Earlier this week, Willie Peacock offered great tips to our gentlemen readers about building a professional wardrobe on a budget. The ladies, however, were none-too-pleased that Monsieur Peacock had no advice for filling our female readers’ closets.
To make it up to you, I’m going to start sharing my secrets on how, where, and when to snag the best deals. Since you’re reading this on the Internet, let’s start with tips about online shopping.
Comparison Shopping. Any major search engine -- Google, Bing, even Yahoo! -- has a shopping tab. By searching for a brand and style name (example: FancyBrand Tanya style shoes) within the shopping tab, you can find which website is offering the best deal on whatever you want. Before whipping your credit card out, find out if your purchase can be returned, and check to see if the website offers free shipping and returns.
Daily Deals. Who isn't offering some kind of daily deal these days? Two of my favorites -- Bloomspot and PopSugar Shop -- will send you daily emails advertising sales, often with special promo codes that will give you an additional discount. Groupon and Living Social frequently have deals to buy $50 worth of store credit with a brand for $25, (or some kind of comparable offer.) To manage all those deals, try YipIt, which will aggregate the promos according to your geographic location and interests, and send them to you in a single email.
Flash-Sale Sites. Gilt, ideeli, MyHabit, Rue La La. There are plenty of flash sale options, but they don't always offer the lowest prices. Your best bet: Sign on to the site as soon as the sale opens, get all of the items you want in your cart, and quickly run searches to compare the flash sale price to a traditional transaction price. I once found a pair of shoes $30 cheaper on Amazon than on Gilt. Many flash sale items are final sale, so read the fine print before you buy.
Always check Amazon. I can't even count the number of times I have found the best (read: lowest price) shoe deals on Amazon. Amazon has an incredible shoe selection, a growing apparel selection, and some items can be returned for free.
eBay. You can find some amazing buys on eBay. (Personally, I stick with dresses, purses, and tops; I cringe at the thought of wearing used pants or shoes.) If you like designer clothes, but don't have a designer budget, eBay can be your best friend. But it can also be a way to get scammed. After a few bad experience with eBay knockoff sellers, I now only order pre-owned items from sellers within the U.S. Ask plenty of questions and request additional photos before bidding. Most pre-owned items are final sale. Send your finds out for dry cleaning when they arrive.
Buying online has its ups and downs, but if you're familiar with a brand, (and you have a good tailor and dry cleaner), it's one of the easiest ways to save money on your wardrobe.