Rack of men’s and women’s shirts and jackets.

This post is referred to in Chapter 7: A Home That Works for Everyone, in my new book When You Can’t Believe Your Eyes: vision Loss and Personal Recovery , published this month.

Buying online is getting popular and can be easier than getting to the store. There are big variations in how accessible online stores are. You may need sighted assistance to describe the clothes unless your color vision allows you to make good choices. if you find clothes or shoes that work for you, online stores can be useful for repeat orders. Also Be sure to check that you can manage the return policy; charges and ease of returns vary greatly. My own favorites are stores which include a self-adhesive return address label in the package and which you can drop off at a Post Office, FedEx, or UPS. Some stores charge a “re-stocking fee.”

If you have a wedding, birthday party or vacation ahead, or you want to improve your volunteering, interview or work wardrobe, you might do best at a men’s or women’s specialty clothing store. One advantage to shopping at a clothing store is that you can usually get more personalized service. Some stores offer a good personalized shopping service and some don’t, so call ahead to make sure. Find out which times and days would be best too. You don’t want to waste time and effort getting there only to find that the assistants are too busy to help much.

When you arrive, identify yourself as the person who called and ask for a sales associate to assist you. It’s worth adding that you are hoping for someone who knows the store well, just so you don’t get a new recruit. If all goes well the assistant will spend dedicated time with you, listening to what you have in mind, making suggestions and then going with you to the racks to choose items to try on.

Make sure you go with your assistant to check out the clothes yourself. You need to know what’s there and how they feel and look. She will then set you up in a fitting room to try on a bunch of clothes, bringing you alternative sizes and colors. Some people develop a relationship with individual sales associates (sometimes called “client specialists”) over time, which can be a great help if the salesperson is a careful listener who explains the color and the look to you, but doesn’t impose her ideas.

Specialty stores are likely to have better service but higher prices than the big chain retail stores, where there are usually very few assistants and it may be hard to find the racks or bins you want to look through. If you just need a couple of shirts or shorts to fill out your wardrobe, this type of store will probably be nearer and cheaper, but you may need to take someone with you.

Another option is shopping at a clothing consignment store or regular second hand store. Many of these stores are small and very well-organized, with racks arranged by type, size and color. There will be no two-of-a-kind items, so if something doesn’t fit you won’t be able to try a different size. And the sales are final – no returns.

Wherever you shop, be sure to ask about the return policy. Where full refunds are offered you might buy all the items that interest you, keep the receipt somewhere safe, and try the clothes on at home in comfort. Make sure your friend is willing to return the unwanted items. (After this you’ll have to cook her dinner!)

If you can wait, the really good deals come at the end of each season. Winter coats, suits and boots will be marked down by as much as 70% in mid-January to mid-February. Summer clothes go into clearance towards the end of August. But of course choice of style and size becomes more and more limited as the season goes on. Other big sale times are the week after Thanksgiving, the week after Christmas, and Monday holiday week-ends.

Check out : Spring is Coming and It’s Time to Think About Your Clothes, so you know to lay out all your clothes before a new seasons and have the keen clothes-buyer in your family or among your friends come to look at them. You and your friend can decide what looks good and what’s a bit past it. The goal is to appear up-to-date and attractive, and feel good about yourself without spending beyond the budget.


  1. I’ve been trying to put more effort into my clothes, and I was curious about how you would choose the right ones. I really like that you say to look at second hand stores and other stores like that when shopping. It would be nice to know you are getting the right look.

    1. Hi Frank, I quite agree the knowing that you look the way you want to is all-important because it is how you feel like yourselfand in control. There is no perfect way to do this, but here are 3 options: 1. Find a relative or friend who really like shopping (lots of people who see well do) and take her with you when you are shopping for a few things. Explain what look you want – casual, modern business, slightly old-fashioned but classic etc. and which colors suit you. 2. Ask the store assistant for assistance with colors and what kind of look the store , or the clothes give you. Clothing store assistants including some second hand stores like clothes a lot and will be willing to give you some useful feed back. 3. Download the aira app onto your smartphone, dress yourself in a way that you hope is good for a party, an interview, a casual outing with a friend then use the 5 minutes free call with an agent to ask them to assess how you look.
      The important thing is to keep trying various ways in a kind of laid-back but effective way, and maybe this is how you want to look! Hannah

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