan.” approach. Shopping Planner thinks big picture, “What do I need and want?”, and makes a list, then checks it twice. The Planner may shop on-line to find the best deals, or to make the in-store shopping more productive, or may not worry about price at all, because the goal is fulfilling the plan. (This is where the Spending Style part comes in!)


Shopping Planner often has an awesome budget! Planners rarely get carried away by over-shopping and the credit card hangover that can ensue. The Planner also has an edge when it comes to building a cohesive and workable wardrobe. Planners don’t often end up with a wardrobe stuffed with never-wears, unless they fall for someone else’s list of Must-Haves rather than staying true to themselves.


Even with the financial and sartorial pluses, the Planner can find him or herself frustrated when what’s on The Plan is nowhere to be found. It may be the wrong season, or simply not available. Maybe Planner needs a yellow sweater, but yellow just isn’t “in” this year. If the plan is rigid, he or she may end up with some serious gaps in the closet!  A Planner can easily fall prey to “analysis paralysis,” or overthinking which option to choose. Many planners are also perfectionists; when given the choice between three blue sweaters, they can make themselves crazy over which to choose. Planner can be so stuck to the plan (or play it so safe) that he or she can miss out on the fun of style, and an amazing wardrobe addition because, well, it wasn’t on the plan. Sometimes Planner needs to learn to relax and give up a little control for a better shopping experience and wardrobe.

Serendipity Shopper

The Serendipity Shopper is often more relaxed and “mood” driven. “What do I feel like, today?” could be his or her shopping mantra. How can you shop with a plan or list when you don’t know what you are going to like? This doesn’t mean that Serendipity heads to the shops mindlessly! Frequently there is a general guideline. “I need a dress for Cousin Martha’s wedding.”


Mr. or Ms. Serendipity’s flexibility allows him or her the freedom to experiment with trends and seasonal variations. If “I need a sweater.” is the reason for a trip to the store, chances are a sweater will be there! If the definition of success for a shopping trip is finding something, then the Serendipity Shopper is pretty much guaranteed success. But if the definition is narrower, there may be trouble! Serendipity often enjoys shopping more than the Planner, since seeing what’s out there is often part of the fun. He or she is more likely to shop with friends or family as a social event. (Shopping with others can drive Planner bananas! “Why are you looking at things you don’t need?”)


Serendipity Shopper can also run into trouble. Buying what appeals at the moment can leave Serendipity with a closet full of awesome clothes, and not a lot of outfits to wear. When I find lots of Wardrobe Orphans in a client’s closet, I can usually predict that he or she is a Serendipity Shopper. Serendipity usually shops more often, and may require multiple trips to solve a wardrobe dilemma, like needing an outfit for a special event. Often Serendipity doesn’t know how much he or she spends on clothes, because pieces are picked up here and there, and not tracked. That may or may not be a problem, depending on spending style and budget! Setting some boundaries, like buying only within a color palette to mitigate color mish-mash, or setting a dollar or item number limit can help prevent some of the closet chaos to which Serendipity can be prone.

The Good News!

You are not trapped by your default style. Both of these shopping styles are skills that have been learned and can be relearned! My natural inclination is to be the Impulse Purchaser. I’m a magpie who loves to collect pretty things, but years of living on a very tight budget taught me to be a planner. Now, I try to work a balance of the two. I plan and set boundaries, and leave some room for serendipity. If planned serendipity is an oxymoron, so be it!

How about you? Are you more of a Planner, or an Serendipity Shopper? What kinds of issues has your shopping style created in your closet? Please share your thoughts in the comments below…

Stylishly yours,


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