June 11th, 2015
On My Mind

Shopping Rules

After I cleaned out my closet and made a short list of items that I need, I started to think about how I shop. More to the point—how is it that, although I have a fashion site, I don’t over-shop or have loads of things that I regret buying? Perhaps I can credit the few shopping rules that I’ve followed forever and swear by:

1. If I love something and KNOW that it’s a forever piece, I buy it immediately.

2. Buy two identical items if I think I’ll be wearing them often (usually jeans, tops, and summer dresses).

3. Always buy one in black.

4. Buy one fashion-forward item each season and wear it to death. Then give it away.

5. I don’t wait for the sales. I buy at the front end of the season, then I’m guaranteed to get the things I want. Sale is for those fun and unexpected items that make me feel like I’ve won the fashion lottery.

6. I shop heavily from resort and pre-fall, I find the best and most wearable pieces in these collections.

7. Shop online so things can be returned if I change my mind. I hate a “no return” or “store credit only” policy.

8. Buy basic evening and wear repeatedly by changing up the shoes and accessories. I wore an inexpensive navy silk sheath to both of my daughter’s debutante balls with two different pairs of Valentino shoes and my good jewelry. No one noticed, wasn’t about me.

9. It’s all about the underpinnings—bras that fit and flatter, petals, slips, camisoles, and tanks.

10. Tailoring and maintenance are key. Just about every piece of clothing I buy gets tweaked by my brilliant seamstress. I keep everything clean and maintained and ready to wear—no holes, stains, or loose buttons.

Did I forget anything?

SHOP

what's new

CHLOÉ

Silk scarf black

CHLOÉ

Leather jacket

CHLOÉ

Ankle boots

ACNE STUDIOS

Shearling-lined jacket

VINCE

Washed-satin skirt

VALENTINO

Embellished pumps

CHLOÉ

Silk scarf

MISSONI

Wrap

VALENTINO

Velvet sandals

SACAI

Wool skirt

VALENTINO

Denim ankle boots

J.W.ANDERSON

Leather shoulder bag

view all

  • great shopping advice!

    #trishpickJune 11th, 2015  10:39 AM

     
  • Brava Preston! That is such great advice, I’m going to print it out.

    Catherine (California)June 11th, 2015  10:49 AM

     
  • You are GOOD! I love #8. Regarding #9, what’s a petal?

    Tori MordecaiJune 11th, 2015  10:52 AM

     
  • Great list of shopping rules! I abide by all of them. My only addition is taking good care of shoes, a cobbler is as almost as important as a seamstress. Replace heels as needed, put rubber toppies on soles before wearing, etc, etc.
    thank you, Preston

    JulieJune 11th, 2015  10:58 AM

     
  • Great advice. I also agree with becoming acquainted with a cobbler for shoes, bags and other leather repairs.

    AprilJune 11th, 2015  11:27 AM

     
  • Great list of “rules” for shopping. I have learned the hard way that it is best to buy one item that I really love at full price, that fits well and is versatile, than 3 litems on sale that are compromises.

    RebeccaJune 11th, 2015  11:28 AM

     
  • Rubber on the soles is a must and has extended the wear of all of my shoes, especially Belgian loafers.

    PrestonJune 11th, 2015  11:30 AM

     
  • FABULOUS advice and I have learned so much from you! In my younger years I would hit the sales hard. I had a SA that would send me boxes of merchandise from NYC flagship store. I would keep most of it – it was such a “deal”. The pieces I planned for and bought early are my most loved pieces and forever pieces. The “deals” are mostly LONG gone. I sent a big box of ill fitted items to a consignment store this week. These are pieces I adored, but never fit correctly – mostly “deal” pieces. Why keep? Now I buy a few pieces also from resort or pre fall. And I eye sale only for pieces I wanted before and hit the “lottery” (this season the raw denim Chloe shorts), but may have missed full price.

    MaryBJune 11th, 2015  11:50 AM

     
  • do you have a seamstress that you would recommend in NY?
    thank you!
    jennie

    jennieJune 11th, 2015  12:14 PM

     
  • Excellent! I love this list of advice – very good points. Thank you!

    Carrie from www.itsdroolworthy.comJune 11th, 2015  12:22 PM

     
  • Excellent advice. Do you have any advice on the best bras?

    ShawnJune 11th, 2015  12:45 PM

     
  • Just fabulous advice, as usual! Always buy one in black is my personal favorite!

    DaphneJune 11th, 2015  12:54 PM

     
  • Could recommend a good brand of petals?

    JustinaJune 11th, 2015  1:17 PM

     
  • Great advice, as always. Twice a year, in preparation for the warm and cold season, I take stock of my closet and the current feel of fashion at the time as well as what I think will be macro trends in the coming years. I challenge myself to adjust my eye (I think you use this phrase) and determine ways I can make small updates to my closet so it feels fresh but not carried away by a whole trend. I tend to update with accessories (less expensive), shoes (need to be replaced more frequently anyway) and minor tailoring or wearing things I own differently. And, quality over quantity- I buy fewer items and wear them into the ground. Some may prefer or require more variety, but if I love a piece I’ll wear it all the time.

    Sara G.June 11th, 2015  2:49 PM

     
  • All such good advice. I will say, that since I started following KiC and you, I have stopped impulse buys and consider each purchase much more carefully. The only thing (for me) is to really wear my stuff and not keep “saving” it for some occasion. When I do that, I often tire of it and don’t get enough use out of it, but you sort of covered that with #4.

    KathyJune 11th, 2015  3:27 PM

     
  • Thank you for posting this. It is such a thoughtful list. It will help me as I clean out my closet(s). It’s time to re-think the wisdom of “deals” that always seem to end up in the giveaway box.

    JennyJune 11th, 2015  3:59 PM

     
  • Great advice. I have lived by #’s 1, 5, 6, 8, and 10, and also believe in quality over quantity. Bottega has an in-house repair service for their bags. I needed it once, and they did a beautiful job. I would only add using The Laundress products for maintenance, and avoid dry cleaning at all cost.

    PaulaJune 11th, 2015  4:57 PM

     
  • I couldn’t agree with you more on tip #1. Anything that I buy immediately has to be something that will look just as fabulous to me as the day I first bought it. And tip #3 is great as well!

    -The Office Stylist

    The Office StylistJune 11th, 2015  5:54 PM

     
  • Best bras,any advice??

    MargaretJune 11th, 2015  6:01 PM

     
  • Preston (and her readers), this is the kind of great counsel that keeps me coming back to the blog! Thank you all, and I agree with the “adds” about having a good cobbler, and using Laundress products to avoid the dry cleaner. I’d add: nurture a relationship with a great (50%+ share of sales) consignment store for the few mistakes that sneak in (I’ve had great experiences with The RealReal). Preston and Justina, I assume you are referring to breast petals, which give a smooth look under knits and sheers (noone answered Tori’s question)? If so, Nordstrom has a house brand of silicone petals and other lingerie accessories that are fabulous, washable, and come in a carrying case for travel.

    Lisa MacJune 11th, 2015  9:28 PM

     
  • Here is my suggestion to Margaret’s question regarding the bras – do try Eres. This is my go-to brand for lingerie and swimming suits. Since I discovered it I have never looked back.

    ZivileJune 12th, 2015  4:35 AM

     
  • The best advice I can give about bras is to be properly fitted. For years I thought that I was one size, but I was actually another. I use silicone petals under evening wear and white tunics.

    Going to try The Laundress, thank you for recommending (again)!

    PrestonJune 12th, 2015  4:52 AM

     
  • Any chance you’d be willing to share the name of your brilliant seamstress in New York?

    LizJune 12th, 2015  5:52 AM

     
  • My brilliant seamstress, Veronica, is out in Locust Valley, sorry. I haven’t used anyone in the city in years. I’ll ask around for recommendations.

    PrestonJune 12th, 2015  5:59 AM

     
  • Just to add one social-conscious note to your wonderful list- know where your clothing comes from and how it was made! Loving a piece that you will wear forever is twice as great if you know it was made well in a socially conscious atmosphere…taking ownership of the whole process before putting on that terrific piece of clothing goes a long way …

    SheriJune 12th, 2015  6:18 AM

     
  • I like your list very much, so much that I’d like to publish it on my own Blog and, if you don’t mind add a few things to it. May I? Of course I will write the source.

    E.June 12th, 2015  6:56 AM

     
  • Love a good tip list! 11.30pm in Australia and now all I can think about it doing a big closet cull.

    OliviaJune 12th, 2015  8:18 AM

     
  • Wow, awesome list! Thanks for sharing.

    Karen DJune 12th, 2015  8:53 AM

     
  • Great tips and advice! Now just need a list of your must have items in your closet so we can do clean outs this summer! Thank you!

    JenniferJune 12th, 2015  9:08 AM

     
  • Great list. I think I do some of that and I really like that you’ve broken down the pieces that build up to smart shopping.

    What’s your this-summer piece, if I may ask?

    LisaJune 12th, 2015  9:13 AM

     
  • The Céline platforms are my spring fashion-forward item, even though they were from last fall. I’ve been wearing them with white jeans as I run around. The SS15 Céline tan ballerinas, too. Now that I think about it, I buy more runway (fashion statement) pieces in the fall.

    PrestonJune 12th, 2015  9:45 AM

     
  • Curious (if you do know yet) what your fashion forward fall item will be?

    KathyJune 12th, 2015  9:58 AM

     
  • This is fantastic! Such a brilliant list – I think you’ve covered everything, Preston.

    That's Not My AgeJune 12th, 2015  12:29 PM

     
  • Zivile great advice and thanks Preston -good tip!

    MargaretJune 12th, 2015  1:33 PM

     
  • And yet another one of my favorite posts!!!! Thank you for such a excellent fashion wisdom!

    VeronikaJune 12th, 2015  1:34 PM

     
  • Great list Preston and I love all the comments. Preston how do you realize you love something and it’s a forever piece? Is that feeling absolutely instant? I’m hearing a bit lately about certain classic things still having a use by date. That news may or may not be true but it struck fear into my heart. Can you please offer your guidance? Justine

    JustineJune 12th, 2015  5:33 PM

     
  • Great article. However, unlike your #5 and 8, I often find great ‘forever’ basic pieces in the pre-sales along with great evening wear. I find that I buy fewer and fewer pieces at full price and what I buy at full price price are shoes, boots and handbags.

    MMSJune 13th, 2015  3:24 AM

     
  • Fantastic list full of common sense as is everything you bring to us. When I shop I choose what I really adore and I have the 5 year test in my mind. Will I still love it in 5 years? Okay let’s go! That includes a skirt from Zara or my beloved camel coat from Celine from a few seasons back. I would say that half my closet is full of clothes that are at least 20 years old or older and I still adore every piece. Therefore I don’t shop that much but I’m into the care of my clothes and shoes in a huge way. I learned this from my mother. Her look was the Great American Sportswear look of the 70’s. Very Grace Mirabella when she was at the helm of American Vogue. Lots of John Anthony, Beene, Calvin Klein, Anne Klein, Bill Blass, loads of denim and Ferragamo shoes and boots. These garments have now been passed to me and I wear them regularly so they require a great deal of care to last my lifetime. I do replace my cashmere sweaters, t shirts, and button downs and the rest when needed and buy things in 2’s and 3’s as you suggested. And as for sales, if I don’t want it at full price then I won’t want it at a discount.

    RTGJune 13th, 2015  6:34 AM

     
  • Stopping by KiC is a daily must for me; I learn so much from you. Thank you, Preston. I also enjoy all the generous advise and comments from all your readers. I would love to see a post on a similar subject – tips & tricks about diet / lifestyle regimen and what rules do you offer to keep “fashionably” fit.

    InesJune 13th, 2015  12:06 PM

     
  • Preston’s list is one to live by and will help any woman build a wardrobe she adores and one that is for keeps! Like RTG, easily 90% of my closet is 10-15-20-25 years old. Casual, run around items turn over more quickly, but for everything else, I only buy things I love and that are meant to last, and with good care they do. This means you can’t change dress/pant size over the years, but what better motivation to stay fit? I take extremely good care of my clothing primarily because they are very difficult to replace, at any price. I apply the same philosophy to my closet as I do the rest of my home.

    PaulaJune 14th, 2015  12:54 AM

     
  • Great article!
    Would you happen to know of a brilliant seamstress in Manhattan , have yet to find one –
    CoCo

    CCJune 14th, 2015  4:12 AM

     
  • Great list. My addition would be not to save my favorite items for “special occasions.” I would rather wear a favorite piece many times, than save it, looking for the best occasion to try out for the first time.
    I also buy at the beginning of the season, and use sales to stock up on basics( great time for leather items, jeans and tees) or over the top items I might not buy at full price.
    Where I differ is with evening wear. I LOVE a printed long evening gown or a printed/beaded evening pant. I have a pair of pastel brocade Dries pants that have become my go to spring evening look. I don’t wear a lot of print( or much color) otherwise, almost never buy a printed top.

    EBJune 14th, 2015  7:25 PM

     
  • Your rules are literally perfect. You know, you should definitely write a book, your advice are always well-thought and clever x

    http://www.pardonmyobsession.com/

    CarolineJune 15th, 2015  9:14 AM

     
  • Late response which may go unnoticed but I hope someone can address my query. What is wrong with drycleaning? I invest in quality items and look after my clothes – or so I’d thought… Many of my clothes are years old. I’m the same size and buy classic style. I’ve never noticed damage from drycleaning.

    PetrinaJune 15th, 2015  1:08 PM

     
  • I am reading this post late. This advice is right on. Peppino Tailors in the low 60’s on Lexington is excellent. They are on the second floor above the old Gino’s restaurant (which is sadly now a cupcake shop). They deliver for free, are reasonably priced, have been in the business of tailoring for ages and are serious about their craft with an absence of pretension.

    Blakely GriggsSeptember 19th, 2015  12:18 AM

     

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