Last week, I talked about my recent, less-then-inspired trip to the mall. I live about 15 minutes away from King of Prussia Mall, one of the biggest malls in the country with every brand and store imaginable at my fingertips.
I went with an agenda: one outfit for my casual birthday party in the city, and a few pieces to build outfits for December holiday events.
About an hour into my trip, I stood in the middle of Nordstrom dumbfounded. There was nothing to buy. I spent a decade bringing clients to Nordstrom; I dressed hundreds of women every year when I had my personal shopping business. Now I was standing in the store as a consumer, bored and frustrated.
I eventually found a few things, but it (1) was harder than it needed to be, (2) took too much time, and (3) wasn’t fun.
A Fresh Take
It was, however, a much-needed experience and reminder of how hard shopping and getting dressed is for most women. When I worked with clients, they would tell me how overwhelming it was to navigate a store. So I get it, you don’t have hours to spend searching for the right piece, and, when you do find the right piece, you might not know how to wear it and work it into your wardrobe.
That’s where I come in and why I’m introducing “What to Buy at” as a monthly series.
I’ll go to a store, sift through the mess and find all the hidden gems. And because I’ve learned over the last year that the overwhelming majority of our readers are my age (40) and over, the advice will focus on pieces that are modern, youthful, but “age-appropriate.”
And by age-appropriate, I simply mean something like these shorts that are actually hanging on the floor at Nordstrom next to the denim department, won’t make the cut. <Insert an eye-roll so hard it hurts.>
Today, I’m starting with H&M because we have talked a lot about them lately both here and on Instagram. While I find some great pieces there, it’s not an easy store to shop simply because of the sheer volume of merchandise.
If there is a store you’d like me to feature, drop a comment below. And get ready for more fashion focused content in the new year, specifically for us grown ups who want to look chic and stylish but don’t want to dress like a kid.
Want Our Daily Posts Delivered Straight to Your Inbox? Sign Up Here and as a Thank You Receive our Free Classic Wardrobe Checklist.
Best Tips for Shopping at H&M
For H&M specifically, there are a few things to keep in mind:
1. Their inventory online and in stores are not always the same. For example, the grey and black sweaters I’m wearing below are not online, but they are in stores. Frustrating, I know.
2. I stick to sweaters, dresses, and coats. I avoid skirts, pants, and blouses. The blouses, for the most part, feel tight and short. Hopefully they work that out because many of them are adorable.
I also skip bottoms because the fit isn’t always on point. If you are in the store and can try on, of course, go for it, but I spend a bit more on bottoms so the fit is perfect.
3. Novelty pieces, like beaded and embellished sweaters, are great this time of year. At H&M, you can pick them up at a price point that won’t break the bank.
For sizing purposes, I am 5’10 and wear a 6- 8 in most brands. Here I buy mediums and 8/10s that fit comfortably.
The number one tip when shopping at a store like H&M is to focus on neutrals and texture. You’ll instantly elevate your look. Their prints, generally, lack sophistication. So if you want to look more expensive, keep your outfit tonal.
Grey goes with everything, so while you can wear it with a simple pair of dark jeans (above) you can also dress it up with black ankle pants and heels, or a navy, or make it monochromatic with a darker pair of grey bottoms.
Below are some of my favorite grey sweater options:
Look for small, subtle, elevated details, like buttons, beads, and trim accents. Because H&M’s price point is approachable, you can wear these without feeling like you have to be too precious with them. Garments with embellishments are always in my “save” column. Again, keep the look neutral, and you’ll look like you are wearing a unique piece from a little boutique.
I featured this white beaded sweater a few weeks back. It’s under $20 and ideal for entertaining at home. It’s limited in size online, but there were plenty at my local store just a few days ago.
I also really love this sweet beaded collar sweater in white.
It’s definitely a style-over-function coat, though it was ideal for the mild weather. It’s what I call an “outfit finisher.”
Other toppers I love:
Other must haves:
I need to do a better job of logging my outfits because I wore this mock neck sweater all weekend. Seriously, all weekend long: to pick out our Christmas tree on Saturday, I threw it on to decorate it on Sunday with leggings, and then I wore it to dinner last night.
I also picked up this red dress for a holiday brunch, this to wear to a friend’s annual Christmas party at a local bar, and this simple sequin top to have on hand for still-to-be determined New Years Eve plans.
Remember, at less expensive stores, it is so easy to get distracted and discourage. Often the music is blaring, there is little sales assistance, and it’s hard to look away from the ridiculous options in front of you. So keep it simple. and go in with an open mind and a plan, you’ll be surprised what you can find.