How to Shop When You Hate Shopping


Does this sound familiar?

You need clothes, so you go shopping. 

You walk into a store, see the hundreds of items, and instantly feel overwhelmed. You wander around picking things up and wondering “is this for me?”, but aren’t really sure how to answer the question. 

You try lots of things on. 

You find some things you really like but you don't know if you’ll actually wear them. 

You ending up buying something you might have an opportunity to wear twice a year, and the next day you get up and look at your wardrobe and you still have nothing to wear.

There are lots of variations on this story, but if you’ve ever experienced frustration like that, you’re definitely not alone. 

The thing is, it doesn’t have to be that way. 

Knowing your colours makes shopping quicker, simpler and more successful, and I’m going to show you why.

Before we get into that, though, let’s quickly examine the reasons that you might not love shopping.

Photo by

1. Decision fatigue

Our brains do not have an infinite capacity to make decisions. 

Making decisions takes energy, like all brain functions. And shopping is a process of making many, many micro-decisions, all in a row. Eventually, you just run out of the ability to make good decisions. That’s decision fatigue.

If you ever come home with an item and look at it the next day and think “why did I buy that?”, decision fatigue is probably the reason. 

This is also why some people wear the same clothes every day — it drastically reduces the number of decisions to be made both while shopping and while getting dressed.

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Decisions become harder if there are too many choices, and harder if the criteria for deciding are unclear. And if you feel exhausted just reading that sentence, I’m with you


2. The tyranny of choice

100 years ago shopping was much easier, because there was much less to choose from. The upside was that choosing was simple, the downside was that you might not like any of your (limited) options.

Today, we live in a world that provides us with a vast array of choices. 

This is both the promise and reward of the industrial and technological revolutions.

It also adds complexity and waste, confusion and paralysis, to the lives of modern people.

Having too many options can paradoxically make choosing anything more difficult.


3. Environmental stress


Shops, particularly shopping centres, can be difficult environments to be in. 

They are often visually stressful, because they contain a mish-mash of colours that are disharmonious, and that is hard work for your eyes and brain (I talk about this more in Why the Colours You Wear C hange How You Look).

Shopping centres can also be acoustically poorly designed, so that they create and amplify discordant noises. 

And let’s not even discuss the crowds…




Feel exhausted?

Don’t worry, it doesn’t have to be like this. Shopping can be easy.

All you need to do is reduce the options you’re deciding between, and know what you actually want, and then decisions virtually make themselves

You can spend less time and energy shopping, less time getting dressed, actually like your wardrobe, and wear more of it.

So how do you reduce your options, and know what you actually want?


1. Know your colours

So you’re standing in the entrance to a clothes shop. Where do you begin?

This is what most people see:

Photo by  jarmoluk

Photo by jarmoluk


This is what I see:

Soft Autumn colours in a shop

Soft Autumn colours in a shop


When you know your own colours, your brain will quickly filter out all the colours except the ones that might be yours. So in the image above, the only colours are ones that could be Soft Autumn.

This makes shopping so quick for me. I scan for my colours, and check the ones that look close.

If I find something that’s harmonious with my Soft Autumn fan, that’s in a style I will wear, and in my size, then I don’t have to agonise about it. I can just buy it, knowing that it’s a good purchase for me. It’s that simple.

If I were a Bright Winter instead, this is what I would see:

Bright Winter colours in a shop

Bright Winter colours in a shop


And if I were Light Spring:

No Light Spring colours

No Light Spring colours


Yep, there aren’t any.

You can stand at the entrance to a shop, scan for your colours, and not even go in and waste any time, because you know there’s nothing you’re interested in. 

This saves so much time. And so much decision-making energy. Which you can keep for the next shop where there are good options for you.

There are so many benefits to having a Personal Colour Analysis, but this is one people often don’t anticipate. 

Want to reduce your options even more?


2. Know your styles

There are many approaches to finding styles to flatter you, from simple body-shape flattery a la Trinny & Susannah, to more holistic style types from David Kibbe to Truth Is Beauty.

Or, if you already know the clothes that work for you and your body, go with that.

Whichever approach you take, the important thing is that you’re narrowing down your choices to ones that you’ll actually feel good in.

You know, the 20% of your wardrobe that you wear 80% of the time.




If you know both your colours and your style, you may reduce your options so much that you sometimes shop and find nothing that’s quite right. 

What do you do then?

That’s the subject of my next post, What to Do When You Can’t Find Your Colours.


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How to Shop When You Hate Shopping:  Why shopping is stressful and how to make it easy

ShoppingSarah Tearleall