How to Save on the Fashions You Crave

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

When formulating a budget, extras like clothing are usually the first thing to go. If you’re trying to save money, there simply aren’t enough coupons or sales to make shopping at Nordstrom or Bloomingdale’s even remotely possible. And while department stores like Macy’s, Dillard’s, and JC Penny are a bit more affordable, they simply don’t give a good enough mark-down to justify a shopping spree, even on super sale days (plus, by the time they offer worthwhile discounts, the only sizes left are XS and XXL, or instead of the very-now lavender top, you can only find it in drab khaki). Luckily, there are many resources for the frugal fashionista on a tight budget.

1. Sample sales. If you live in an urban area, you can take advantage of designers blowing out their sample wares at the end of the season. Wholesale showrooms are generally only open to those in the trade, but many will open their doors to the public periodically to clear out old merchandise at bargain basement prices, so check in to find out when those sales are scheduled to get the designer brands you love at a fraction of the cost.

2. Online sales. For the many Americans living in small towns with little access to fashion amenities, the internet is a great way to shop. And there are a number of websites that cater to the penny-pinching fashion maven. For example, Hautelook and Beyond the Rack are member-driven services (free to sign up) that offer up to 70% off designer brands. The catch: you have to keep an eye on your email since they usually only have a limited number of items that sell out quickly.

3. Discount stores. While staples like TJ Maxx and Ross offer pretty good prices on department store brands, options are often out of date. To get designer brands new, look to one of the many discount clothing stores that contract big names to design affordable brands. For example, Kohl’s offers lines by Vera Wang, Lauren Conrad, and Daisy Fuentes (gorgeous clothes at great prices) while Target has a constantly spinning wheel of designers like Isaac Mizrahi, Todd Oldham, Zac Posen, and even Jean Paul Gaultier.

4. Outlet stores. While many of these stores offer a discount on merchandise from last season, their blow-out sales can present astronomical savings. If there aren’t any outlet malls in your area, look online. Stores like Gap, Nike, J. Crew, Coach, and many others either have their own online outlets or they sell through sites like iCompany Stores & Outlets.

5. Buy second hand. There are literally millions of websites that offer consignment sales on new (ish) and vintage designer clothing. This is by far the most expensive option, as most of these sites cater to the couture shopper, but if you’re looking for a special piece, you can get it for half or less this way.

Thomas Warren is a content writer for Go College, one of the oldest and most trusted resources to guide students on how to finance and succeed in college.

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