We’ve all got shopping biases: Stores we consider to be too young, too old, too expensive, too cheap, too … something. Reputations and personal experience are among the most influential factors, but we can also be susceptible to catalog and website styling: If a brand presents its items on models who look drastically different from ourselves, or if the clothing is styled in ways that clash with our aesthetics, we tune out. We assume that since we’re not the target audience, and the brand won’t work for us.
And that’s valid. Why bother with a manufacturer who clashes with your vision of your own personal style?
Well, there are several reasons:
- Diversity of sources: If you’re looking for the perfect pair of black ponte pants, limiting yourself to your regular haunts may not work. Looking at a wide variety of possible sources increases the likelihood that you’ll actually find what you’re looking for.
- Quality: Just because you don’t like a brand’s aesthetic doesn’t mean that brand makes crap. Many manufacturers whose catalogs make you cringe may produce good quality items at decent prices.
- Stretching your imagination: Training yourself to see items out of their presented context is a FABULOUS way to improve your ability to style yourself creatively. When you force yourself to ignore styling and imagine something on your body, in your wardrobe, you’re stretching your imagination in a very, very good way.
One of the main reasons I thrift is because I believe in broad searches. I believe that good stuff is everywhere, and the more places you look the more likely you are to find it. I am just as happy to buy an item used as new. Happier even! And many of my wardrobe staples have been thrifted. But I also force myself to consider as many sources as possible at all times. I look at all the catalogs that arrive in my mail, even ones whose merchandise appears far outside my own style boundaries. And I’ve found some amazing pieces by doing so.
Everyone has their sticking points, of course: If a company has atrocious manufacturing policies, treats its employees badly, creates offensive ads, or does anything at all that makes you angry or upset, forget ‘em. There’s no reason to widen your pool of sources to include vendors you actually, actively hate for personal reasons.
But if you’re not finding what you need among your usual sources, peeking over at some shops that feel taboo, stodgy, trendy, or otherwise uncomfortable may yield surprising results.
Do you discriminate against certain sources for aesthetic, styling, or demographic reasons? Are there shops or manufacturers that you dismiss for being too old, young, trendy, out-there, cheap, or not-you? Would you broaden a search to include those shops if your usual suspects weren’t delivering what you needed?
Image courtesy SoftSurroundings.com, a vendor whose catalog styling feels not-me, but whose actual garments consistently intrigue me.
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