A case against one stop shopping

Now that I'm officially in my 30s, I sometimes feel like a trip to the mall is just asking for an identity crisis. My eyes often wander longingly to the brightly lit store front of Forever 21, despite being a decade over their demographic. I like to keep up with the fashion trends, but every time I go shopping I find myself feeling like I just don't have a store that "fits" with my age, my style, and my budget.

I remember as a teen having a few staple stores that could outfit me for an entire school year. Now I wander around aimlessly wondering where it's appropriate for me to shop. For some reason I've been drawn to the illusion of one stop shopping. I have a hard time buying something at a store unless I can make an outfit of it on the spot. But really, who wants to look like they walked out of a Gap commercial?

I finally realized something that has eluded me for the past several years: I need to do more mixing and matching. I should stop worrying about not being able to purchase an entire wardrobe (or outfit even) in one place, and just try to find a few things here and there that work for me.

I can still absolutely wear a sweater from American Eagle (even though my teenage neighbors shop there)...as long as it's paired with something age appropriate on the bottom. And a few classic staples from a more mature store like Ann Taylor Loft will still look young and hip if I style them correctly. All of these years of watching Project Runway has taught me that it's all about the styling!

Guess what? The same is true of our houses. If we buy everything on the page in the IKEA catalog, our houses are going to look like the IKEA catalog. As amazing as it looks in the catalog, is it necessary to copy the entire room? Catalogs are great inspiration, but we don't have to outfit our entire home from one store. The best looking homes in the pages of magazines are artfully curated mixtures of old things, new things, personalized touches, DIY projects, high-end splurges and designer knock-offs.

So, as tempting as one stop shopping is, and as easy as it would be to copy rooms or outfits verbatim from advertisements, try some mixing and matching to find a style that's truly your own.

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