Three Tips to Avoid Shopping Breakdown

Stop wasting time trying on clothes that don’t and won’t look good on you.

Have you ever walked past a store window, seen a really great outfit on a mannequin, and thought to yourself, “I’ve got to go try that on?” Of course you have!

So you go into the store, find that exact outfit, head to the dressing room, and slip into it. You stand in front of the mirror and…

It looks terrible on you.

You start to wonder if you’ve suddenly gained 10 pounds, but you tell yourself it’s just this one outfit. After all, the store is full of cute stuff, so you walk around, picking things up until you have a whole armful of mis-matched, mixed-up items. Of course the helpful salespeople are always ready with even more suggestions, right?

Back to the dressing room you go, and you start trying things on. And one after another, nothing works for you. Out of the 20 things you brought into the dressing room, you think maybe one might be ok. Maybe. Feeling defeated, you heap the pile of clothes on the bench and end up going home empty-handed.

I’ve had days like that when I’ve gone home thinking, I need to lose 10 pounds, I need to get my hair cut, I need to get my eyebrows done… And on and on.

It’s not you. It’s ‘Shopping Breakdown.’

This is an excellent time for a glass of wine and some clear thinking.

So here are a few tips to help you find an outfit that looks great on you without beating yourself up or body-shaming yourself in the dressing room.

Tip 1: Ignore the Mannequins!

The mannequins are styled to bring you into the store! And they sure work, don’t they? Don’t get me wrong; I’ve seen many, many great outfits on the mannequins and thought, OMG, I have to have that! But the reality is, the mannequin is, like, a size negative-2 with practically no shape at all. If you pay attention, you’ll see the outfits are almost always pinned in the back to give them some shape.

A couple days ago, I was at the mall and spotted a very cute red dress. Kind of casual, with those little cap sleeves. Maybe a little long for me but I figured, hey it’s just a simple red dress, and I love red. But once I had it on, I realized it just went straight down with no sign of the (obviously-pinned) shape it had on the mannequin. This just isn’t a flattering dress for most people with a butt and hips. If you don’t have those, maybe it would look ok on you. But there’s no way it was going to look ok on me.

So ignore the mannequins!

Tip 2: Know Your Colors!

This is super-important, because it will let you eliminate a lot of things in the store that just won’t work for you. If you pick up that cute top that’s not really in your color palette, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment whether you realize it or not. What’s worse, you may not realize it until you find that cute top in the back of your closet, practically unworn, a year or two later. You know, that cute top that you hardly ever wear because you just don’t feel good in it? That’s the one.

So just look for your best colors. If you don’t know what your colors are, you can come to my site,, to learn how to find your best colors. You can even buy a color fan in your specific palette, and bring it with you when you shop!

Pro tip: this works for guys too! Even my husband knows his best colors.

But this is about you. So now there’s a new problem. There’s a lot less to choose from!

Now, I’m not saying that you can’t try something on even if you know it’s not your color (you might end up loving it!), but at least now you have a couple rules that can keep you from dragging those 20 mixed-up pieces into the dressing room. Maybe you can now find a just few things that are more likely to look great with your overall coloring and skin tone.

And the helpful salesperson will have fewer things to pick up and put away.

Tip 3: Know How to Dress Your Body Type!

This makes a huge difference! I’m not immune to trying on things that aren’t going to work with my body type, but at least now I recognize it and move on.

I’m a pear shape and I’m getting older. I have a butt and hips, and in the last few years my tummy has been gaining on the butt and hips.

The butt and hips don’t bother me so much — that’s just… shape. But the tummy is new to me and I don’t like it. I find myself in stores picking up the same kinds of things I used to pick up a few years ago when I had a much flatter tummy and was thinner. You know, those nice form-fitting dresses? I still pick them up, but then in the dressing room, it reality hits: oh crap, I’m not 20 anymore and this does not look good on me!

So I have to remember to look for things that are more flattering for my body now, rather than what I used to be or wish I was.

Pro tip: salespeople might occasionally tell a white lie, but dressing rooms don’t!

Anyway, dressing for your body type is something you really should learn. The more you know about what works for you, the better your shopping experience will be. Once again, you can go to my site,, and follow the link to my Color Style Club site. I have courses that will help you identify your body type and teach you how to dress to look your best. Check it out!

So there are three tips to avoid “Shopping Breakdown.” Ignore the mannequins, know your colors, and know how to dress your body type. For more ideas and inspiration, check out my blog at

Happy shopping!

Jen Thoden is a color style coach, entrepreneur, runner & mother-of-the-year (not). Her expertise in color and style has been featured in, She Knows and Thrive Global. Her mission is to empower women to be true to themselves. She is the founder of Your Color Style™, a proprietary online color system that makes it easy for women to discover their best colors and to learn how to style themselves in ways that say “I am worth knowing!”.