Ashlee, star of the Style Network’s new reality show Big Rich Atlanta, shops like a “Boss Bitch.” The Atlanta socialite and former teen beauty queen is an old-money heiress who knows the difference between couture and plastic—and isn’t afraid to correct you if you don’t. Her #1 tip for shopping success is to “hire a stylist,” but if that’s not exactly within your means, these five tips will help to make sure you never have another shopping bust.
1) Bring a friend whose style you admire
You know that one girl who you’re always asking, “Where’d you get that ____?” Let her be your personal shopper for the day. Ashlee says she isn’t afraid to let a friend know if they need a new look, and with that in mind, bring along someone who’ll let you down easy when a piece just isn’t working for you. Don’t bring your boyfriend—if he’s anything like Ashlee’s man he’ll get “Neiman Marcus anxiety” and slow you down. (Do send him cellphone pics from the dressing room when you need a confidence boost.)
2) Do your research
Thank goodness for the Internet. These days we have the luxury of Googling “brocade jacket” and having a virtual inventory of the whole mall before we even have to set foot in one. Knowing what the stores have to offer before you leave the house (you can even call ahead to find out if the item you’ve been coveting is in stock) means that you can divide and conquer, and avoid getting burnt out. Do a little price comparison shopping beforehand, come with a goal in mind, and stick to that goal, within reason—there’s bound to be that pair of shoes you didn’t come for but just can’t ignore.
3) Wear your most versatile underwear
It’s really hard to know what that open back dress will look like when you’ve got a bright red sports bra on underneath. And are those leather leggings really that unforgiving or is it the panty line from your boy shorts that’s creating a FUPA? Wear your lowest-cut T-shirt bra (strapless if you’re trying on dresses) and your most invisible underwear, especially if you’re shopping for daring items.
4) Don’t let yourself get too hungry
It’s 2 p.m. and you’ve been at it since 10 in the morning. Things are getting a little hazy and suddenly you’ve got a shopping bag full of stuff you’ll probably just have to take back next weekend. According to Ashlee, “The only people who get burnt out shopping are the ones outta money, honey!” But for those of use who do have to worry about spending all our cash on something we don’t need, shopping fatigue is something to watch out for—you don’t realize how much you’re on your feet when you’re going from store to store, but all that browsing adds up. Eat a small, healthy meal to keep you going, but don’t chow down at the food court either. Nothing looks good on top of a heaping helping of orange chicken and fried rice.
5) Ask stores about membership programs
A lot of major chains have in-store rewards programs that will give you 15-20% off your purchase just for signing up. Be sure to ask about scary small-print details like monthly minimums or fees, and make sure it won’t be a hassle to cancel if necessary. If it’s all clear, go for it—that splurge could become a steal.