Canary Coaching are spending the day tomorrow working with a fashion label in a large corporation doing mini coaching and styling sessions. I thought this article I wrote a while ago on NLP modelling and clothes shopping was particularly relevant!

Why is it that while some of us love shopping, are excited at the prospect of an excuse to buy something new and simply delight in ‘getting ready’ for a ‘do’ with friends, others hate it. Until quite recently, I was amongst those ‘others’. I hated shopping, dreaded getting invites which required shopping and getting ready left me in a heap in the corner, swigging gin with feelings of immense dread and ominous foreboding. Times of year when parties abound or weddings are in vogue, caused me to slump into a seasonal , shopping related depression!

No more. I decided to utilise my NLP modelling skills and carry out some private, informal research on how other people manage so much better than me. I decided to model the decision making process of choosing an item of clothing having tried it on. The results were enlightening. I interviewed a number of experts and non-experts to elicit their strategies, and what I found was, I think, a vital key to having good (or bad) self esteem – certainly in relation to clothes buying.

Numerous useful points came out of this model, some of which I will mention later, but most importantly, when trying on an item of clothing, each expert would not only visualise the items in their wardrobe that they would wear the item with, but they would visualise themselves wearing those clothes, in a particular situation, and being successful. An interview for example, they would try on their suit, and imagine themselves in the suit, in the interview, being fantastic. This is an excellent technique. Not only are they rehearsing a situation going well for themselves, boosting their confidence and eliminating insecurity, they are attaching or ‘anchoring’ this success to the clothes they are trying on.  Later, they would try the item on at home and repeat the process, thereby cementing this future rehearsal and anchoring.

No wonder they were excited to get ready – the experts had attached all kinds of good feelings and expectations to the clothes, and knew they were going to work, because they had seen it already. Non-experts, me included, did the opposite. They blindly bought clothes, uncertain, left the clothes in a bag at home until the dreaded day, uncertain, and then put them on again, further cementing the uncertainty, nervousness and fear. A perfect recipe for low self-esteem. 

I talked to my experts about where they got this strategy. A lot of them remembered with some annoyance their mothers saying to them ‘and what else will you wear it with?’ and ‘where will you wear it?’ and ‘could you wear it to granny’s anniversary as well?’.  My mother grew up on a farm in Kenya, so there was no reason for her mother to give her this strategy – all that she required were some run down jeans and a t-shirt!   Therefore, coming to England as an adult, she wasn’t aware of it, and has had the same difficulty as a result. The strategy therefore didn’t make it to me either!

So what now – I’m giving this model a go, and it’s working. I also gave it to one of my clients the other day who was a severe non-expert like me – in her initial interview she said ‘I would rather everyone had to look the same...I hate shopping, panic escalates, eventually just I grab and go. I don’t get excitement or happiness from shopping – on the way home I already know I’ve made a terrible decision.’  I received a text recently, following our session which read ‘This has been an excellent weekend for me and clothes shopping.  Bought my wedding cardi from Gap, a shirt and two dresses!!’. 


It led me to thinking, what other strategies are we receiving/not receiving from our parents which are contributing to or adversely affecting our success in life? It is amazing that  

something I have struggled with for years, could be boiled down to a simple difference in strategy, which I can learn. 

For those of you wanting to implement this model yourselves, this is what the experts all had in common to make the decision making process work for them. 

  • curiosity - they would occasionally look in shops, online and in magazines at clothes, taking an interest and seeing what they liked and where it was from.
  •  a positive attitude towards clothing – they saw clothes and shopping as a positive experience and looked forward to it

State of mind before going shopping 

  •  feeling good about themselves and in a good mood
  • not under time pressure
  •  focused on shopping and not worrying about anything else

Trying on the clothes 

  • all of the experts tried on the clothes properly – none of this sticking a skirt on over jeans in the main shop area - something which a former me has done on many an occasion to avoid queues
  •  they would test the clothing physically - sit down, stand up, raise their arms, stand on tiptoes to emulate heels etc. to avoid such disasters as builders bum, muffin top, bingo wings, flashing when exiting cars, ankle bashers etc
  • they would visualise the item they were trying on WITH OTHER ITEMS THEY ALREADY OWNED;  then  they would visualise that outfit working for them IN A SCENARIO eg sitting in an interview which is going really well, in the suit they are currently trying on

What were they aiming for?

  • flattering – not too tight – none of the aforementioned muffin-tops etc. 
  • makes more than one outfit. 
  • fits with their image/vision of themself you - for example two of my experts wanted to look like they had made an effort and were smart without being too ‘dressed up’.
  • made them feel good because they believe they looked good.

What happened next?
  • they felt really good once they had bought the item.
  • they went and tried it on at home with different outfits they imagined – thus cementing the visualisation process 
Whatever your particular hang-ups or difficulties – the chances are that NLP modelling could make your as successful as the best! 




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