Find Your Signature Style, Finale: Shop Smarter

Find your signature style: shop smarter. We’ve been following the RealSimple article, Define Your Signature Style. You can find Parts 1-3 here, here and here. We’ve found our favorite items, analyzed our mistakes, and identified the missing pieces. Today, we Shop Smarter! (Never too late for smarter, right? I didn’t marry my dream man till I was 46, so I may be late out of the gate but I get there.)

Here’s the article:

Take your lists of likes, dislikes, and needs and head to the mall [my note: preferably the thrifts, or Etsy, or Poshmark] . But before opening your wallet, run through this checklist to determine whether a piece will last the long haul. This may seem tedious, but if it prevents pricey mistakes, it’s worth the effort, right? After a while, you’ll automatically ask yourself these questions. The more an item costs, the more seriously you want to consider these factors.

  • Will it work with your lifestyle?
  • Where will you wear it? Ideally, this is a place you go every week or month.
  • Does it coordinate with at least three other pieces in your wardrobe?
  • Can you wear it year-round? Imagine it with tights, a sweater, or open-toe shoes.
  • Can you picture yourself wearing it next season? Next year? In five years?
  • Will the effort of hand washing or dry-cleaning prevent you from wearing it regularly?
  • Is it good quality?


So I’ve identified the silhouettes, colors and fabrics that work best for me. I know my shopping blind spots (I think!). I want to shop smarter, have fewer wardrobe mistakes, and enjoy every piece in the closet. This last step is about the financial aspect of wardrobing.

Budget-wise, the key question for me is not “can I afford it?”; usually I can because I shop in reasonable marketplaces. It’s more “Is it worth it?”.  I don’t mind experimenting with fun pieces for a few dollars, then re-cycling them to family or thrifts. Most skirts, accessories and casual tops fall into this category.

But for Big Stuff, like shoes, boots, signature dresses, “real” jewelry, good leather bags, I try to answer the above questions. My wardrobe needed a cashmere pullover, so I went through the steps and finally bought one like this:

Love the rich color and the fit, and I adore this store. Quince.

This sweater is a big yes to the questions above (I can wear it year-round once we start going back to NYC). I could have bought several lesser-quality sweaters, and that’s what I did for decades. I would like but not love them, and they would often pill or pull or fade. So I made, for moi, a Shop Smarter decision.

Wear these Queen Bee earrings any time to add attitude.
I’d splurge on these shiny lace-ups.

What say you all? Do you have any interest in investment-dressing, cost-per-wear, Shop Smarter philosophies? Do you segregate your purchases, like I do, into Small Stuff and Big Stuff?

Over to you: Love to hear from you about this. And I hope you’ve enjoyed this series, just for the pure fun of playing in our closets!

Stay fabulous, xo

Wear what you love, always. Here are some goodies to browse:


Please be aware that links to vendors may be affiliate links. I may benefit from your purchases through the links on the blog. Header photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash.

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  1. Patti,
    How do you like the Quince clothing? I haven’t ordered anything from them and am thinking of doing so. If returns have to be made – are they easy and free?

    • Hi Amy! I love, love Quince clothing. I have several silk skirts, tanks, linen pants, and these heavy cotton sweaters. The quality has always been top-notch and the fit is true to size for me. I haven’t returned anything! so I don’t know about the ease of returns. Thanks for coming over and have a wonderful day, xx.

  2. Seems like the pandemic has helped me narrow down what really works for me. Thinking ahead to 5 years is a great idea. It’s easy to fall victim to accepting less than quality in order just to get the look right now. I don’t end up keeping those things. Love those red boots. I just bought a pair from Vionic!

    • Hi Joni and thanks for your comments! Oh, congrats on your new red boots – wear them with a smile : > Have a great weekend, xx.

  3. Identifying the holes in my wardrobe was the hardest thing–which is probably good. I could use a jacket to polish some of my outfits. Not a blazer, exactly, I’d have to do some looking for a style. I could also use a non-denim skirt (lol!). I tend to “invest” in long sleeve tops–I. recently got a Farm Rio one for Christmas–as they tend to get worn to death!
    One piece of advice I’d give to denim wearers is to every so often buy a new cut of jeans. I recently got a distressed, stove pipe leg with cuff (they were on sale in a brand I know fits well) and they make all of my tops feel more updated.

    • Hi Kimberly, good to see you. You have some fun shopping ahead, and your new jeans sound cool – I love a cuffed hem. Have a beautiful day, xx.

  4. Great advice thank you. Rodin is one of my favorite artists and his depiction of Dante as the thinker is always such a lovely reminder of his talent. I am still in the browsing stage and very much appreciate your goody site for just right lovely stylish fun suggestions. I really like that blue fog Nordstrom sweater this post.

    • Good morning Joan and thanks for coming over. I love that description “blue fog”. Have a wonderful day, xx.

  5. cashmere sweaters and ankle boots seem to be the backbone of my wardrobe, at least for Fall and Winter.

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