fashion ‘I’m a personal stylist and there are 7 shopping mistakes I see women make.’ Kim Crowley

Welcome to the Nothing To Wear Edit where each week we curate the best picks from the topic we spoke about on the podcast. Listen to the full episode here.

Shopping for clothes isn’t hard, we can all buy more ‘stuff’. 

I like to call it the ‘pay and pray’ approach, where we buy l-o-a-d-s of items and pray one of them will make us feel good. 

But where we’re going wrong is ending up with a cupboard full of stuff when we should be building a wardrobe full of outfits, that’s where the skill comes in. 

I’ve coined the phrase ‘Strategic Shopping’ — which is the opposite of mindless over-consumption. 

As a fashion designer turned personal stylist, I see clients waste hundreds, if not thousands of dollars every year on shopping purchases they’ve never worn that still hang in their wardrobes…and they’re still buying!

This isn’t to shame anyone as I know that successful shopping is challenging for so many reasons that we’ll discuss below (and don’t even mention the meltdowns in intimidating fitting rooms with terrible lighting, lack of staff etc!). In fact, my Personal Shopper service has become my most popular styling service.

Why? Because we never actually learn how to shop successfully. 

We just expect that we can create a wardrobe full of amazing outfits that bring us joy with no planning, strategy or help.

So as a personal stylist with over a decade’s experience, here are the seven biggest shopping mistakes my clients make complete with solutions to change the way you approach shopping for fashion. Not only will this help you get more positive shopping results, it’s what we desperately need to reduce textile waste and save during #cozzielivs. 

Buying items not outfits.

This is the biggest game changer because you can’t wear an item, only an outfit.

Even a dress needs a shoe and a bag. 


Don’t leave the shop with a new item unless you can think of at least three ways to wear it (I often push that to five outfit combos). Ask the staff what is designed to wear with that item because when I worked as a fashion designer, that’s how we designed, in full outfits. 

The skill to creating a capsule wardrobe is to maximise your purchases by mix & matching your clothing into multiple outfits. What we don’t appreciate is that so much of that outfitting is actually done during the shop.

Buying clothes that are too big (particularly when buying online & then not returning them).

This works in two ways: 

1. Thinking our size is our number.

I call this the ‘Size Spiral’ and I saw this behaviour increase massively due to COVID.

You put on a little weight, so you wear looser clothes. You look in the mirror and see yourself bigger which confirms your thought, so you buy a bigger size and lose all sense of your actual body shape and this size spiral continues. It’s like a self-fulfilling prophecy.

2. Buying clothes that are too big.

Our size is a size range and will vary from shop to shop because there are no Australian size standards, hence why sizing is all over the place. Clothes sizes are CRAZY and confusing. 


Take two sizes into the fitting room, the size you think you are and one size smaller. 

The issue with wearing clothes that are too big for us (and I’m not talking about intentionally oversized fashion styles, I’m talking about the daily clothes you live your life in) is that they’re not flattering OR versatile enough to style easily. For example, if you can’t layer your coat over your loose, chunky knit, you’ll struggle to dress in the colder weather, dressing becomes all too hard and we stick to black activewear.

Buying emotionally, when you need to shop strategically.

We eat emotionally and shop emotionally, it’s part of the human condition.


Shopping strategically means shopping with a list and sticking to it. Identifying your needs and solving those problems through clothes.

This blocks out all the overwhelm in store and helps you edit your shops well because that’s the key to successful shopping and effortless outfitting — to be good at editing.

Shopping with a strategy never sounds as sexy but trust me, what you come home with is way more exciting.

Buying things you like, but that don’t like you.

This can cover a few issues such as buying for your alter ego, not your reality ie. sky-high stilettoes when we need to run for the bus daily.

Or buying clothes seen on friends/celebrities/influencers and assuming they’ll flatter you too. For example a red dress might look amazing on your friend, but the colour overwhelms your features and the cut doesn’t suit your petite proportions.


Understanding your lifestyle needs, body shape and colouring alleviates this because once you know what flatters you, you can ignore 75 per cent of every store! This takes you from confusion to clarity, insecurity to confidence and frustration to ease. It’s literally the BEST investment you can make in yourself.

Buying ‘on sale’. Nothing’s a bargain if you don’t wear it.


Calculating your purchases by cost-per-wear is the only way to do girl math.

Say a top costs you $30 in the sale and you only wear it twice, that’s $15 per wear so that’s still an expensive purchase. Whereas if you purchase for $100 and wear it weekly for three months that’s around $8 per wear. That’s almost half the price of the ‘sale’ item.

Many clients have purchases still with tags on for clothes they don’t love — they just loved the idea of a bargain — but a bargain is only a short dopamine hit. Whereas strategically buying something more expensive that you’ll wear more frequently and for longer, that’s a much more smug long-lived dopamine hit. 

It’s also MUCH more sustainable.

Buying too many ‘one trick ponies’ when you actually need more ‘workhorses’ in your wardrobe.

One trick ponies are pieces like sequins, unique colour-blocked items etc. that can only really be worn in one way.


Think of your ‘workhorses’ as the versatile items you wear daily in different ways and when you’re building your wardrobe, ensure the ratio of ‘workhorses’ is higher than ‘one trick ponies’ so you can outfit more effortlessly. 

Colour is vital here too as certain shades create greater versatility and therefore better bang-for-buck, so I highlight these during a Colour Analysis so it’s easier to buy them, resulting in more outfit combinations.

Which brings me to my last point.

Buying the same thing over and over again.

Often this happens when we don’t know what suits us or what our style is, we end up buying the same few items we know we’ll wear, in BULK, or in black.


Reality is we don’t need five pairs of black jeans, we just need one well-fitting pair in a flattering, versatile shape. This may mean tailoring your purchase so finding a tailor you like and trust is key because we can’t expect everything off the rack to fit our unique body shape. We have to change this expectation.

This sin is also why we get bored with our wardrobe because of the lack of choice. Lots of clients that live in black, grey and white then feel like they need some colour, so they’ll go to the complete other end of the spectrum and buy a multicoloured Gorman garment with pattern and lurex and all the things on, which they wear once and then wonder what they were thinking and it sits there gathering dust for the next five years. 

Really where we want to shop is somewhere in the middle colour-wise, so maybe a pattern with a few sophisticated colours through it we’ll wear fortnightly.

So you can see that one of the main reasons you can’t shop successfully yet is because you’re missing the key information about what flatters you before you hit the shops, so you’re buying items that don’t like you, don’t fit your body — or pair together!

No wonder so many women loathe shopping.

Stealing my shopping strategy will help you shop with confidence and invest more wisely, resulting in the paradox we all want: to create more outfits from less clothes. 

Feature Image: Instagram @style.sense.

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