No, it really doesn’t matter where women shop. As long as you are discerning about style, colour and quality, spend your fashion dollars where it works for you.

Shopping for merchandise from a variety of places works best for my style, my pocket, and my conscience. I shop anywhere and everywhere! There are reasons to shop in one particular place, and reasons not to shop at another. Where you choose to shop will depend on what you are comfortable spending, the time that you have available, and the items that you are looking for:

Designer boutiques (e.g. Chanel, Prada, Dior) – shopping for exorbitantly priced designer labels is purely a status symbol. You are not getting “better quality” purchasing items here then you would shopping at better end chain stores. In fact, chances are high that the merchandise was made in the same factory! You can expect a high level of exclusivity (although knock offs are rife), but certainly no value. “Investment shopping” does not necessarily yield the highest rate of return. Your body and lifestyle change, and few people are happy wearing the same black jacket for 10 years.

Smaller boutiques (e.g. Mercer, Zebra club, Sway & Cake) – items from boutiques tend to be more unique and fashion forward. Selections and sizes are limited and sales are always late into the season. But if you are lucky and happy to pay higher prices – you’ll probably love your boutique purchases.

Department stores (e.g. Nordstrom, Macy’s, Neiman Marcus) – the variety in department stores can not be beat. They house a wider assortment of designer labels and boutique merchandise with a better return policy. Better -end and mid-priced items, underwear, cosmetics, accessories and shoes for the entire family are available under one roof. Sales and specials are prolific and refunds are easy. Department stores are top on my list for convenience, customer service, and excessive choice. However, the abundance of product can be overwhelming and precisely the reason why many stay away.

Chain stores (e.g. Banana Republic, J Crew, Express, Lane Bryant) – both better-end and mid-priced chain stores are super places to shop for commercial fashion. However, the risk of “looking like everybody else” is a guarantee. What you gain in value you’ll loose in exclusivity.

Specialty stores (e.g. Victoria’s Secret, Sylvia’s Swimwear, Accessorize) – such stores make shopping simple and are therefore popular. Their narrow but in depth range of one product is appealing. You might find yourself becoming incredibly loyal because of this.

Budget shopping (e.g. H&M, Old Navy) – with women’s trends constantly moving, buying “fashion fads” from cheaper end stores is a brilliant idea. They’ll last you a season (hence the term “throw away fashion”) and won’t have cost you an arm and a leg.

On-line shopping (Zappos) – as convenient as this may sound, pictures are deceiving and disappointment is inevitable – unless you have bought the product before and know exactly what to expect.

Whether it’s trendy designer boutiques, better-end chain stores or “throw away fashion” lines that tickle your fancy; its how you put it all together and carry it off that will make or break your look.