How to Shop Part 2


Taking someone shopping with you is a sure fire way to eliminate buying things that are the wrong colour, shape, fit and price on one proviso: that the person you take is HONEST! Too many times while in the changing room I have heard “oh that looks FABULOUS on you hun!” only to emerge and find that “fabulous” girl is actually impersonating an exotic dancer. Not a good look.


If you genuinely have good taste and a sense of personal style then you are one of the few people who can shop for your wardrobe without a guardian.


Think that’s you?


Then test it. Go to your wardrobe and count the number of things you wear, regardless of season, on a fortnightly basis. If the percentage is 90 or above, congratulations: you actually wear the clothes you buy and can shop un-chaperoned. 


So whether it’s your man, lady, Mum, sister, bestie or little brother, take someone with you. Tell them what you are looking for, how much you plan to spend and make them make YOU stick to it!



The right sized garment will make the world of difference to your look, while the wrong size can destroy it.


Be aware, though, that just because you’re a size 10 torso and 28 waist, that doesn’t mean you can only buy those sizes.


Many designers have unique sizing and some even differ within the store itself. If you find a gorgeous oversized blouse, don’t get all frowny faced and put it back.

 Try it on and see if it works. I know someone that will only buy her size because: that’s her size!


Don’t fall into the trap of size, be open-minded.

And just as I write that, I’m going to give you some rules for when buying the right size matters. 


Crop tops are in, but aren’t actually meant to show your torso. At most, a few centimetres of skin is acceptable. Pair them with high-waisted bottoms, or a layer with a longer top for an ultra chic look. 


Billowy tops aren’t meant to swamp you. For vintage, check that the shoulder seam sits where it should: on the shoulder. Try tying the hem at various angles or partly tucking it in for added shape.

Boobs or leg’s a personal rule of mine, never both simultaneously. 


Structure is so important. Maxi skirts are perfect with more fitted tops; they add structure and shape that is lost with the fullness on the bottom half, creating a stylish look.

Find out your body shape (I’m a mixture of two) and dress to flatter your best assets.


Belts, cardis, tucking and tying hems, detailing and heels are simple ways to play up your best bits and hide worst.



Getting your colours ‘done’ was a major trend of the 70’s and 80’s.

Though fashion has changed, some of these rules still apply.


Seasonal colours still exist and complementing your skin tone is still important. Hold a garment up to your chin and look into a mirror, if it washes you out, it’s probably not for you. Don’t fall into the trap of “oh, I can’t wear brown,” there will be a shade you can wear.


There are exceptions to the old rules and colour blocking is one. Mixing clashing colours so they complement each other is a vast difference from the old matchy-matchy approach to colour styling. 


The colour blocking trend has been around for a while and is still not going anywhere. I love the way cold blue and warm ruddy colours bounce off each other the way they do here. So many NZ girls don’t, for whatever reason, engage colour enough in their outfits; the love affair with black is just too addictive.

Sable & Minx 


The usual step out of a comfort zones is something like, oh-my-goodness, a RED dress, worn with black of course.


Don’t get me wrong, I love black and probably am just as prone as anyone to grabbing at a melancholic shaded outfit when I’m uninspired. And yes, I am still wearing black leggings here (only because it’s cold), but black has a time and place. That is to say, a time and place that is not everywhere, every day, and just because it’s easy. 


Be daring Kiwi girls! Wear colour, with NO black (no, not even your shoes), go out, and see just how many fab comments you get and how chic you feel! DO IT!

If you’re not quite sure how to do it, here are some colours and outfit suggestions to try together.


Beginner: Dark Green dress with an animal print Brown cardigan. Worn with Blue flats and a Grey handbag. For the daring beginner, a skinny Purple belt, looped at the front.


Advanced: Navy skirt with a Beige singlet and a Red cardigan. Wear it with a skinny belt around the waist or do up one or two of the buttons. Sheer black tights would work with some Tan heels.


Pro: Green pants with a light Pink blouse. Pair with a Purple pair of heeled boots and a Yellow clutch.


Have fun with what you wear. Stop wondering what that person is thinking as they walk past you with a double-take, the person you don’t know. Express yourself, your mood, your creativity and your appreciation for aesthetics with what you wear, but BE yourself.


Another ousted rule is mixing colour with black; ignore Trinny and Susannah on this one. 

Black looks great with colour and brown (also a past no-no) so go hard!


The third and final segment will be on getting a good bargain, wardrobe versatility and longevity.


– Sarah Smith

The Rational Dresser









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