1. Take advantage of clothes you already have in your closet. For example, if you have a great skirt but nothing to go with it, a whole new outfit is an unnecessary expense when all it will take is a new jacket or blouse. A plain dress that you are tired of wearing might be perked up by a fabulous new scarf. Make a list of the fashion pieces you need before you head out to shop. In addition, you might carry along a shopping bag filled with anything that needs to be matched.
2. Become friendly with sales clerks at stores you like to shop. They can be a wonderful source of information. They can tell you when sales will be held and when final markdowns will be taken on merchandise. You might even be able to get someone to hold a special item for you, something you’ve been watching as it goes through a price reduction.
3. Make your computer your shopping companion. Consider online auction sites for all of your clothing needs. Hundreds of bargains are available every day. Look for sellers with a solid record of positive feedback. Comparison shop for online bargains using sites such as that listed in the sources below. For buying shoes, you can’t beat some of the online sources for great prices on footwear, especially those that allow you free postage—both for your order and for items that need to be returned.
4. Take advantage of the incredible buys at consignment shops. These stores are full of nearly new items that women have turned over to the store to sell, giving the sellers a percentage of the profit. This is a particularly good source for dressy clothes, as the women who bring clothes in have often purchased a special occasion dress that they would not want to wear again. And you might consider bringing in some of your own clothes to be put up on consignment; in this case you might be given a discount or “trade-in” for an item you would like to purchase.
5. Buy at the end of the season. Look for sales, especially at large department stores, where the season’s merchandise is hugely discounted. In addition to the 75 percent off they eventually offer, stores may also run coupons for an additional percentage off–for as much as an additional 40 percent–in the local newspaper during the days of the sale. A $100 dress, under such circumstances, would sell for $15.
Top tip: Don’t wait to find a special occasion dress at the last minute. Buy a couple of dressy outfits whenever you see them at bargain prices; they’ll be waiting in your closet for you when you need them.