Sunday, August 29, 2010

Tips for Finding Fashion Deals

Ahhh... the smell of a leather jacket...the sparkle of a sequins tank...the way you feel in perfect-fitting jeans! As many of your know, I'm passionate about fashion. I frequently get asked where I find the clothing that I wear, so I made up this list of tips for finding fashion deals.

1. Never Pay Full Price. At most of the big retailers--J Crew, Banana Republic, Gap, Ann Taylor Loft, Ann Taylor--they introduce new collections at the beginning of EVERY month. That's new inventory every month folks. That also means they need to move last month's inventory. In addition to marking most items down within two months of them being in the stores, they constantly send out discount coupons via mail and email. Get on the email lists of your favorite stores. Oh, and by waiting, you may miss out on a super hot item, c'est la vie! If you like it THAT much, buy it at full price.

2. Get the card. If you know you can pay it off every month, be sure to get the credit card of your favorite place. I don't recommend getting a credit card for every store you frequent, just your favorite. Not only do you get emails each week with discounts, but everytime you use it you stock up points for rewards cards.

I have a Banana Republic. You can use the rewards at BR, Gap, Piperlime and Old Navy. You HAVE to be able to pay it off every month though, the interest rates on the cards are ridiculous. And, some cards require you to buy way too much to get points, so they're not worth it. From my research good ones are: Ann Taylor and Ann Taylor Loft, Banana Republic/Gap/Old Navy and Macys. Not so good: J Crew and Neiman Marcus (unless you spend A LOT.) Got a suggestion for a good card? Let me know!

3. eBay is your friend. Those who know me know I have a bit of a thing for boots and leather jackets. Crazy since I live in Florida, but it is what it is! Well, both can be expensive. Of my, er, collection, at least half were purchased on eBay and most of them were new and at half the retail price. How do I do it? That's another post. But, I'll tell you this, you have to know your size in the brand you want and you have to know the retail price. You also should shop at the end of the season (after Christmas) or in August. That's when most people start listing their fall items on ebay. Oh, and if you're going skiing this winter, start shopping NOW on ebay for those ski clothes.

4. Accessories. I can't tell you how many friends and family members have shopped my accessories! You can find great belts, bracelets and scarves anywhere. I love Target! Don't discount stores such as Forever 21 and Wal Mart. You'd be surprised at what you can find. Sophie and Trey has some awesome jewelry at really good prices. TJ Maxx just had a $15 necklace that was identical to a $60 one from JCrew. Again, check out some of the higher end websites, get an idea of what you like and then find duplicates at the discount stores.

5. Window shop designer; buy the cheap stuff. For trendy items, go well made but cheap. I always shop the designer sites, check out fashion magazines and browse Bergdorf and Neiman's. You'll see what's in and then can check out which mass retailers have copies. For example, Alice & Olivia has an awesome sequins tank top. Price: $300. Well, guess what? Ann Taylor Loft, Inc. at Macys and some other stores have a version too--at a much more realistic price.

6. Buy the basics. Did you know that Wal-Mart has awesome tee shirts? They're stretchy and thick and super cheap. Since tee shirts don't last more than one season, why would you pay the price of Gap, JCrew or other stores? I buy all of my tank tops and plain tee shirts at Target and Wal-Mart. In fact, Wal-Mart actually has a few items that will surprise you. And Target has some v-neck boyfriend tee shirts that I live in. At Wal-Mart, I once bought a pair of satin-look tuxedo pants for $10 and they fit so well, no one knew they weren't expensive. With the cheap stuff, it's all about fit. If the seam is crooked, the shirt is too short or the pants gap, pass on the item.

It does take some work and planning to build a wardrobe you love. Because it's a passion of mine, it doesn't seem like work. I read magazines, browse online sites, read blogs and seek out information. I have a whole folder of ripped-out magazine pages that feature looks I want to duplicate or items I'd like to buy.

Check back, I'm going to do a series of articles on fashion, including one on how to score on ebay!

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