We tend to favour certain brands and retailers because, for a myriad of reasons, they work for us. Then there are other brands and retailers we don’t shop because their fits, style sensibility, price points and quality standards do not work for us. 

Or so we thought. 

I have a “leave no retail stone unturned” philosophy, which was probably born out of my years spent in the industry working as a fashion buyer. Despite our negative and preconceived ideas about them, I believe that a brand or retailer deserves to start afresh at the beginning of a season, and here’s why. 

First, fashion buyers and merchandise managers are responsible for selecting the items that stock a retailer. They bring a certain “handwriting” and style sensibility to a store department as they plan and buy their merchandise assortments. This handwriting becomes “the look” of the department. The thing is, buyers and merchandise managers move around. And when new buyers and managers take over a department, the handwriting changes. The change might be right up your alley. 

Second, retailers can deliberately change their target market focus, quality control standards, and product assortments. Think of how many times the Gap has changed its product focus over the last decade. Retailers like Talbots and Ann Taylor have also shifted their style direction over the years. 

Third, at times it’s hard to believe that retailers are actually on our side, but they always are. It’s in their self interest. They want us to be happy with their merchandise, so they’re constantly tweaking fits and updating size specifications to achieve the best product for their target market. You might not have liked the way Banana Republic’s “Martin fit” trousers or J.Crews’s “Matchstick” jeans fit a few years ago. But by all means try them again because the fit may have changed more to your liking this season. 

And last but not least, YOU change. Your body shape, budget, lifestyle and style preferences are seldom static. For example, you never used to shop at Anthropologie when you worked as a lawyer. But your new arty, bohemian and casual Mum-on-the-go lifestyle makes their merchandise a good fit. Or, you’re in the mood for fashion forward stuff this season, so heading off to Zara as well as Ann Taylor makes sense. 

I encourage my clients, friends and our forum members to leave no retail stone unturned because wardrobe gems can be found in the most unlikely of places. Just last week I found my chunky cream cabled pullover at the Gap, and I haven’t bought knitwear at the Gap for years. I found fab slouchy skinnies at Sears, and my favourite black suit (with cropped pants no less) in a department store in Japan. I used to walk into J.Crew each season hoping that their items would tickle my fancy because their happy colour palettes lured me into the store. But year after year I was disappointed because their items were never quite right for my style. But over the last 18 months, things at J.Crew started working for me and now I can’t get enough of their blouses, casual shirts and knitwear. 

Leave no retail stone unturned because you never know where you’ll end up finding that perfect item for your style.