How To Go Dress Shopping with Success

Dress Shopping

When I made plans to go shopping for a cocktail dress for my nephew’s upcoming wedding, I decided to do it right.  So often I end up at the mall, shopping for something specific, but I don’t have the right shoes or undergarments or, well, anything.  It’s so frustrating to try on dresses that aren’t QUITE right and wonder what it would look like with a different, um, support system.  And then to stand in the dressing room, on my tippy toes, trying unsuccessfully to envision it with high heels.

So last Saturday, I got up early and showered and shaved and lotioned and potioned so that I felt and looked my best.  Then I packed a small bag with several undergarment options and a pair of strappy gold high heels that should go with just about anything.  (I’m hoping to get a chance to wear them again — they’re the shoes I got last year for my brother’s wedding.)

I had also looked around online for cocktail dresses so I knew the stores that weren’t worth checking, and I knew where I wanted to go.  I was pleasantly surprised at the dress selection at Nordstrom in the $100 – $150 range.  There are many more online that they didn’t have in the store, but at least I could get a sense for my size in the various brands, and then I went online and ordered a few more to try.  I can return any that don’t work out to the store.

It’s amazing how much more fun it was to try on dresses with the proper shoes, and I definitely made use of my little bag of undergarments.  And also.  If you don’t have one of these, go forth and order one right now.  Go ahead.  I’ll wait.  It’s so totally worth the price.

You’re back?  Good.  So here’s the lowdown.

How To Go Dress Shopping with Success

1. Shower, shave, and fix your hair and face so that you feel pretty and you can get an accurate picture of how you will look all gussied up.

2. If you have time, prepare by looking around online at various stores to see what dresses they have this season so you know where to look and what stores to avoid.  This can be a huge time saver.

3. Bring a pair of high-heeled shoes, preferably the ones you plan to wear with the dress.

4. Bring along a few different bras, or at the very least a strapless one.

5. Bring a shaper that keeps your problem area(s) in check.  It can make a WORLD of difference in the fit of a dress.

6. Bring a friend.  It’s always nice to have a second opinion, and it’s also helpful to have someone there to zip and unzip the 152 dresses you try on.  Plus, it just makes the excursion more enjoyable.

What tips would you add?

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22 thoughts on “How To Go Dress Shopping with Success

  1. What a great idea. Plus, getting all dolled up like that is such a great way to start a day no matter what you are doing!

  2. GREAT tips. For me, I’d be doing good if I followed this list:

    1. Shave.
    2. Don’t wear big, white socks.

  3. I love trying on dresses. I absolutely, always bring along strappy sandals and usually wear a strapless undergarment. It makes a huge difference. And I’m so with you on doing the hair and make-up before I go shopping… It makes ALLLLLL the difference!

  4. Does the leg part in the lipo in the box scooch up? Cuz I have some spanx and the shorter ones (not the capris) scooch up on my thigh, making for an “interesting” look.

  5. How about a digital camera? Have a friend take a photo from the back so you can see what it looks like without craning your neck.

    Also useful when comparing 17 different dresses and you don’t want to take em all home…

  6. We must be sharing a brain today as I blogged about my shopping experience! Though not for a dress so much. You might find it interesting though.
    I never thought to bring in different undergarments and such. Great idea!

  7. Hey Darla. It doesn’t. The waist part schooches down some, which I don’t mind. It doesn’t fold over, though, like some. What I do like is that it doesn’t flatten out the tushie, and it’s comfy enough to wear all night. Some heavier duty ones are too much for me.

  8. i just went dress shopping with my husband tonight. i should have taken your advice…i came home with nothing. it gets a little discouraging…

    on to more important questions, how on earth do you go to the bathroom. this is very important to me, because the more nervous i am, the more i have to go. do i really have to wrestle that up and down each time?

  9. As a low-maintenance shopper who despises sales people in my face all the time, I have a tendency to blow them off and yet you can hear my whining a mile away when I walk out of store after store complaining I can’t find anything.

    My tip is to find a good store where the sales people genuinely know their product lines and are really willing to help. So far I have only found this kind of service at Nordstrom’s and Ann Taylor. The best thing about these stores is there is a huge variety of price ranges and you can almost always find something on sale or within your range.

    Don’t be afraid to ask for help!

  10. Melanie, it really isn’t bad (this one in particular isn’t super tight) but there IS an, um, accommodation for that, in the garment itself, if you so choose. 🙂

  11. Susan, yes, I totally agree with that!! It does help to have assistance *IF* the sales staff is good.

  12. This is a great post! I’m not much of a shopper (at all), but I have found that going with a friend helps me immensely. She can give me the extra nudge I need to pull the trigger on a purchase, or convince me that the bargain is a bargain for a reason.

  13. Ok, well this may be a stupid question. But what do you carry your undergarments and shoes in…a big bag??? I hate shopping with a large purse as it is…so any tips would be great!

  14. Andrea, I just had a small handled bag from a previous shopping trip that I put them in. I didn’t want to clutter my purse with all that stuff.

  15. I love the first tip. I mean, not that I go dress shopping often:) But certainly it doesn’t fly so well when I put on what could be a nice dress but am distracted by how horrible I look otherwise. You’re right – we need to feel pretty to begin with.

  16. I think I need you to take me shoping you make it seem fun. I absolutly dread it! Yuck! Can we wear pajamas to Blogher??? LOL

  17. Love your tips Jo-Lynne. I would add to your list “Bring your color palette!” It has saved many of my clients grief in the dressing room. If you don’t have one, Wardrobe 911 will be offering a simplified version to the public soon. 😉

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