What am I thinking when I try something on? I ask myself Three Questions:
Question #1: The Fundamental
"What am I doing when I'm wearing this?
I imagine real-life scenarios, and they'd better flow freely.
Useful corollaries: Do I have at least three things that go with it? Will I need to buy new shoes? Is it a duplicate?
The reversable sari-silk stole at left made the cut; it goes with everything from jeans to a dress and rolls up to nothing in a bag. It's from a private sale held by Toronto's Kalabandar.
Question #2: Mood
"How do I feel in this?"
The answer will fall into to one of three categories:
Responses like confident, clever, capable, energetic, attractive, happy, "absolutely right", distinctive, quirky, wild, elegant, pretty, graceful, or a simile that reflects qualities you admire ("I feel like Audrey Hepburn") indicate a contender.
Two 2012 purchases, a v-neck sweater (Brora) and narrow, stretchy kick-pleated skirt (Lunn), felt absolutely right for me.
The answer reflects the desire to transmit a consistent image that meets my or others' expectations.
Those responses include appropriate, professional, like my employer/clients/students/family/ expect me to look– or a label: like a lawyer/sales manager/teacher/retiree.
Years ago, I actually bought business wear with the words offends no one in mind! While there's nothing wrong with looking the part, to be happy rather than merely satisfied, I ought to respond with one or more words from the Positive list, too.
I'll reject anything that elicits tired, like my 24-year-old niece, or hot as Dita... but this is supposed to be for work.
If I answer okay, or another lifeless word like good or nice, I'm going to waste money, because I got something forgettable. My Texan nephew once saw me unpack a skirt like this and try it on; he said, "No. Just...no. It's dead from the ass, both ways."
Question #3: Fit
Does it fit?
Presumably, if you feel terrific in it, it fits. Still, I've had label lust and/or size vanity: Look, I can get into an 8! Who cares about that little gap at the chest, I'll just get a better bra.
If it needs more than a straightforward
alteration, leave it. Forget "five or ten pounds from now".
Corollaries: Don't welcome a new colour into your wardrobe unless you realized that pale blue is now beautiful with your newly-grey hair, before you went shopping. Close your ears to the saleswomen saying, "No, really, you can wear salmon", if you haven't even a scarf that shade.
Though I budget, I don't think "I'd never pay more than $x for a pair of pants", for example. The point is value, not price. However, some clothes are overpriced and I won't serve as a walking billboard for any designer.
Several friends with whom I shopped last year remarked that Question #1, which they heard me asking myself, helped them, too. There must be other great questions out there. I look forward to hearing those from you!