Updated: Apr 7, 2020
Let's be honest... I LOVE to shop, especially at Lilly Pulitzer! I'm a strong believer in retail therapy and find myself heading towards the nearest mall anytime I need a pick-me-up. I don't need a drink or a video chat with my ladies, but to be inspired by lots of bright, exciting new pieces of fashion. It can be quite expensive though. It can be quite challenging to just browse, or "window shop", instead of always swiping that credit card. Adding new pieces to your collection might be nice, but your wallet will certainly be crying later. I recently learned a few shopping tips from my latest late-night read "City Chic - An Urban Girl's Guide to Livin' Large on Less" by Nina Willdorf. This book has so many money-saving tips and tricks to live like a high-class woman for less, but the fashion section grabbed my attention the most.
1. BUDGET, BUDGET, BUDGET!
The most important rule of spending - NEVER spend more than you can afford. Do you budget your money every month? Do you know how much free money you have? Will you still be able to afford rent if you buy those Birkenstocks? Before you reach for your wallet, map out your finances. Calculate your average bills (gas, groceries, rent, loans, utilities, etc.) and see how much you have left to play with. This will help keep you from overspending every month and digging yourself a hole.
2. Never Purchase the First Item You See
Are you shopping for a little black dress? Never settle for the first one you see. For one, there might be a better, cheaper one somewhere else. Sure, you could always buy the dress and return it, but that's such a hassle. If you find one you love, ask the store to put it on hold (most stores will until the end of the day) and then shop around. You can always come back to that piece if you don't find anything better.
3. Look at the Care Tag
What is the item made out of? Silk? Cotton? Linen? Did you know that an item is more likely to cost more if it says "dry clean only"? You already paid a lot for the item, so you shouldn't have to keep throwing out money to launder it. Think about the cost to care for that item before you purchase it.
*Tip: If you absolutely can't live without that dry clean only item, try purchasing an "at-home dry cleaning kit". It'll save you lots of money in the long run.
4. Test Out the Material
Inspect that item like you're checking out a boy for the first time. Are there any flaws? Rips? Tears? Pilling? Will the fabric hold out? There are a few ways you can test the material to be sure:
- Bunch a chunk of fabric in your hand for five seconds. Do the wrinkles last long? If not, it passed the test.
- Rub two pieces of the fabric together. Can you start to see pills form? If so, let it go and move on. It definitely won't last long in the wash.
5. Beware of the Sale
Everyone loves a good sale. You can get tons of pieces for much less than retail price. I know I love to save money, so I'm always checking out the latest sale. However, don't let that sale sticker overpower your final decision. That shirt might 75% off, but does it actually flatter you? If you bring it home, are you actually going to wear it? No matter how cheap or discounted an item might be, NEVER purchase something that doesn't look good on you. Put the item back and save your money for something better. It's better to spend $70 on one item you're going to wear to death, instead of $70 on 12 items that barely leave your closet.
6. Shop in the Off-Season
If you shop for clothes out-of-season, you are more likely to snag a better deal. Most companies rely heavily on supply and demand, so if you buy a swimsuit during spring break, it's likely to cost you more. Learn when the perfect time to buy each item is and watch out for end-of-season sales. Stores need to make room for the upcoming season, so they often markdown last season's items to a fantastic price. But remember, no price is right if the fit isn't perfect.
7. Pick the Best Day to Shop
Did you know there are better days to shop than others? The three key days to shop are Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday and here's why:
- Tuesday: Even though most sales say they start on Thursday or Friday, many actually start on Tuesday. You can grab the best deals (and your size!) before everyone flocks to the store to get that same deal.
- Thursday: Many stores call Thursday "sale day". After an item has been on the floor for 8 to 12 weeks, stores will reduce the price and add it to their sale rack. Store employees also often know what's about to go on sale, so make friends with the employees and get the inside scoop for the week!
- Friday: What better way to end a long work week than hitting the weekend's top sales? You can grab first dibs on sales, relieve some stress, and reward yourself for the week!
8. ALWAYS Keep Your Receipts
Most stores have a price adjustment policy, so keep your receipt and watch for sales! If that skirt you just bought goes on sale 2 days later, you can most likely get some money back. Some stores will honor prices from two weeks up to a month, but it varies by store. So, search a store's website, receipt, and counter signs to learn about their price adjustment policy.
9. Check Out Your Local Thrift Store
It really is true that "one man's trash is another man's treasure." You can find some amazing pieces at a thrift store that can become a major staple in your wardrobe. I, personally, love thrifting and the thrill it gives me. I've found so many high-end, brand-new pieces for amazing prices. However, be wary of the area you're thrifting in. The worse the area is, the rougher the store is going to be. I like to thrift in higher-class, fancier areas because that's where I find some of the greatest pieces.
10. Venture Outside the Women's Section
Have you ever looked in the men's or boy's section? Why not? You can find amazing basic pieces for much less than the women's section. You just have to find your size equivalency. I'm normally a size 7.5 in shoes, but I can wear a boy's 6. I also wear a size S or M in shirts, but can wear a boy's size 14-16. Let me tell you, boy's clothes are WAY cheaper than women's, so you better believe I'm buying my work shoes from the boy's section! You don't need to buy everything from the boy's section, but there are some items that don't matter (tanks, work shoes, fitness clothes, etc.) that don't need a women's label to be perfect.
Before reading this book, I honestly never considered some of these shopping tips. I definitely learned a lot more ways to save money and make the most of my wardrobe. These tips are so important that I couldn't wait to share them with my readers. Have you ever used some of these tips before? If not, let me know what you're most excited about trying!