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Whether you're headed to the neighborhood boutiques with some friends or hitting the outlet mall for a critical seasonal stock-up, consider doing some prep work in advance of your shopping trip. Regardless of your goals, before you stroll out the door, credit card in hand, you'll probably want to:

Know your budget: No, really. Do NOT shop without knowing how much cash you have, and how much you can comfortably spend. Shopping blindly leads to shopping regret of one kind or another.

Inventory your closet: Annoying, but worth it. Many of us buy duplicates or near-duplicates, and that practice can be avoided by familiarizing yourself with your current wardrobe. And before you buy anything, ask yourself: Do I love this because it's perfectly "me" or because it's incredibly familiar?

Eat something: DO NOT shop on an empty stomach. You will become crabby and tired in under an hour.

Wear fitted underlayers: For easiest dressing room changes, I try to construct an outfit with a tight tank and leggings as the base. That way, I don't need to strip down to undies every single time and can still roughly gauge garment fit. I can also duck in and out of the fitting rooms more easily since my base layers stay on my bod.

Wear your hair up: If you've got long locks and will be trying on shirts or dresses, you're likely to give yourself Dandelion Head in no time flat. Tie your hair back.*

Consider footwear: If you're going to be doing a lot of walking, you'll want to wear comfortable shoes, of course. However, if you're shopping for dress pants and typically wear heels to work, bring an additional pair. Trying to eyeball pant length is nearly impossible.

Take breaks: If you're planning to shop from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., work in a lunch break and at least one other short break. You might be able to power through, but at a certain point you'll become overwhelmed and exhausted. Scheduled breaks will keep you focused and refreshed.

Drink water: Nothing parches my throat like hours of shopping. Tote a water bottle, hit a drinking fountain, or get a beverage on one of those aforementioned breaks.

Set a deadline: I'm sure that some of you have no trouble stopping shopping, but if I'm questing for something? I will run myself RAGGED looking for it. Giving myself a set number of hours to shop helps me keep from going overboard.

What are your guidelines for a successful shopping trip? Do you do any or all of these things? Other suggestions to add?

Image via weheartit.

*If you're shopping for a garment that will be worn with a specific hairstyle and you need to know how the two will interact, you can definitely get done up before you shop. But in my opinion, it's easier to shop with simple hair, then do a second round of try-ons at home with the fancier 'do and return what doesn't work.

Sally McGraw is the author of Already Pretty, a daily blog about the intersection of style and body image.