14 Shopping Mistakes That Always Make Us Cringe

Any fashion editor will tell you the same thing: They hardly ever go shopping. Now, whether that’s a truth or just a warped comparison in a world where we spend quite a great deal of time perusing products for our readers (and occasionally, accidentally, subconsciously purchasing stuff along the way) is up for debate. I’d agree that I don’t really go shopping very often. I might head out if there’s a special occasion coming up (like when you’re searching for that ultimate wedding-guest dress) or ahead of fashion week’s demanding outfit schedule, but I’ve learnt enough over the years to make my shopping jaunts—no matter how big or small, frequent or infrequent—worth it. I’ve had the phases where everything I’ve bought has been unworn, left to languish at the back of a closet with moth sachets and the tags still left on, but no more, my friends. 

These days I buy items that I get heaps of wear out of. These days I manage to look after my clothes and make the most of them. These days I would consider myself to be a pretty effective shopper—and that would probably explain why I’m often hired by friends and family to assist them in their fashion quests (only yesterday was I helping my mum’s BF locate her perfect winter coat, which we did in less than half an hour). So if you’ve ever wanted to know how to shop like a fashion editor—and to sidestep the cringeworthy mistakes I’ve made in the past—I think I’ve got the answers. Follow my step-by-step method below, then keep going to see the items I’d ideally buy right now if I weren’t so busy typing.
We like to think that here at Who What Wear UK, we do a lot of the research for you (see our specific guides to important things such as the very best basics your money can buy or our edit of great winter coats, but otherwise, I would encourage you to research before making important purchases (no matter what their cost). For example, I’ve been pining for a pair of “old” Celine boots—the ones with the curvy heel and the toe-cap. I was an idiot to not buy them when they were available but the cost and the worry that they’d date (which they haven’t yet) held me back. I gathered all of my alternative options before making settling on a leather pair from Uterque (particularly because I know that the brand’s footwear is made in Spain in one of the few high-quality leather factories that still exists in that part of the world), and they are now in my wardrobe and ready to go. Okay, so they aren’t the real deal but they’re a chic enough, good-quality homage.
A perfectly fab alternative.
When buying a more out-there piece (like this jumper), take it home and try it on with a few pieces before cutting the tags out. I’m currently debating this exact piece—I love it, but does it go with enough in my wardrobe?
If you love something—like how I adore this Chloé bag—sometimes you don’t want someone else’s opinion.
These are the kind of fun party shoes you don’t have to buy from a really expensive brand.
Talking of the high street, my tactic for getting the most out of it is to buy simple items. That doesn’t mean they have to be boring or plain, but I tend to steer clear of recognisable printed pieces as they can date and you’re more likely to be turn up to brunch in the same Zara dress as your best friend (which does, I admit, make for a genius Instagram shot).
Arket is my new destination for pared-back high-street winners.
Cult Gaia’s much-loved bamboo bags are a very good example—you’ll find the price of their styles can vary by up to £50 depending on the retailer, their mark-up margins and imports/duties tied to their location.
Vestiaire Collective is a great place to sell your clothes online, but just try to resist all of the great designer vintage pieces.
There are two ways I keep track of new brands: 1) bookmarking images on Instagram (particularly from Scandi girls) and routinely checking back to recall what I’ve noticed it and 2) keeping a rolling list on my iPhone of brands to look into. So if you’re ever feeling a little short of inspo, you can either enforce those rules in your own life or just keep coming back to Who What Wear, where we often round up the best new labels on the block. See the Instagram labels we’ve just discovered, for example.
I discovered this Danish brand via Nnenna Echem (pictured above) and have fallen for its quirky ideas, like this satin pleated skirt.
I have the Lou Jeans in two washes now, and I’m pretty set on getting another pair…
We’re all a bit obsessed with Ghost dresses in the office, and very set on not saving them for best.
When the sample sale calendar dries up, keep The Outnet on your online must-visit list.
Because slip skirts can really vary—and Topshop have so many slightly different versions—it’s a good idea to try different sizes and fabrics then land on your favourite.
When looking at summer, midseason and Christmas sales, I always end up scouring a few unusual, under-the-radar boutiques such at LN-CC, Moda Operandi or Ssense. You’ll find some larger reductions (as these sites are frequented less than the obvious e-commerce giants like Net-a-Porter or MatchesFashion) but also some niche brands and pieces from collections that you haven’t seen before.
These stunners are currently 35% off at LN-CC. Thank me later. Next up: expert advice on how much you should spend on an engagement ring. This story was published at an earlier time and has since been updated.