1. Shop with Cash (Only!)I can't believe I am suggesting this, considering my former love affair with store credit, but the easiest way to save money on clothes is to only buy what you can afford, plain and simple. If you don't have money in your checking account for those $500 must-have boots, then you'll have to save up to get 'em. Suze Orman will be proud!
2. Hit the Discount ChainsSure, the big retailers can be hard to navigate and have their share of cheap distractions, but there are stylish bargains to be had at stores like T.J. Maxx and Target. Head to the former for great deals on shoes and handbags, and shop Target.com for the latest from their designer partners (you'll find great items online that may be unavailable at your local store).
Note: Just because a store is inexpensive doesn't mean you'll save any money - there is a tendency to "load up" your cart with all of the bargains, only to find you've racked up hundreds of dollars on non-essentials.
3. Shop Out of SeasonSeasoned shoppers never hit the mall when new clothes hit the racks. Shop for spring and summer items in the fall, and buy your fall and winter looks when spring rolls around.
If you pay attention to the fashion week previews, you can even shop the trends on a bargain, provided you choose looks that will be around for more than one season.
4. Look for Online DealsSign up for email newsletters from retailers, and they'll send you coupons and keep you abreast of their latest sales. There are entire websites devoted to mining the net for coupons, but searching through them can be a major time waster. These sites make the bargain hunting easier:
5. Don't Be Lured by a SaleIt is worth mentioning that all of those "sale" alerts and coupons can result in overspending (I am certain the Sephora emails alone have cost me hundreds), so think of the clothing deals like grocery store coupons and don't buy anything just because it's on sale.
6. Shop Trends CarefullyWhat to buy depends on your budget and the season, but some trends seem destined to pass quickly (harem pants, anyone?) and should be avoided by the budget-conscious. Spend the bulk of your wardrobe budget on quality pieces you can update around, and look for deals on the trendier looks.
- Do you have these 6 wardrobe essentials?
7. Think in Color PalattesBuilding a wardrobe around one or two color families can help you figure out what to buy (and avoid). If your entire closet is black and gray, for example, don't buy lots of navy, even if it's a hot trend. Keep your current wardrobe in mind when you shop, and don't buy anything that won't go with at least two or three other items that you own.
Whether the bulk of your wardrobe is black or brown (or both, if you're lucky), you can add color trends with shoes, handbags, scarves and accessories while you continue to build on the basics.