Secrets to Getting the Best Deals on Clothes & Shoes

While everyone else was at the grocery store buying all the milk and bread in anticipation for expected snow, I went to TJMaxx and scored BIG. Let me share with you how to get the best deals on clothes and shoes.

Black pumps with silver studs, black & white floral scarf and tweed bag

Super deals

  • O.P.I. 2-pack of nail polish for $7.99 (those go for $9 for each colour!)
  • Cynthia Rowley bag at $16.00 clearance price, that will match my grey d’Orsay pumps
  • Nine West bag to go with my yellow patent & cork slingback sandals (the bag was $34.99 vs the $89 MSRP manufacturer’s suggested retail price)
  • a set of two Nine West belts for $9.99 ($30 MSRP)
Grey handbag and grey D'Orsay pumps

The two bags will work great with the spring wardrobe I have been making, which is in yellow, greys, black and white.

Yellow handbag and yellow patent slingback sandals

The first step

To get the best deal, you need to know about brands, quality and the normal price.

One tip I give to my Garment Construction students is to go to a department store or boutique and look closely at high-end designer clothes (and shoes).

Wrap yourself up in quality

Try on clothing and shoes made by these top-of-the-line designers.

Look at how the seams are finished. What fabrics are they made of? Feel the fabric, and try it on to see how the garment drapes.

Look at expensive leather handbags, coats and shoes. Note what makes them feel and look different from man-made materials. Check how they fit and how comfortable the item feels.

Make note of the different name brands and their prices. Jot them down so you will remember!

Etch all of those experiences into your brain! This is what you will use to compare items at the store where you are really going to shop.

Now get the heck out of that expensive store!

Step 2 – now you can shop

Armed with your high-end product knowledge, you are ready to shop. Bring your list, look book and paint chip (click to the post where I explained this)!

Set your limits

Set a limit of what you will spend per item. Mine happens to be $25 for pants and tops. I won’t spend more than that on much of anything else – unless it is something I really, really want AND it’s a super good deal. And even then, it’s no more than $50ish. (with the exception of a gorgeous Coach bag that I had wanted since I first saw it in a magazine the month it came out. And I waited almost a year to get it – but for less than half price.)

Where to find the deals

Thrift stores

These stores can be real gold mines. I used to go to a local one that was run by hospital volunteers. Apparently, a lot of the donations were the clothes owned by doctors and doctor’s wives.

Imagine blazers – with the pockets still sewn shut – for under $10.

Once a year, they would have a sale where you could fill a paper grocery bag for $5. I managed to stuff a brand new, tags still on it Bellville Sassoon pale pink ball gown into a bag and snagged it for $5. (I needed it for a very formal event.)

Here is where you will look for those high-end brand names, and find them at rock-bottom prices.

Outlet stores

If you are lucky enough to live in an area with outlet stores, those will be your places to hit. Just watch out what they sell – some brands have an entire line designed and priced specifically for outlet sales. (These items are not necessarily a great deal.)

Some of my favourite outlet stores are Chico’s (they have a specific outlet line), Coach, Loft, LLBean (their clothes wear like iron) and Bass – to name a few.

I’ve gotten a Coach bag for less than 50% off the regular price, plus a $$ off coupon as I walked in the door at their outlet store.

DSW

And shoe websites like Zappo’s are the best places to get shoes. Hit the back of the store for the clearance racks.

Burlington Coat Factory

I have found brand names like Chico’s at Burlington, and for less than $5/item. It’s also where I found a 100% cashmere full length dress coat for $298.

T.J. Maxx and Marshall’s

These stores carry name brands at extremely low prices. One of my most treasured finds is a pair of black, lined, cotton Adrienne Vittadini pants. The regular price was $250, but I bought them at Marshall’s for $25. I have worn them countless times, and over 15 years later, still wear them.

Websites

Go to the website of a name brand, and only look at the SALE and CLEARANCE pages. The idea here, and overall, is to…

NEVER PAY FULL PRICE. EVER.

Go to the back of the store

When you walk, into any store – outlet or regular – head for the clearance racks.

Don’t even look at the regular priced items, except to make note of what to look for on the clearance racks in a month or two.

It’s routine for stores to make room for the new season’s stock by marking down everything and putting it on clearance. You might not get the latest, trendy items as soon as they hit the store, but remember – you are looking for the classics anyway.

If you absolutely must have a trendy item or two, it’s okay to get them at H&M. But don’t overdo it! Those trendy items look cute for about a month, and then they are out of style.

Patience – a virtue AND a money-saver

You are not going to find everything all in one shopping trip. Keep your look book, list and paint chips handy, and always be on the lookout for the items that will complete your wardrobe.

So what was your greatest bargain? Do tell!!

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