Learning how to shop for a living is really all about teaching your eye to edit. Even as a broke teenager living in Texas, I had this skill. I never realized I did until a friend of mine complained that she went to the same stores I did but didn’t find anything cute like I did.
When I shop, I can rapidly scan over tons of junk to seek out the unique diamond in a pile of boring sameness. It's like my eye doesn't even register the stuff that's not worth seeing. This ability comes in handy when faced with a store like Target, where there is tons of stuff not worthy of even putting in your cart.
My favorite dress from Target. Everyone laughed when I bought it on clearance for $20.00 because it looks like your grandma's tablecloth. Now they are tres jealous, as it is tres cute!
I believe that the art of editing while shopping can be learned. I’ll teach you how! (If you don’t care and just want to see my selects of what’s cool at Target right now, scroll on down to the pictures.)
1) Relax your mind and your eyes will follow.
I find that I shop smarter and find the best stuff when I am not stressed out or looking for any one particular thing. I ignore my ringing phone and force myself not to think about all the stresses waiting for me back at work or home.
I love to shop and browse around in all kinds of stores. It’s a safe, happy little bubble for me. Lots of people are stressed out by the idea of shopping. It’s just a matter of learning to make it your friend.
2) Be informed.
Look at clothes you can’t afford in more expensive stores. Try them on, even! It teaches you to notice special details on lower priced items. This is why I always include some expensive stuff in my recommendation posts, so you can train your eye to spot the affordable versions when they pop up in unexpected places.
3) Be willing to do the work.
People are forever begging me to take them shopping. When I finally do, they can't hang. They are pleading for mercy by about noon. Shopping is a physical activity. I am always on the lookout for some new unusual spot I’ve never been in. I drive my friends and family nuts asking if we can “just pop in this weird store for 2 seconds.”
Having a well-stocked closet of items that fall within your budget is a result of putting in the time.
4) Be open to new stuff.
I loved Diane’s post about trying a trend she didn’t think would suit her. Finally she did. The result? She ended up looking cool as shit in something she had written off. Get outside of your comfort zone! This is why stylish people are stylish -- they are not afraid to make mistakes and look stupid sometimes. Say it with me, I know I’m a broken record but it’s true: FASHION IS SUPPOSED TO BE FUN!
5) Develop a fresh eye.
Avoid typical items you’ve already seen everywhere. You are looking for new, unusual, cool and different. Take a chance on something that may be terrible. The things I love most in my closet are things that were on mad clearance because nobody understood how to wear it. Be brave! This is why I avoid most of the Target designer collabs nowadays -- you get way more bang for your buck with the unknown Target items that no one can place.
6) Look beyond the obvious.
Learn to see past bad lighting, poorly styled photos and incomplete garment descriptions to see the possibilities. This is especially important when shopping Target’s online offerings. Their site’s functionality and design leaves a lot to be desired. You have to force yourself to wade through the 37 pages of chaff to find one great item. But if you are willing to dig, there are real gems to be found. I love that it’s almost like they don’t even know what great stuff they have.
The point of all this is that there's always something cute to be found at Target. You just need to know where to look! I’m going to walk you through all of the departments I check for cute fashion stuff every time I have to make a run there for toilet paper.
Target is a great place to find affordable versions of big key trends. I love all the lace they have right now:
I bought all my stretchy body-con skirts this summer at Target. I think they err a little bit on the short side, so I’d recommend buying them one size up from what you would normally wear.
I actually hit up my local Target in person last night for some solace after a stupid argument with one of my friends. The universe was pretty clearly looking out for me, as I would otherwise have never known that there are HELLO KITTY CLOTHES FOR ADULTS!
I totally bought that dress -- I love how subtle her face is in the pattern. I am forever trying to squish myself into kid’s Hello Kitty clothes. But I have a good excuse -- I love Hello Kitty so much, I have a Hello Kitty tattoo!
These skirts are perfect to buy now for the end of summer and then cruise on in to fall by wearing them with some wooly tights and a sweater. I love clothes that work in any season.
They'd also be slammin' with these neon-sole oxfords and some ankle socks:
Target is my absolute number one source for affordable boots. Clearly they don’t last forever, but they have the very best interpretations of more expensive boots at ¼ the cost of other knockoff artists.
I've seen these Dr. Martens-inspired boots in person, and they are truly not bad for the price. I highly recommend them if your budget won't allow for the real deal. On one hand I dislike knockoffs, but on the other, I think knockoffs are totally responsible for the democratization of fashion. Those who can't afford $200 boots should be able to get in on a trend, too. It really levels the playing field.
I could barely get my credit card out of my wallet fast enough to buy these:
Target usually has brilliant jewelry. Right now I’m digging their array of architectural necklaces.
I got both of these terrific sunglasses when I went the other night -- I am a sucker for shades in heart and geometric shapes.
Target is an excellent spot to score cheap evening bags. I hate spending over $20.00 on something I don't even wear all that often.
Shipping is always free at Target.com when your order is over $50.00. I am eternally $1.00 short of that, so I throw in a $5.00 pair of my favorite thong underwear to qualify.
Here’s one final bit of Target shopping advice: always be sure to check out The Shops At Target, a rotating collection of offbeat clothes and home accessories from pricier designers. September 9th is the official opening of the Kirna Zabete, Curiosity Shoppe, Odin and Patch NYC boutiques.
I'm on Twitter: @IveyAlison