Tuesday, March 9, 2010

How to Build a Great but REALLY Cheap Wardrobe - Part II

In my last blog, I gave you the shopping rules that can help prevent utter wastes of money. And although this installment is a little late - Here is How to Build a Great but Really Cheap Wardrobe - Part II.

Let me first give you The Golden Rule of Shopping: DO NOT PAY FULL PRICE FOR ANYTHING! Your shopping goal should always be to get what you want for as cheaply as you can. You may have to cultivate a little patience and garner some shopping skill, but it can be done. Having said that let's get to it.

1. Shop the clearance rack first: Whether you are in Target, Nordstrom’s, or the Salvation Army, shop the sale rack or clearance first. Period. Walk past all the new stuff and head right to the back of the store. Your shopping Mantra should become "Get to the clearance...get to the clearance..."

2. Combine as many discounts and offers as possible: I bought this two piece dress and coat set from Macy's for $44.00 that was originally about $149.00. The dress (not shown) is a simple black sheath. The jacket is a well made Asian inspired brocade. First, it was already marked down, second they were having an early bird special, and third, I had a coupon. The perfect storm. Check your newspapers and sign-up online for coupons, then shop accordingly. Everything goes on sale; you just have to be patient.

3. Shop the Discount Stores: You can find the same department store styles and designers at discount chains like Ross, Marshalls, Filene's Basement and TJMaxx. These stores host the hot and trendy along with the basic and classic. The great thing is they offer them at all price points. However, even at the discount store, shop the clearance racks first. Where else can you find an Ann Taylor dress for $9.99?

4. Shop the "teen-agery" spots: OK, you may cringe if you are over 35. If you are like me, you walk by those windows with mannequins dressed in ripped up tights and platform shoes and say to yourself, "Hun??" But seriously, these shops have tons of hidden gems and are usually very inexpensive. Let me dispel a myth about quality, just because you buy something at a department store do not think you are getting better quality. Many times you are simply paying a higher price tag.  No matter where you shop, get the best quality you can.

My favorite is Forever 21 where they have a huge variety of styles, sizes and great prices. They also have fabulous clearance racks and most of the store is on sale. Last summer I bought this cotton floral cocktail dress for $19.99 to wear at a wedding reception. Not for everyone I know, but I had fun wearing it. The black dress I bought for $4.99 (including belt) at Rave sometime before and was actually better made than some of my more expensive dresses. I was almost 40 pounds heavier - but I still loved the way I looked. The message is you can shop these stores and still look like a grown woman, unless of course, you don't want to. 
5. Shop the Auctions and Online Sites: The best thing to ever happen to my shopping life was eBay. The best because I simply type into eBay's search engine what I want and watch the hundred of options come up. Until I became addicted. Buying too much at the wrong time is no deal! eBay takes skill, which I will cover in an upcoming blog. But once you understand the rules and best practices for a buyer, you can really get fabulous deals on expensive designer items. Two quick tips: Buy only from sellers with great feedback, detailed listings and photos.

My best find was an authentic $1500 Louis Vuitton Bag second-hand for $200. (which is the most money I have spent on clothes/accessories EVER!!!!) Remember - its all relative. Big ticket purchases are not for novices, but after you get the system down - you can find your dream items for a fraction of the cost. eBay is not the only on-line avenue for deals there is blufly.com, amazon.com and overstock.com. Even Goodwill has an auction site. If there is a specific designer or item of clothing you want, go to the auction sites first and do a search. Hundreds of options may pop up! Last online auction tip: Beware of high shipping costs. Your deal can be blown in an instant if you pay $30. 00 in shipping costs for a $10.00 item!

6. Frequent Thrift Stores and Consignment Shops: I must admit that at least 80% of my clothing is second hand. The first rule of second hand shopping is still - go to the clearance rack first! You may think the Salvation Army would not have a discount section, but they do. Many large thrift stores have customer appreciation and/or discount days. I only shop Mondays and Thursdays at my fav thrift store because I get 25% off!! Can you believe I actually have a VIP card? Thrift stores are the PERFECT place to stock up on your favorite designer and labels. Sometimes you can also score items normally may be out of your price range. Tip: Try to find secondhand shops in upscale neighborhoods, some of the donations are unbelievable. Remember, most thrift stores support great causes.

Consignment shops are great for people who do not like the thrift store environment. They are usually well organized, clean and have a knowledgeable sales staff. Consignment shops always have a sales rack that is usually stocked with designer and high-end labels. Be warned however, some are notoriously overpriced for non-designer items. I once saw a Target purse for over 20 bucks. Come on?!?!?  Really?  Other great second hand options are church thrift stores, school flea markets and estate sales.

Stores you wouldn't be caught dead in: Okay, all those stores you pass by in the strip malls, next to the beauty parlor or favorite Chinese place may have hidden bargains. These small independent shops always have sells going on and surprisingly some beautiful inexpensive clothing. These are also great places to find accessories and cheap costume jewelry.

In summary: Never pay full price for anything ever again! Shop those sale and clearance racks! Laugh in the face of 20% off and step away with something great on the cheap. It absolutely can be done. You can build a cheap beautiful quality wardrobe for little money. 

Next Blog - Do your clothes tell people who you are?  See ya then.


1 comment:

  1. Hey All,

    I know the weather is warming up, but I wish the temperature would drop so I can continue to sport my vintage faux chita from cjs red closet. I just feel so glamorous when I wear it. By the way, it was hand picked for me. Carla really does have a great sense of style.