22 In Shopping Tips

Use the YES Test for shopping success

Plaid coats

The right people are wearing the right plaid coats


When I woke up this particular Monday morning, I had no idea I’d be using the shopping YES Test on a coat I’d purchase for myself a few hours latera coat that had Erin written all over it.

Here’s how it went down.

Erin and I had some scheduling details to go over before meeting our shopping client that morning. Personal fashion leaked into the conversation. “Now that I’m wearing this cognac handbag and boots so much, I think I need a brown coat,” I said.

“What do you mean? You have a brown coat already, that houndstooth one you love,” she snapped back.


shopping tips

Houndstooth coat in 2016


“Oh, yeah, you’re right,” I said. I pulled out the houndstooth coat, which I hadn’t worn yet this season. I didn’t have a better choice than this one with my burgundy and orange outfit and my cognac boots and handbag. I slipped it on and away I went to meet Erin and our client at Nordstrom.

A few hours later, our client left with a new, much-needed casual wardrobe. Erin told me she had alterations to drop off but said, “Let’s look at coats.” Okie Doke. That girl loves her coats.


Slipping in some coat shopping

I spotted a tartan coat and showed it to Erin. She’s crazy for menswear fabrics. Her face lit up.

“Let’s take it to the dressing room,” she said. You betcha, Babe.

She tried it on and it was too big. “You could order it in a smaller size,” I said.

“But just how many plaid coats do I need?” she said. True, I’ve seen her closet.


Helene Berman coat from Nordstrom

Happy as can be in this Helene Berman tartan coat


You try it on,” she said.

Her face lit up again. “You should buy that.”

“But how many plaid coats do I need?” I said.

Let me tell you, it felt so good, but I held back. I was being practical.

We brought our rejects to our buddy, Mariam, at the Indy register counter. The two of them started chit chatting as Mariam rang up the sale.


Coat shopping

Preparing to walk away from Ms. Right Coat


I nearly failed to listen to my own YES Test

While they were busy jabbering away, I tried the tartan coat on again. I took a selfie so I’d remember this moment of bliss, and then I put it back on the counter. I put my old coat on again and stood next to Erin.

Erin looked at me in my coat and said, “Why didn’t I get that coat when I had the chance? I love that coat. Let me try it on.”

I took the houndstooth coat off and handed it to her. Mariam looked at Erin wearing it and said, “Oh Honey, this coat is perfect on you.” I had to agree. I saw the longing in Erin’s face. Reluctantly, she handed it back and I slipped it on again.


Mother daughter shopping

Helping Erin with her new houndstooth coat


Getting a second opinion on my coat

“Mariam, will you look at this coat on me?” I said. “It feels bunchy in the shoulders.”

I’ve worn this coat for a few years but suddenly it didn’t feel right. Of course, I’d just taken off a coat that I felt 100% at ease in.

Mariam fiddled with the shoulders. “Honey,” she said, “if you were buying this coat again, I’d want to go up a size. This coat looks best when it’s nearly falling off your shoulders. It’s too small on you.”


Menswear fabric coats

Smiles in our hearts and coats on our backs


Hallelujah. From where I stood I no longer had a plaid coat, yet I knew exactly where to find one. That longing in Erin’s eyes disappeared when I took off the houndstooth coat and said, “Here, it’s yours.”

I put the tartan coat back on. The feeling of YES* flooded my body. It looked so much better with my cognac shoes and handbag than the other one did. It fit much better, and my body felt happy. “Yes, body, you deserve to feel good!” I told myself.

I pulled out my credit card and purchased the coat I loved.

Erin and I left the store in just-right coats. We had smiles in our hearts, and we lived happily ever after.

Well, so far at least.


Using the YES Test

YES YES YES says this Helene Berman coat from Nordstrom

*Use the YES Test when you’re shopping

Let me tell you about the YES Test. The first time I ever used the YES Test was early in my career. I was shopping with a new client. We were in the shoe department, and I was really nervous. I wanted this shopping trip to be successful, but I felt so inexperienced.

I needed to push my performance doubts away, and that’s when I remembered to use the YES Test. With each pair of shoes she tried on, I waited to feel YES flooding my body. When I listened for YES, I stopped thinking. My gut guided me. It worked—she was thrilled with our selections.


Origins of the YES Test

I named this shopping tip after an experience my former mother-in-law had when she met the love her life, Charlie.


Jeanne inspired the YES shopping test

Charlie, Jeanne, and their granddaughter Caitlin in Solvang


It was during WWII. Jeanne was with her girlfriend, Rosalind, at a USO dance. A very handsome man in uniform came through the door. Jeanne grabbed Rosalind’s hand and said, “See that man over there? I’m going to marry him.” There was no hesitation. At that moment, every cell in her body knew he was the one. As the evening wore on, Charlie crossed the dance floor and asked Jeanne to dance. They were married a year later.


Ready to try the YES Test?

When you’re shopping, ask yourself if the thing you’re looking at is a YES. I capitalize “yes” so you can feel the certainty of it. It’s not kinda, sorta, almost, closeit’s YES. This tartan coat was an absolute YES. I just had to sort out the practical issue of whether I needed two plaid coats in my closet. As you see, it became a non-issue!

Look at items in your closet. Can you tell which ones are YES? Can you hear them talking?

Come back and tell me what your clothes said to you, okay? I’m so excited to hear all about it!


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  • Reply
    Claudette Spiers
    December 13, 2018 at 4:24 am

    Brenda how timely your post is. I had been looking for a pair of patent black brogues and went through very many on line, all nice and perfectly suitable and yet? and then I came across the pair and my heart fluttered I ordered them and they arrived yesterday it was a YES a capitalized, enboldened and underlined YES and I have a sneaky feeling you might like them . They ar a silky black patent leather with small silver studs rather than punchouts. They feel like slippers on . Pure Joy.
    Best wishes for the holiday season.

    • Reply
      December 13, 2018 at 9:15 pm

      Hi Brenda,

      You have a cross necklace that you wear often, and I am wondering if you know of where I could find something similar? I love the shape and size of it.
      Happy holidays,

  • Reply
    jodie filogomo
    December 13, 2018 at 6:19 am

    That’s such a great judge when you’re shopping. It’s like that Clean out question about holding it up to you and seeing if you love it.
    That feeling about clothes is how they transform you!!

  • Reply
    December 13, 2018 at 6:42 am

    Brenda, I’m so glad you found a way to listen to the YES! And I have to tell you, I just looked at your coat on the Nordstrom website and it looks SO much cuter on you than on the model. You wear it well, indeed.

  • Reply
    Nelda M Pattillo
    December 13, 2018 at 6:48 am

    What great advice! I have found out, through trial and error, if I purchase anything without the YES test it just seems to hang in my closet getting moved around until I clean out my closet!!! So, many sale items that I purchased actually cost me more money!!!

  • Reply
    Marjorie Sargent
    December 13, 2018 at 9:56 am

    When I shop, I have my little voice, a bit of Marie Kondo, and a great loving dash of you, helping me to quickly move along the racks until the RIGHT piece stands there in front of me. My newest silver raincoat was heading into a change room with another woman. I KNEW it was me, so I just stood a short distance away and waited. As soon as the clerk brought it out and put it on the NO rack my hand reached out and walked it into another changeroom. I put it on, Wow! and walked out to look in a 3-way mirror. One of the head associates came over and said, “Yes, it looks like it was made for you!” Got my things and headed to the cash with a big smile on my face…you would have approved!

  • Reply
    December 13, 2018 at 9:59 am

    P.S. Erin looks like a younger version os Katherine Hepburn in HER new coat!

  • Reply
    December 13, 2018 at 10:00 am

    I find it easier to say no lately. I’ll take this as a sign that it’s time to step back, simplify and say good-bye to some things that are just hanging around in my closet. Then forward, with clarity of vision, later.

  • Reply
    December 13, 2018 at 10:10 am

    PPS. You look so sassy and delighted in YOUR new coat!!!

  • Reply
    Cathy D.
    December 13, 2018 at 10:49 am

    Brenda, you look so pretty in your YES coat, and Erin looks lovely in the houndstooth coat! Currently I have lots of coats, but none of them are YES coats. I must do something about that.
    I do have three recently purchased YES items in my wardrobe, a red cashmere beanie and scarf and a black vest. Wearing them (but not necessarily together) makes me feel like a million bucks. None of them were on the list of things I absolutely needed, but I loved them so much I couldn’t leave them in the store. Now I want to wear them every day.

  • Reply
    December 13, 2018 at 2:04 pm

    Brenda, it’s interesting that something we loved and wore all through a previous season can just seem not as good the next time. I think this is because we change and evolve in our minds and our bodies. Like Mariam said, the coat no longer sat just right on you this year. I find this a lot. In fact, I go back to things I absolutely loved last summer and say ‘no no no, not this year’. What’s with that? I can only put it down to the changes I just mentioned. In a word, I want to say it’s ‘ageing’ but maybe it’s more complicated than that and that word kind of has a negative demeanour about it. I don’t know, but I don’t like to wear anything that doesn’t say ‘yes’ to me. Oh and with the changing, I recently just bought new bras, as my ‘girls’ are changing too. They look much better (in my opinion) now they are securely kept in place by the new corsetry. And I think the smaller plaid pattern on you is much more flattering than the large one which does look as though it was made for Caitlin. Lucky girl to have such a fab job and a fab mum. Xxxxx

  • Reply
    Cindy Scurry
    December 13, 2018 at 2:10 pm

    You and Erin are adorable in your right coats! Love a plaid coat! I just got one this year! 🙂

  • Reply
    Keira Williams
    December 13, 2018 at 2:29 pm

    Great coats and I love that you gave Erin the houndstooth coat! I call this the HELL YES test, which I believe I picked up from @baiyinadotcom I think. 🙂

  • Reply
    December 13, 2018 at 4:06 pm

    YES or NO test, I WANT THAT COAT YOU BOUGHT! It looks amazing on you and Erin won out too. I love the men’s wear look too. I was just thinking about my Grandma remaking my Dad’s houndstooth coat for me my freshmen year at UND. You’ve read my mind.

  • Reply
    Betty (SC)
    December 13, 2018 at 4:40 pm

    I love the coat “tales”! Both coats look like a YES to me on you ladies! Good choices all around!

  • Reply
    December 13, 2018 at 6:35 pm

    Totally agree! That’s the story of all my best purchases. Something in you says YES – no matter how odd or impractical, and those turn out to be your favorite items!

  • Reply
    Nicole K
    December 13, 2018 at 11:28 pm

    This just happened to me last week! I have two coats, one blue, one black that are “fine.” They filled a spot, but I was never excited to wear them.

    Returning an item at a department store recently, I saw a black coat I loved. Went the dressing room and an identical blue one was there! Someone else had tried and rejected. Tried them both. Loved them both. Bought them. Came home and cleared out their placeholders.

    So happy!

  • Reply
    December 14, 2018 at 3:57 am

    Our (mine and my three daughters’ ) version of the YES test goes like this: if it isn’t a “hell, YES”, it’s a NO. And we usually know within a minute of trying something on which category it fits into. Sometimes, though, I do have to text one of them to remind me of our mantra, when I’m trying to convince myself into a purchase.

  • Reply
    December 14, 2018 at 9:23 am

    You both look so fabulous and happy–a happy ending, indeed! I sometimes give my clothes the “10” test on a scale of 1-10. If it’s something less than a 10 in the dressing room, it stays there…

  • Reply
    December 16, 2018 at 7:28 am

    It is so true- the items that are the “YES” make you feel more comfortable and confident. I love your boots. Would you kind sharing where you got them?

  • Reply
    Trinnie Q
    December 17, 2018 at 9:13 pm

    You two are just beautiful xx

  • Reply
    La semaine d'une gourmette
    December 18, 2018 at 6:32 am

    Your YES test is indeed a great test! I have another “name” for it: the “Do I feel like a princess?” test – if I try something on and it makes me feel like a princess, if I feel the “need” to have it (the way you did with that coat), then YES. Otherwise, even if it fits, no. I have enough clothes in my closet, I don’t need a “so-so” item.

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