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Design & Style

Tan France Shares 8 Essential Shopping Tips

Written by MasterClass

Last updated: Nov 9, 2020 • 6 min read

MasterClass Video Lessons

Tan France Teaches Style for Everyone

Shopping for new clothes can be an overwhelming experience, but it doesn’t have to be, with the right shopping strategies. While some people prefer shopping online, shopping in person can offer a much different experience and allow you to interact with clothing in another way.



Tan France Teaches Style for EveryoneTan France Teaches Style for Everyone

Queer Eye cohost Tan France breaks down the principles of great style, from building a capsule wardrobe to looking pulled together every day.

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A Brief Introduction to Tan France

While some were first introduced to fashion expert Tan France on the Primetime Emmy-nominated Netflix show Queer Eye in 2018, the prolific stylist has been in the fashion and styling business for over 20 years. Before the fashion guru appeared in the hit makeover show reboot along with the rest of “The Fab Five,” co-stars Bobby Berk, Antoni Porowski, Karamo Brown, and Jonathan Van Ness (JVN), he had helped thousands of people find their personal style and find a look that makes them feel like the very best version of themselves. Since the breakout success of Queer Eye, Tan has become one of the most visible, sought-after personal stylists in the world—making history as the first openly gay South Asian man on television. In 2019, he published his memoir, Naturally Tan, which became an instant New York Times bestseller. In 2020, Tan co-hosted the fun and fast-paced 2020 Netflix fashion design competition series, Next in Fashion, with Alexa Chung.

Tan France’s 8 Essential Shopping Tips

If you’re styling a new wardrobe and prefer shopping at physical clothing stores rather than online shopping, fashion expert Tan France has a few great tips to make it a more enjoyable and efficient experience by the time you get to checkout:

  1. Use your mood board. Whether you shop for trendy new items in person or buy clothes online, a mood board gives you an image to work with—making it easier to shop because you can use the board as a reference point. If it doesn't tie in with the mood board, it's probably not right for the look you’re trying to achieve. The mood board helps keep you right on track, which can hopefully reduce any impulse buys or distractions.
  2. Discover new looks in a department store. If you want to find a new look in general, a department store is a great place to start. They have many brands within a department store, so if you find that one section of the department store does not have what you need, there's probably a section that’s a stone's throw away that will have the piece you’re looking for. With a department store, you can search through many brands within a very short space of time.
  3. Visit your local thrift store. Thrift stores are a great place to find unique items at sale prices. Are you looking for a colorful cardigan to add a pop of color to your winter wardrobe? Try thrifting. You can make the thrift shopping experience much easier if you know what the store carries. Before heading out, find out which store stocks more of the specific items you’re looking for, and search there first. Keep in mind that while thrift stores have low prices, your shopping list can start to add up if you buy enough items. Set a budget and leave your credit card at home. Taking a cash-only approach will help you stick to your list of needs and help you avoid overspending.
  4. Ask for help. Sales associates are an untapped resource. They are usually trained by the company to know exactly what is available. They may not know everything, but they will know roughly what's available in their store. Ask the sales associate where the item is that you're looking for, whether it be shoes, handbags, young contemporary, and stick to that department. Once you've exhausted that department, then move onto the next. Ask a sales associate in that department to help you find what you need.
  5. Be limitless. If you want to make the most of your shopping experience, don't limit yourself by only shopping in the women’s or men’s section. Pop over to the other section. You might find something wonderful in that section. Don't be ashamed to cross over that aisle and browse. You may find something that you would never have found if you had confined yourself to one department. This flexible shopping can be beneficial for your budget, too: You may find that a specific type of clothing is on sale in one department and not the other. You can also comparison shop between departments to find the best sale items.
  6. Buy jeans in person. If you've already bought a certain pair of jeans before, know what they fit like, know the brand, know the size, and haven't fluctuated in your weight, you can order them online. However, if you are buying a new brand for the first time, or trying out a new style of jeans, a new fit of jeans, or a new color, your best bet is to check them out in person. Most store brands have their own unique fit. How a pair of denim jeans fits affects how you feel about your look. If the sleeves are slightly too big on a dress or the waist is slightly too big on a blazer, you can pass it off as the look—but if a pair of jeans doesn’t fit right, you're going to feel uncomfortable all day.
  7. Think outside of the department store. Grocery stores may not be the first place you think of for clothes shopping, but some grocers stock more than fresh produce and frozen foods. A common misconception is that you can't find good quality clothing at supermarkets. Grocery stores tend to sell more casual clothes like sweatpants and T-shirts at the best prices, which are great casual items for working out or lounging around on your day off. Before your next grocery shopping trip, go online to see if your grocer has any clothing for sale. If you like their selection, add a couple of items to your grocery list. As always, be sure to employ smart shopping—be selective about the items you're choosing to save money. If you find something that works for you at the grocery store, buy it. Nobody's going to check your labels to see if it’s a designer brand. They may not be your favorite designer brands, but you can pick up affordable pieces without paying full price or worrying about the price tag. A shopping tip to keep in mind: grocery stores don’t typically have dressing rooms so check the store’s return policy before purchasing to ensure that you can return the clothes if they don’t fit.
  8. Be honest with yourself. When you go to a store, you may want to splurge on the shiniest or glitziest items. However, when you shop, make sure you buy things that will already fit with the items you have in your closet. If it doesn't, that means it's probably not your aesthetic, and you're not going to wear it because you don’t have anything that goes with it. You will have to buy multiple new pieces if you want to express yourself with something that unique.
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Want to Learn More About Unleashing Your Inner Fashionista?

Get a MasterClass Annual Membership and let Tan France be your very own style spirit guide. Queer Eye’s fashion guru spills everything he knows about building a capsule collection, finding a signature look, understanding proportions, and more (including why it’s important to wear underwear to bed)—all in a soothing British accent, no less.