Hey gents,

As much as we talk about what to buy, where to buy it, and how to wear it, that all doesn’t change one simple fact: most of us don’t like shopping in the first place.

Some of us do, sure, but I bet there’s a silent majority of you out there who don’t.

I also bet that some of you go through EG all amped because you’re now armed with the knowledge of what to buy, where to buy it, and how to wear it… but when it comes time to actually GO OUT and buy the stuff, you’re thinking, “F me, I hate shopping.”

End the pain quickly by shopping effectively

It’s no surprise we shop differently than the fairer sex. Men are on missions: In and out as quickly as possible without getting shot (or worse, talking to a sales associate). The ladies? It’s more of a social event to them.

So whether you’re a dude who completely loathes walking into stores, or if you’re more the type who enjoys browsing and picking out things, here are some tips that can help you shop effectively, save time, and probably even save some dough. Or money. Benjamins. Scrilla. Whatever the kids call it nowadays.

Plan ahead, know what you’re looking for

This goes without saying, but the more prepared you are, the better off you’ll be and the more time you’ll save.

  • What exactly are you looking to purchase?
  • Do you know your size? (Even if you do, you should still try several other sizes on to make sure the fit is perfect.)
  • What’s the occasion? Most likely you’re buying for a specific purpose.
  • Are there alternatives, in case you can’t find the exact item you’re looking for?

A good way around this is to shop a store’s online website before heading to the actual store. This is assuming you can’t order online for one reason or another. If you know the item you’re looking for, going in and picking it up should be a breeze.

In some instances, a store won’t carry what you’re looking for even though it’s online (I HATE that). If that’s the case, ask if the sales associate can locate or order one for you. Then if you’re in a rush, get the hell out of there.

Find inspiration before you go (and when you’re out)

Your favorite men’s style sites are great for this. Tumblr too.

You know what’s even better? Checking out women’s style sites and personal blogs. These chicks know how to dress! And they know how to combine color. You can learn a thing or two from them.

The best thing you can do when checking out these women and their style sites? Make note of color combos you like.

I was in Zara the other day waiting for Kate, and I saw this display of women’s pieces, all shades of mint green and a medium khaki. I instantly thought, “Damn, that’s a sick ass combo,” and yes, I said “sick ass” in my head.

That’s not exactly a revolutionary color pairing, but I never actually saw it together in person and realized how great they look together.

This may contradict with the whole idea of staying focused, but while you’re out, observing the stores’ mannequins and how they put together colors, patterns, and textures will give you good ideas on how to do it yourself at home.

Sometimes you need to see things in real life to realize how great they look when paired up. So get out there and start observing.

And as I mentioned, take a look at the women’s displays as well. They often have great examples of bold colors (especially in the warmer seasons), so gain inspiration from that.

Shop alone. Always.

You’re not saying yes to the dress, so you don’t need your mom and best friend rolling with you to pick up some shirts or a pair of denim.

You also don’t need your bros or your wife / girlfriend / significant other. You’re a man capable of making your own decisions; you don’t need a sidekick telling you what and what not to pick.

This also saves time because too many opinions lengthen the decision-making process, just like how too many cooks spoil the broth, or however that saying goes.

If you’re truly torn, go with your instincts. If you can afford it, get both, and then sleep on it for a day or two. Try both items on again after you’ve had some time away. This may give you more clarity in your decision. Just return the unwanted item the next time you’re out.

Also, actually return it. It’s easy to get lazy and just throw it in the back of your closet, but don’t do that.

Know your price and your range

Let’s say you’re out looking for some denim. If you have your ideal price ($55) and an acceptable range ($35-$90), you won’t be out of options if the pair you were eyeing is unavailable or you just can’t find it.

Have this range in your head before you go out; that way you won’t be questioning any of your purchases in case you can’t find the exact pair you set out to acquire. As long as it falls into your acceptable range, you’re golden!

Stay focused. It’s easy to get distracted

Browsing the suits or shoes at Bloomingdale’s when you should be getting your ass to Target to buy some Hanes isn’t exactly staying focused. You’re in a completely different store, for starters.

This all ties in to being prepared before you go out. Hey, you’re the one complaining about shopping in the first place. Stay on task so you’re not in that hell hole of a shopping mall any longer than you have to be.

If you have time and you’re in the market for a new pair of bluchers, then by all means, take a look. It wouldn’t hurt. But if you need to get in and out and you’re just not in the mood to shop, stop wasting time by looking at other items. Get your stuff, and get the hell outta there.

There you go!

Even I get a little woozy and light-headed after an hour or two browsing racks and dodging bratty kids, so hopefully some of these tips will help make your shopping experience a breeze the next time you’re out.

Any other effective, time-saving, pain-mitigating shopping tips you’ve gained from experience? Let us know in the comments below.

Till next time!


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21 Responses

  1. Frederic on

    I would also recommend finding a store/brand you like and keeping track of their sales. Everything goes on sale eventually, and unless you need a new shirt or pair of pants immediately, it’s best to wait.

  2. Rjb5584 on

    Although this is common knowledge to many, a small or medium is not a universal size. Also, if you can, try on the same shirt in three different sizes, as patterns and colors (at least for me) can influence how things appear to fit on you. Be aware of the country from which you are buying as well. European and Asian clothing runs on the small side and fits a lot slimmer. Was shocked to learn that, at 135lbs and 5’8″, I could be considered a large or extra large when shopping overseas, but could be a small in the States.

    • Rjb5584 on

      Thought these apply to this topic since returning ultimately means more time spent shopping than buying the right thing the first time, and for me, the biggest hassle of shopping is finding the time to do it

    • Barron on

      Good point! That’s why it’s important to try stuff on even if you think you know your size. Even from store to store WITHIN your country, fit differs.

  3. Asdas on

    As someone who hates shopping, I can give a few more tips:

    – only buy what you really like 100% –  never buy just for the sake of crossing that purchase off the list, buying smth you will rarely wear not only is a waste of money, but it will also make you revisit the shop sooner

    -when you find what you want, always buy all the colors available if you like them. One time I bought 7 shirts at once, same cut, same size, all white with different shades of blue or red stripes. If you don’t have the money, save a “clothing fund” with enough cash to buy at least 2-3 pieces. Make sure you know what you want, or else you will end up with a pile of crap.

     -go for only one or two kind of items at a time, e.g. go only for shirts and ties. Looking for too many items will drain your attention span.

    -make a “shopping day” – it’s better to rip the band aid all at once than to rip it little by little. Before you go make a “plan b” with the stores/malls you shall go to if you don’t find what you want first shot

    -avoid at all cost the times when the stores are crowded. 10am to 4pm from mon to thu is the least crowded, and if you are on a tight work schedule sundays at the earliest time are also ok.

    -go straight to the shop clerks and ask for what you want, e.g. “i want a pair of dark wash straight cut jeans my size, that has no cuts/rips/bullshit on them, does this store sell that?”. A lot af people avoid talking to the clerks, and so did I until I found out that you can save a lot of time. Sometimes the clerk is a hot girl 🙂 , most times is one of those antisocial idiots; but it doesn’t matter- it’s their job to assist you. Never feel obliged to buy anything, you can always say thank you and leave.

    -if you are hungry resist the urge to go to the food court before
    browsing the shops- after that 2500kcal burger king xxl menu you’ll lose
    your focus, which means the odds of not buying shit increase by 99%

    -stick to the plan and resist saying “fuck this shit I’m going home”

  4. Skip on

    In regrads to stores having sales. If you shop often as I do, you tend to discover the cycle of sales. When new items hit the shelf, wait a week or two. More often than not, its goes on sale. After a while, it goes to the clearance rack. The best time to score good deals is end of season. Great way to stock for the following season.

    • Barron on

      Yep, and never overlook the sales rack. To be honest, I find a lot of great stuff there. I hardly ever buy anything full price.

  5. Franklin Mann on

    As a happily married man and a social researcher I have to make a comment.

    Whether you like to shop or not has nothing to do with “being a man on a mission.”  Rarely does someone really hate hate hate all kinds of shopping or browsing or anything related to stores. And if they do, they hate the crowds, the traffic, the parking, and/or other things associated with the process of shopping.

    It’s all in what they value and are interested in. There are men that hate shopping for clothes but love shopping for fishing rods, electronics, etc.. There are plenty of women who hate shopping for clothes, but love shopping for outdoor sports equipment, gadgets, etc..

    And in regards to groups, it’s the same thing:  There are plenty of guys that like to shop for electronics, gadgets, sporting goods, with other guy friends.

    So why the lack of sartorial focus in American men?  And I say American because our Italian, Spanish, and even British counterparts enjoy clothing shopping more than we do (therefore it’s not gender).  It’s all in the social/cultural perceptions of clothes and fashion — most American men do not value dressing well as they do having an awesome fishing rod.  As a matter of fact, many American men think being too fashion focused as a “womanly” attribute and therefore most American men go to the extreme and view clothing shopping and fashion with low importance and not a “manly” activity.  Masculine insecurity?  Yes I do say so.

    It’s clearly a social/cultural issue and not a gender issue.

    • Barron on

      Whether it’s cultural or gender-specific, it’s still a fact that a lot of American men (i.e. a large percentage of my readers) don’t particularly enjoy the act of clothes shopping. So I’m simply addressing that, and finding ways for them to get around it.

      I do agree that it’s more of an American male thing, but I didn’t take the time to address that since it’s not really the point of the article 🙂

  6. andrew vr on

    There have also been great advances in online shopping that make the ‘trying on’ experience a lot easier. Companies like Frank & Oak (http://bit.ly/NGHTbg) release a new line of clothing every month and if you participate in their free members club, they pay the shipping to and from. You only pay for what you keep.

    I’ve been using it for a few months now and I’ve pretty much stopped shopping anywhere else. 

  7. Barron on

    Nice, glad to hear that experience is worth trying out. I’ve heard about them but haven’t explored much. Another interesting option is Trunk Club. Style consultants pick out clothes for you, you keep what you like and send the rest back. Would be interesting trying that out.

  8. Dan J. on

    I’ve been looking for a mint green dress shirt for awhile and haven’t found one. For some reason, green of any shade appears to be almost non-existent in men’s clothing. You’ll find it as an accent color or mixed with other colors, but very seldom as the main color in an item. For example, I get most of my shirts from Charles Tyrwhitt. If you go to their site and look for green shirts, they have a white shirt with a green mini-check (available in classic, slim or extra-slim fit, so it shows up three times) and a few other shirts that have multi-color stripes, one of which is green. That’s it. Other retailers have similar selections. Is green just not fashionable right now or is there really a problem with men wearing green?

  9. William F. on

    Am I the only man that actually likes looking at everything in the store and trying a few things on before I buy anything? I find that when I need something I can find things to go with it, or other things I want but didn’t think the store had anymore (last season, ect.). Also when you look longer you can find the better deals on things rather than just taking the first thing off of the rack in the front. I find a lot of men’s stores do this, knowing the average male will not want to take the time to look for a sale or better priced item, and they know they will get more money this way.

    • Dan J. on

      No, you’re not the only one. While I don’t look forward to clothes shopping with bated breath, I do find it somewhat enjoyable. I do generally have a specific goal and price range in mind, but I always look to see what else is available, what might be on sale or clearance, etc. And I do sometimes have someone with me and ask their thoughts on different items. I trust my own evaluation, but store mirrors aren’t always great at showing you what fits and what looks well. But I suspect that we’re in the minority and this article is spot on for many guys.