As a follow up to the 2018 Fashion budget post I did 2 weeks ago, I wanted to touch on how I shop. Shopping smart is so important these days. To be honest, most fashion retailers have a mark-up of over 70% of cost. Of course I understand mark-up’s like this are necessary to provide quality employees at Brick-and-Mortar retail locations, and to ensure a business itself is successful. However, I never ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever buy full price, but I also rarely purchase “clearance” items. In this post you’ll find some tips and tricks I’ve picked up over the years to maximize your budget with any of your favorite retail locations, so you never have to pay full price again. <3
Little side note: I probably need to shout out my Grandmother, Carol Graham on here because she is not only who I inherited my love of shopping and fashion from, she also taught & instilled in me -from a very early age (we’re talking like maybe 5 years old picking out a Sunday dress at Dillard’s) that you should never have to pay full price for anything. There’s always a deal to find, and patience is a virtue when it comes to getting designer deals.
Get on your favorite stores email lists. This is easily done by providing your email at check out, or visiting the stores website. Most websites even have a coupon pop up, where you get $$ or % off your first online purchase as a thank you for becoming an email subscriber. Just so you know all the major retail chains: Express, Old Navy, Gap, LOFT, any bigger store like that will offer a minimum of 40% off AND an additional 50% off clearance at least one weekend per quarter. They’ll send out emails a few times a week alerting you to new arrivals and their current promotions, as well as even sending you some great email coupons here and there for cash or extra % off, so signing up for their email list is an effective way to be sure you don’t miss out on the GREAT sales. Sure it can get a little spammy in your inbox, but honestly is it really THAT big of a deal to delete a few emails a day to ensure you know when that 50% off is happening or snag an extra $25 off coupon?
Shop with Intention. To prevent myself from taking a little light afternoon shopping to a small spree level, anytime I go shopping now, I have an intention. For example this weekend I know I want to go shopping. I didn’t really use much of my clothing budget in January and since losing a few lbs I’d really like to update my closet a little bit with some more figure flattering pieces. I know that on my shopping trip this weekend, to stick to my budget, I can look for 2-3 tops, 2 skirts, 2 dresses and one pair of pants. I don’t have to buy all that this weekend either, but it’s good to know what I’m looking for so that I don’t overspend. With that in mind I do have some wiggle room for an EXTREMELY good find, but going out shopping with a game plan is so helpful. I know which stores I definitely want to shop in, so that if I’m “iffy” about a piece in the fitting room of one store, I can simply put it on hold and pick it up later in the day if it’s a piece I don’t stop thinking about. This allows me to really KNOW that I love something and not waste money on quick decisions that I’ll only wear once.
Shop Online, Then In-Store, Then Online. You don’t have to do this totally that exact way all the time, but allow me to explain. When I know I’ll be shopping soon, I shop all my favorite stores online to check out what I like. In-store inventory isn’t always the same as online, so when I find something that I like online- I make an effort to try it on in-store and either purchase in-store that day if it’s a good enough deal- or go back home and monitor the price of the item once a week until it’s at least 30% off or I have some kind of rewards or coupon to use that makes it at least 30% off. Knowing what you really love ahead of time gives you the opportunity to strike as soon as the sale hits.
Trust Your Gut. Both literally when trying on, and figuratively when shopping online. If you try something on and it just doesn’t feel right, don’t talk yourself into it by thinking of cute events or different ways to “tweak” it. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve bought something because it’s a really great deal knowing it can “make it work” with something and then I never wear it. If it doesn’t make you smile the second you put it on, it’s not something you allow to clutter your closet. When shopping online, if you don’t have the ability to try it on, still be sure you really light up when looking at the item and are 100% positive about the fit of the item.
Know Your Stores Sale Seasons. Every retail store has a different retail season. Most stores I’ve worked in or around get a big round of new product once a month, and a small trend update once a month. Everytime new product comes in- the previous product shifts back further and further in the store until it’s in the clearance section. I’d say from the moment something sets foot on the sales floor it’ll be a part of clearance within 12-14 weeks at most mall stores. This shifts when talking about major department stores. For example Nordstrom does 2 huge sales a year so when shopping a major place like that it’s important to be sure you know when the anniversary sale is happening for your designer pieces (I personally like shopping handbags, free people, madewell, bauble bar, sunglasses and shoes for the #nsale) The best way to find out the season of your retail store is to ask an associate “when is the next time you’ll get new product?” they’ll either say this is all new stuff, or they’re next floorset is in two weeks, or next month etc… use this answer to determine whether or not you can wait to purchase. For example, if I walked into Express and saw 40% off new arrivals I would DEFINITELY purchase that day, however if there was no sale on new arrivals, but they were getting new product within the next 2 weeks, I’d know to wait for a better deal.
My next post in this series will share with you how I saved almost $200 on my latest splurge: a Henri Bendel handbag & a pair of Karen Walker Sunglasses as well as what I purchased in January with my 2018 Fashion Budget.
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