asked and answered: a style smorgasbord

{What? That’s totally how you spell “smorgasbord”. I Googled it.}

Good morning, friends! It’s time for another installment of “Asked and Answered,” and this one’s a doozie. One of you lovely readers sent me a whole pile of excellent questions – I think she’d been saving them up! – so I thought I’d knock them out all at once.  So, from the very stylish Alexis, here we go:

How do you keep up with tracking all of the fashion trends. From blogs to catalogs to fashion shows and new designers, how do you keep your research in check without staying up 24/7?

I used to be more obsessed with trends than I am now. If lace was in, I *had* to get a lace tee, stat. But I think the more time I spend learning about fashion, the more I realize that trends are boring. The last thing I want to be wearing is exactly what everyone else is wearing. Stepping out of the box is much more fun. Plus, keeping track of which heel height is en vogue at the moment is a full time job in itself.

So, rather than trends, I keep track of style. I avoid street style blogs like the plague (serious information overload), but I follow a couple of style blogs that are comfortable (Atlantic-Pacific and Garance Doré), and a couple that push my comfort zone a bit (Man Repeller and Le Fashion). I save looks I love in Pinterest, so I can go back for reference. When I see a look in a magazine that I love, I pin it up on an inspiration board in my dining room office (more on that later). Every so often, I take a look through – and trends just kind of emerge. Or at least, trends that I love. The rest falls away. Right now on my boards, it’s all about printed pants, flat loafers and the ’20s.

If you really want to get serious about tracking what’s hot, Vogue Collections is my secret weapon. It comes out after the runway shows every season, and gives me a reference of every single look from every major collection shown at Fashion Week – right down to the accessories. I love to spend some time looking through and deciding for myself what the trends are, and what to do with them. For instance, peplums. Huge for spring, but I’ll be ignoring them entirely. Unless you’re built like a boy, it’s a terrible idea.

There are so many flash sale sites these days. If you could only subscribe to one, what would it be?

Gilt. Hands down. Best customer service, best return policies, best brands. MyHabit would be my second choice. And honestly, I’ve unsubscribed to everything else. It’s just sensory overload, and I end up buying piles of things I don’t need and can’t return.

Overall, I really don’t like online shopping (returning is SUCH a pain) but shopping isn’t great where I live and I don’t have a lot of time. Any tips for becoming a better online shopper?

Yes! I am a chronic returner (ask anyone who knows me), but I’ve gotten better at knowing the good from the bad. A few things I’ve learned:

  1. Check the measurements. And believe them. If the measurements say the pants have an 8″ rise, but you know you’re better off in a 9″, don’t convince yourself they look like they hit the model in the right spot, so they’ll probably be great.
  2. Speaking of measurements, if they don’t offer, ask. I’ve been known to call online retailers and ask them to pull an item off the shelf and measure it for me. I’ve never been told no – and I’ve saved myself plenty of heartache. Sure, it makes you kind of a difficult customer – but then, so does returning 3/4 of what you buy.
  3. Take a closer look. Use those zoom features, check out the details closely, and make sure your sale goggles are nowhere to be found. Is that blouse tucked in, or is there an elastic waist situation going on? Is that a zipper on the ankle of those pants? Does the fabric look stiff or relaxed? Is the whiskering on that denim going to drive you crazy? If an item is black, look at the same piece in a lighter color if it’s available, so you can really see the details.
  4. Get to know your favorite brands, and be loyal. I have brands I’ll buy from sample sale sites because I know how their pieces fit. And others that I won’t. And I’m very, very conscious of the difference. If you don’t know the brand, it might be better to try in person first.
  5. Google. Look around for other sites selling the same piece – both for pricing purposes and to get better images. A lot of smaller boutiques don’t have the budget for big photo shoots, so their images might be awful. Rely on the big box stores for the best pictures, then go back to that little boutique’s site to buy.
  6. Check return policies. Thoroughly. If I can’t return something, I think very, very seriously before clicking “Buy”, no matter how good the deal is.

Got a question? Tell me all about it! editor{at}shoppingsmycardio{dot}com.

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3 comments on “asked and answered: a style smorgasbord

  1. la petite maison

    These are wonderful tips, Becki! I’ve gotten better at editing my fashion wishlist every season, and it helps when one is not slave to seasonal trends. I used to get the Vogue Collections from Borders Books (r.i.p.), but have never seen them in the other book shops in town.

  2. ellie

    This is an AWESOME post! I love your information. I consider myself a fairly savvy online shopper/trend analyzer, but you take the cake girl!

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