Shopping Guide 101

If there is one thing everyone is looking out for during year end (other than awaiting the new year), it would most probably be the islandwide SALE put up practically by all the big names of the retail industry. Well, for me it was certainly no exception as my friends on Twitter set the hype by proclaiming the SALE period of ZARA, TOPMAN, A|X, Pull And Bear and other retail outlets.

But hold your horses! Before we all go on a mad frenzy, here are some tips to help us all make the best out of the SALE, our wallets and our closet. I applied this guide (that I learnt through the mistakes that I have committed in the past, haha) last Saturday at my shopping spree in the retail hotspot we all affectionately call Orchard Road. I am no shopping guru but I hope these small tips will serve you well just as it did for me!

1. Buy only the things that you like and suits you

Sounds rather dumb to list this as a tip, ain’t it? But no. More often than that, many of us avid shoppers make a mad rush to purchase something on the first sight of the S word (SALE). And when we pick up that piece of fabric, though we did not particularly like this design nor do we think that it suits our [body shape, complexion, colortone, etc] but because of the novelty of the brand and because it was the SALE period, we stand at that retail space, trying to CONVINCING ourselves that it will look good on us. As the saying goes, “There is power in confession”. In the end, we managed to convince ourselves that that piece of fabric will look good on us, bought it – only to leave it tucked in one corner of our wardrobe without even cutting out the price tag! Best of all, many don’t learn their lesson!

As such, only buy the things that you like and even when you like that product, make sure it suits you! The tip from me is, if you like the looks of it from the shelves, tried it on, still liked it, then buy it. Don’t waste money trying to convince yourself that it will look good on you. That money can be better utilized for a better buy.

2. Try it on, Always

One of the first and prolonged fashion mistake I’ve made in the past was to buy clothes on impulse without trying them on. Here are a range of problems that can happen if you don’t try the merchandise on.

#1 You might have picked the wrong size.
Guys especially, we need to pick something that fits our shoulders. Baggy is not cool FYI! (Unless you’re a dancer or hippie…)
#2 You fail to identify the right color.
It has been proven by fashion experts that not everybody is suited for the popular monotone colors; black and white. And that cannot be further emphasized for the other colors. These, one will never identify if one doesn’t try on da clothes.
#3 It might not fit you afterall.
After admiring that product for a short (or long) while, you decided to buy it only to hate it when you try it on at home. Happens, right? Just because tha clothing looked nice on Brad Pitt DOESN’T mean it will look good on you! We are all uniquely made (meaning there is only one YOU in this world!), so stay true to yourself, and your style.

Even if the salesperson seemed upset that you are taking a longer time to complete the purchase or might not even buy that product anyway, try it on anyway. At the end of the day, you’re the one parting with the cash, not them. If they have opinions about you trying the product out, leave the store. Why bother to be upset with these people when spending your hard-earned cash?

3. Do not go for something that you have seen others worn

This is one major mistake that I continue to make till today (though very little!). Imagine this scenario; you see this fellow walking down the streets with this suave top or knockout dress (for the ladies), and you found the shop that sold the exact replica and bought it immediately. At a friend’s birthday party, you turn out excitedly in that new purchase only to find another 2 person with the EXACT SAME clothing! Worse still, the Birthday boy/girl is also wearing that piece of clothing!! One word sums up the whole evening; AWKWARD.

Also, don’t pick something that looked nice and cheap at the same time. Take IP Zone for example. I must emphasize that MANY YEARS AGO I thought (Don’t laugh at me) that they came out with some interesting designs at a super affordable cost few years back. As such, I bought the top only to find like almost every Singaporean (exaggeration) wearing that top! I have never worn it since. And today, it’s an antique in my wardrobe.

So if you know what’s good for you, don’t pick something that everybody else has, is on dirt cheap rate, or you know a friend already has. Unless that fellow is your boyfriend/girlfriend.

4. Make a budget

Unless you’re Bill Gates’ distant relative, don’t just walk into ZARA or A|X buying everything up and having to live on scraps of bread (or eat grass, Chinese saying) for the next one month. As the saying goes, ‘If you fail to plan, you plan to fail’. Last Saturday, I walked into ZARA to try on the tees that were going on sale. Though I really liked a few, I made a decision to not spend above $100 there. And I kept to my budget and because of that, I can still go shopping at other retail stores, eat at fine places and not to forget, online shopping!

I personally feel whether one is rich or not, we all need to pick up the habit of spending wisely. Ever wondered why those lottery winners loot are reduced to zero within a few years?

Make a budget and you will be a happy man (or woman).

5. Travelling to less-exclusive places

Just because this particular mall is more ‘glamorous’ doesn’t mean it (stills) carries the products that you want. I’m not sure about other countries, but I am very sure that the retail stores in Singapore carries the same product be it if you patronized a store in Jurong or the branch outlet on the other end of Singapore. And during days like this (SALE period), what are the chances that people will flock to places like ION Orchard to splurge? And what are the chances that these people will take a liking to what you would have liked in the store? 99.99% if you ask me!

In fact, the 2 tops I’ve acquired came from the ZARA at Takashimaya, not ION Orchard! Since they carry the same product anyway, why travel and squeeze with the crowd at places like ION Orchard when you can buy those products at a mall closer to your home?

6. Quality over Cost

Years ago, I remembered eyeing this decent looking pair of jeans at Bugis Street. It was also going at a good price; $25. Though it was pretty cheap, the quality quickly showed why. As my legs frequently step on the jeans (unintentionally), one day there was a huge tear at the bottom of one side of the jeans! The length of the jeans became lob-sided. Though I still wear it today (don’t go looking at my jeans thank you very much!), I prefer not to wear it unless my other jeans do not fit the top I am wearing for the day.

One question will always pop up in our minds, Quality over Cost? A good piece of clothing is not just determined by its branding but also its workmanship. As the saying goes, ‘If you pay bananas, you get monkeys’.

 What’s cheap may not be cost-effective. In terms of durability and ‘payback period’, buying a pair of jeans from Levi’s (for example) will definitely be more worth it in the long run compared to getting a pair of $25 jeans which MAY be able to last a couple of years. It would be a wiser investment and you would be in fact be saving more, by spending more. Back then, I made a huge mistake. But if I were to have this realize this earlier, I would definitely choose the former without a shadow of a doubt. And you should too!


Been to those shops that tell you ‘SALE, buy product and get 2nd piece at 50% off’? The immediate natural response is to buy two pieces of clothing, which all this is a very natural reaction. But what if you only found one that you liked? Would you force yourself to pick another, just so that you can ‘save’ more? Do not make the mistake of forcing yourself to pick another product just to get the discount! If you don’t get it, you won’t even need to pay the extra cash!

And spending lesser from discounts does NOT equal to saving more.

So do yourself a favor, don’t buy things that you don’t like, unless you are also looking for a birthday present for your friend.. LOL. (I hope I don’t have friends like that!)

Alright that sums up the lists of my personal shopping guide and checklist. Hope that helped somebody. Of course, these tips are not absolutes, but also based on case-by-case basis. Oh btw, I walked ION Orchard and Far East and Taka and only bought 2 ZARA tops and a belt from Far East! 🙂 I hope that you have picked up something new from this entry that will make your next shopping experience a good one. Thanks for reading and have a Happy New Year! 😀

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