My shopping strategy used to be walk in a store and zoom right past all the full-priced items toward the sale section. I'd buy the cheapest thing there, and even if I didn't need it, hey, it's only $10! I would buy whatever I saw and liked, and didn't really have a list of what I needed. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with shopping right in the sale section, there are smarter and more economical ways to shop which I've learned the past few years. I now keep a clothing budget in Excel to track my purchases and keep myself in check. My tips for getting good deals are listed below:
1. Don't be afraid to shop full price
But it doesn't mean you need to buy. A bad habit of mine was frequently shopping "final sale" items online because they're so cheap, and then they wouldn't fit when they arrive. I've learned to scour the new arrivals and try on what I think I might like, so when it does become final sale I already know if it works or not.
2. Secondary shops can be your friend
You can find some great deals in places like eBay, Etsy, and consignment shops. I've gotten designer items that I know will work (see point 1 above) at these places for much cheaper than I would have elsewhere. I'm not afraid of gently used items. Do keep an eye out for imposters though!
3. Keep a Wish List
It's always a good idea to go shopping with things you need in mind. Impulse buying is fun and can be okay, but don't buy that dress if you really need some new boots. I keep a Wish List in Excel going of items I need and other items I love that I'm keeping an eye on. It helps me balance my shopping habits and get what I really need first. Shop a few of my wish list items below:
4. Look out for Holiday Weekends
There are ALWAYS sales on holiday weekends, or "Just Because" weekends. Don't impulse buy, but be strategic and wait for and even better sale. Signing up for emails or following specific blogs (Effortless Anthropologie and J Crew Aficionada are great), will help alert you to what's coming up. However, this leads us to point 5...
5. Don't always be tempted by the "S" word
While it's great to buy something on sale, the word SALE can be deceiving. A lot of stores will have an item (for example) $50 on sale regularly. But then you get a 30% off coupon in your email and the item has jumped to $65. Now the sale isn't that big of a deal. And as I've pointed out before, watch out for final sale items if you've never tried it on before.
6. Know what to splurge on and what to pass
Sometimes it's okay to spend a little more on certain items - it's all about what you'll get out of it. Ever heard of cost per wear? Say you buy a nice winter coat for $150, and wear it 3 times a week for the winter (let's call that 4 months). This coat will probably last you 3 years.
3 times a week * 4 weeks per month * 4 months * 3 years = 144 times
$150 / 144 wears = $1.04 per wear
Now if we apply that same logic to a cute top you got that you want to wear out with friends. Let's say it's $50 and you wear it 5 times before it falls apart or you get bored of it. $50 / 5 wears = $10.00 per wear.
Now, the cost per wear you are comfortable with is all up to you. It depends on what items you wear the most often and even how much you love an item. Yes, LOVE per wear is a real thing too. You might wear those $100 shoes 5 times a year, but if they make you feel great and boost your confidence, go for it! But keep cost per wear in mind next time you're shopping and are tempted by that sparkly thing in the corner. Things I typically spend a little bit more on: jeans, coats, certain shoes (winter boots, plain heels), and purses. I may stray from this sometimes, but I always keep it in mind.