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Beauty & Style

Five Lessons I've Learned From Shopping

A font of retail wisdom, Kristina Stewart Ward loved her first job—at the mall—then became an editor at Harper's Bazaar.

1. I trust my instincts
Love at first sight doesn't apply to just men—it's equally applicable to shoes. In fact, it would be hard to count the number of times I've fallen for a particular pair of stilettos before spending an hour trying on at least a dozen more—only to leave the store, heart pounding, with that very first pair.

2. I keep the right company
I love my husband. There are few activities that aren't improved by having him at my side, but shopping is definitely one of them. Whether or not he's actually glancing at his watch, it always seems to feel that way. Acquiring new clothes, like sinking into a good book or a hot bath, is an experience you should have on your own. Better yet, bring your girlfriends—their shared interest in the season's silhouettes will make the time feel doubly well spent.

3. I never hesitate
They're rare finds, those elusive items that seem like they were made just for you. Yet my time in the trenches has taught me not only that they do exist—the sunglasses that frame your face as no other pair you've found has, the dress that zips effortlessly—but that when you happen upon one, nothing short of pouncing will do. If you can afford to, buy more than one of whatever it is.

4. I stay true to myself
No matter how much money you have, who wants a closet full of pricey labels? My fashion personality comes from mixing staples, vintage finds, and the odd purchase that makes a look all my own. One reason shopping is so intoxicating is that it's an easy way to exercise choice: We take generic dollars and turn them into fabulous ensembles that represent us. At its best, getting dressed is a way of showing the world who you are. No label can do it for you.

5. I allow myself to indulge
If you ever feel guilty after a little retail therapy, remember this: There's no need to resist the siren call to shop; it's a primal instinct. Our ancient forebears were hunter-gatherers—they just did it without the modern luxuries of Target, shopping carts, and credit cards.

my best find
"In New Delhi, I walked into a luxury hotel and saw nuns selling these incredible hand-embroidered napkins in the lobby. They—and all of the textiles in India—were actually the inspiration to launch our Plenty by Tracy Reese collection, which includes pieces like my flounced blouse." —Tracy Reese, Fashion Designer

Note: This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.



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