What to Buy at H&M

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

Go Neutral

What to Buy at H&M
H&M grey sweater with puff sleeve detail, DL 1961 jeans, J. Crew necklace.

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:

 

Small Details 

What to Buy at H&M
H&M sweater with gold button detail, Theory pants, Sam Edelman pumps.

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.

What to Buy at H&M

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.  

Coats

What to Buy at H&M

I picked this camel coat up on Black Friday and wore it hours later to the theater. Here I paired it with an ivory turtleneck, black “skinny” pants and black suede knee boots

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. 

What to Buy at H&M
Megan Kristel

Megan Kristel is an entrepreneur, working mom, and former personal stylist. Tired of the one-dimensional portrayal of women online, she founded The Well Dressed Life as a resource for other professional women.

27 Comments
  1. This is so right up my alley! I am mostly disappointed any time I venture into a Nordstrom and get so overwhelmed by the sometimes bizarre choices (hello, those shorts!) mixed in with the other stuff that I give up. It takes a lot for me to enter a mall these days lol! I’m glad I’m not the only one who faces this, I wondered if it was me just getting older and more cranky or what!

    Thanks for this, Megan, I’ll look forward to this new series! You’ll be saving me lots of time and frustration!
    -Jen

  2. I agree with the the previous comment. Not sure why shopping has become so overwhelming..
    thank you for recognition this. I am so glad to know that this is felt thanmore than myself .
    Thank you for helping with the editing and streamlined suggestions.

  3. This is a great idea for a series, I look forward to more! Some shops I like are LOFT, J Crew & Banana Republic. Something I’m struggling with right now is pants. It’s winter where I live which means ice and snow so heels are not always a practical option. I like ankle pants but don’t know how to style boots with them. Flats work but my feet get cold. The struggle is real…lol!

  4. Thank you for the H & M tips, I always go in with my daughter (26) and being over 40 not sure what to get, but the neutral idea is just my style.

  5. Happy Birthday! I loved this post, thank you! As a woman in my 40’s I’m not ready to be dowdy but I’m also not about to wear sequined shorts out and about. Practical, I appreciate that you share your size with us: it helps me understand how the clothes will look.

  6. I live near the King of Prussia mall as well and had almost the same exact experience at Nordstrom’s recently. In addition to finding out they completely eliminated their petite department – there was just nothing! I haven’t tried anything from H &M before- thanks for your suggestions!

    1. Thanks Abby! I’m happy to hear I’m not the only one underwhelmed by Nordstrom lately. Try just a few things at H&M, it’s not for everyone but can help fill that trendy/casual void so many of us have.

    1. I am going to wear it with dark jeans and heels, I also tried it on with velvet ankle pants and black pumps and it looks adorable.

  7. So glad that I am not the only one feeling that way at Nordy’s! My husband and I have been customers for over 30 years and have gone from wanting to buy too much, to not finding anything we want to buy. The only problem is that we can’t find any other options. Also, I agree with the previous post about petites, they now “mix them in” with the other sizes and departments – who has time for that! Love your idea about shopping different stores to see what works and what doesn’t, it will help expand my horizons. Thank you!

  8. I love your blog …and I still find shopping challenging. I went into H&M yesterday and tried on your suggestions which look amazing on a long, lithe figure but ridiculous on a shorter, hour glass figure with broad shoulders. ☹️ So sad. And frustrating. All of the festive sweaters incorporated similar shoulder enhancing features.

    Can you recommend another store that carries lines more appropriate to those of us needing a more tailored cut? I’m partial to Diane Lane’s classic looks, eg in Paris Can Wait.
    Thanks!
    Tanya

    1. Thanks Tanya, H&M isn’t going to be for everyone – but I so appreciate you trusting my recommendations. I’ll have more stores coming soon!

  9. Hello Megan,

    I really appreciate your approach to shopping and getting dressed. With your help, I have upgraded my wardrobe some without spending too much money. I’ve gotten compliments from friends whose style I admire. Thank you!

    I’d like to add one point/request. Most of the sweaters you’re showing are things I totally would have bought 3 years ago—I love how they look. However, I’m in my mid-50s and am going through menopause, with hot flashes hitting me numerous times a day. Consequently, I can’t even think about turtlenecks 😢 and pullover sweaters. I have to wear things I can take off quickly, like cardigans and jackets. I may be in the minority among your readers, but I just thought I’d throw that request into the mix.

    Thank you for your good work!

    Meg

    1. Thanks Meg! And absolutely, I’m trying to figure out to set up the site so those items are easier for you to find and not “hidden” in individual posts.

  10. I’m responding to Meg,
    I’m finally rounding the end of menopause and went years without turtlenecks and big woolly sweaters (my fave things to wear!!!) I got through it by wearing sleeveless tops and shelf bra camisoles, the cotton knit kind. I’m small up top so just put bra liners in side the shelf bra instead of trying to wear a bra with the cami’s. Bra’s for some reason just added to the misery. They also make camisoles with underwire bras built in. I also had a selection of sleeveless mock turtlenecks. With something like that underneath a shirt, jacket or light sweater then it was easy to take off and still look dressed.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Instagram
  • 😞Why is shopping so overwhelming?
I feel like once I hit my mid 30s it became more and more challenging to find pieces that work for my lifestyle and body while staying modern and youthful.
🎉Good thing I spent over a decade as a personal stylist!
Today we’re launching “What to Buy at” a monthly series where I sift through all the “stuff” at one store and find the age-appropriate, chic gems for busy women over 35 who hate to shop but want to look stylish. 
Today, we’re starting with @hm.
LOTS of options especially for the holidays.
☝🏼Follow the link in our profile.

Follow Me!

Newsletter

Let's stay in touch! Enter your email to sign up for our newsletter and to get your free copy of our wardrobe checklist

© 2018 Kristel Closets, Inc.

Privacy Policy

We use affiliate links throughout this site. This means that when you click and/or buy a product we recommend, we receive a small commission. That in no way affects our opinion of those products, and we only link to products we personally recommend. Please read our full disclosure policy.