How to Be a Good Shopping Buddy

Compare notes: Before you hit the shops, stop for a coffee and chat about your goals for the day. Share yours, but take note of your friend’s, too. As you browse around, keep her list and criteria in mind, and pull items for her to try. You are an objective set of eyes, and will undoubtedly select items for her that she would’ve passed right over.

Make a plan: Your buddy may have different tastes, or just have different goals for the day. Unless you’re exploring a new city and have absolutely no obligations until bedtime, make a rough plan so that you’ll know which shops you’ll be visiting. It’ll help you budget for the outing, and also create balance: You can hit the stores you need, and make sure your friend hits her targets, too.

Be patient: Bring a book or app-laden phone to keep you occupied in case your buddy moves at a slower pace. No one likes to be rushed!

Encourage breaks: If you don’t have a scheduled lunch or dinner rolled into the day’s doings, be sure to demand breaks. They’ll help you recoup and regroup. This will make the outing feel more social, and also keep you both from getting over-tired.

Be honest: If your friend asks for an opinion, give it tactfully but honestly. Never lie or embellish, as you’ll just be doing your buddy a disservice. There are plenty of ways to offer constructive criticism in the dressing room.

Play: Make sure to do at least one goofy try-on at some point during the day. Or, at the very least, do a blind swap: Pick out something for your friend to try on that she’d never select for herself, and agree to try on an item she’s chosen for you. You’ll be amazed by how many fabulous purchases result from such silliness.

Curb the body bashing: Make an agreement beforehand to refrain from talking smack about your figures. You are there to support and encourage, and one of the best ways to do that is to ban body bashing and load on the praise instead.

Image via Mamas on a Dime

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  • Aimee

    Great timing! I’m going outlet shopping with a friend tomorrow who doesn’t like to shop. This should help us along. Thanks.

  • These are good tips – esp. the honesty thing. We often over-praise because we love our friends and we want them to be happy! I’m a solo shopper for myself, though. I need to hunt alone : >

  • I am NOT a good shopping buddy as prefer to go shopping solo. If I do go with someone else, I tend to follow their lead, since I don’t really like to have the pressure of another person’s schedule.

    However, if I am shopping with someone, and they ask me my opinion, I would ALWAYS tell the truth (nicely). I can’t imagine lying to a friend about something looking good when it doesn’t.

  • Cel

    I actually barely ever shop with another person. I’m like the Lone Wolf Shopper. I tend to zip around quickly between stores, methodically making my way through each, and then spend an inordinate amount of time in the change rooms haha… It’s better for me and everyone else if I just shop alone!

  • Love the body bashing tip — such a danger in our inner monologues when alone and a verbal trap women fall into with each other (often in a misguided attempt to praise our companion by degrading ourselves).

    I’ve joked with the BF that we need two “swear jars”…his for actual swearing, mine for bad body or food talk. We have VERY different politics so I proposed that after a set period we each donate the other person’s jar to our choice charity…not one the other would truly hate (for me, I could not stomach an anti-abortion thing but things like military groups would be okay, just not what I’d eve do myself). He hasn’t agreed yet (maybe someday if we start a family when both matter more)….wonder if there’s a twist that could apply to buddy shopping and body talk

  • Goofy try-on? Blind swap? I am clearly way too serious and goal-oriented as a shopping buddy! But next time I head out with a friend we are doing BOTH of these things, for sure!

  • I love this strategy. My problem is, at least when shopping with my most common shopping buddy my sister, any sort of plan soon unravels. “Oh! There’s a sale on shoes…” “We have to take a detour past Cinnabon…” “I forgot my wallet…”

    • Sal

      Hahaha. Nothing wrong with a little meandering, too. 😉

  • Anne

    I really like this post. I am usually a “power shop by myself kind of gal,” but I love the social aspects of shopping with the girls. The blind swap and goofy try on are brilliant as is the advice about body bashing . When I shop with friends, I ‘m usually more relaxed and I often find those little gem accessories that I might overlook while shopping by myself.

  • Ahh, shopping with others is really hard for me, especially at thrift stores. I tend to want to look down every aisle and through every hanger. I’m going to have to try to employ some of these tips though next time I go with my sister at the mall 🙂

  • SamiJ

    I grew up without ever having the “SB” experience — with large feet (too big for all department stores) and long arms (my mom would measure sleeves before I could try on sweaters) — shopping was a torture. Even to this day with larger sizes, I cannot buy shoes in a mall & 90% of my clothing purchases are made online. However, I am now a SB for my mom, who cannot shop by herself & is in a wheelchair. So these are great tips to remember, because I want her shopping to be a fun excursion, a respite from the snatch&grab shopping style of my dad. So I willl print and clip this, because it is a good reminder that the experience is more than the result.

  • HM

    As a spousal shopping buddy, it is important to bring something to read or a smartphone or something since there is a good chance the person you are shopping with can out shop you in regards to time spent in a store. Try not to complain or pout. Find a comfy chair if you can’t take it.

    I also recommend helping look for stuff to suggest.

    -HM

    • Sal

      In case you’re wondering, Husband Mike here is among the BEST shopping buddies I’ve ever had. Seriously.

  • I can’t shop for myself with other people. While I don’t mind going with other people while they shop I always feel under too much pressure when I’m shopping for myself with an audience.

    I think it goes back to being a kid and being bored at department stores when my mom went shopping. Even the promise of a My Little Pony didn’t make the process any better and I ALWAYS got in trouble for hiding in the racks.

    My 4 year old inner child just cannot bring herself to put anyone else through that torture.

    Except oddly enough kitchen goods and bookstores. I love hanging out with friends in those stores.

  • catnip

    My partner and I find it difficult to shop without each other. Without intending to, we’ve basically developed a system pretty close to what you describe. We’ve both ended up buying things that we otherwise might not have tried on because the other one suggested it.

    And after 10 years together, I know I can trust her to be honest about whether something looks off. I routinely hold things up in stores and ask, “Do I hate this?” It’s our shorthand for inquiries about whether something is too bizarre or out of character to bother trying on. The fun thing is that we are totally opposite body types, so we can live vicariously through the other.

  • The “blind swap” that you suggest is something that I do fairly regularly.

    On one of my “taste trading days” I invite a friend to go out with me, and we both promise to try on anything that the other suggests, no matter how many doubts we have. I almost always end up with at least one thing that I never would have bothered trying on myself, but that turns out to look great on me.

  • Love the last tip! It’s so important and makes everything so much more fun. Thanks for these tips 🙂

  • Those are great tips!=) I really like the tip about no body bashing and having fun with trying on funky outfits.

  • great tips 🙂

  • I follow all of these when I’m out shopping. 🙂 I see shopping as a very social activity, and generally I won’t “go out” shopping if I don’t have a friend or family member to go with me. If I want to shop and no one can go out, then I just haunt my favorite online stores.

    I’ve been told I’m an awesome shopping buddy. When I (recently) moved, a couple friends said they were going to miss our weekly shopping/browsing trips. Most of them have no one else to shop with, and also see shopping as a social activity.

    I can also personally attest to the “play” tip. I always make sure to try on one item that looks utterly hideous/hilarious on the rack. A couple of times I’ve discovered the item looks amazing on!

  • My husband is also the best shopping buddy. He somehow has infinite amounts of patience (if you supply him with a fruit smoothie), either sitting and waiting to judge outfits from the fitting room, sifting through sales rack after sales rack, or hunting for the hottest shoes in the store. Because I shop so much with him, his patience has rubbed off on me, and also, when I shop with a girlfriend, I never feel the need to shop for myself. When I’m with a friend, I find out what she wants, look all over for it, and grab tons of stuff that she would never choose for herself. I’ve been told countless times that I’m the best person to shop with, and they would never have tried out those different styles without me (that they end up loving), which gets me really excited for them.

    Playing is also important! Usually I get roped into trying on the same dress, shirt, or jacket with a friend, we both exclaim how cute we are, and both buy it. Ha–it’s really fun when you wear it for real because you think about how much fun you had with your friend 🙂

  • I love this! My friends and I basically have always followed these guidelines to great success. It’s fun to shop with an adventurous, supportive friend. I’d also add that it’s important to agree on a price range for the trip: thrifting, discount stores, low-end department stores, high-end department stores, boutiques, etc. That way, no one’s budget gets strained, and everyone’s happy.