Anyone can be a great shopper - all it takes is a little training and a pocketful of coupons.
You want to hit the big stores first. While tiny boutiques are awesome for browsing, but if you are looking for the best sales, try the major chain stores first. With so much merchandise to turnover, they are way more likely to mark stuff down, especially around the holidays.
- Know what looks good on you. Just because it looks great in a magazine does not mean that it will look great on you. Be honest with yourself about your body. It will save you time and money.
- Pricing. The price of the item, just reflects the quality of the item. You should base the value of an item, particularly in the case of shopping on a budget, on how much you will actually use the item. Try the Cost Per Wear formula - it will help you assess the value through the simple equation. Divide the cost of the item by the number of times you will wear it in a given period. For example, if the shirt is $100 and you are going to wear it 20 times, it has a cost per wear of $5. The goal is to shoot for a CPW of less than $3. Remember, you want to be able to look at clothes, especially, as "Wow, I will wear this every day", compared to "Wow, this is so cheap!".
- Leave your debit and credit cards at home. Paying with cash gives you an instead visual indication of how much you are actually spending.
- Outlet malls. Shopping at the outlets of your favorite stores and designers can save you a bundle.
- Remember the 70/30 rule. Fashionistas with limited budgets should follow this rule: 70% of your closet should be classic pieces, 30% trendy pieces. Go as cheap as possible on trendy items, because they have a short closet lifespan; purchase these pieces at stores like H&M, Target, Forever 21, Wet Seal, Urban Outfitters, etc. Go designer on classic pieces like black suits, coats, evening wear and purses.
- Recycle. Pay a visit to your mother and/or grandmother. While you are there, offer to help clean out their closets. You will be amazed at the goodies you will find.
- When and Where? July/August and late January/February are the best time to hit the stores for deals. The top sample sales usually happen between Mother's Day and Father's Day and after Christmas. Write down the names of your favorite stores, go to their websites, and register to receive coupons, special invitations, and notifications of new products. Outlets stores are also great sources for designer goods.
- Shopping List. Making a shopping list will help you stay focused on the shopping task at hand and reduce splurge purchases.
- Thrift Store. Use thrift stores to add a bit of originality to your wardrobe. Search for pieces like vintage jewelry, designer dresses and quality inexpensive coats.
- Know the names of sale associates. Sale associates are a great source of information on upcoming sales and have access to Friends and Family Coupons, which offer up to an additional 25% off store merchandise. Some might even let you use their employee discounts.
For more information on how to budget for fashion, click here.