Like many of you, I am going through a hard economic time. We are in a recession, many people have been laid off from their jobs and we all may be feeling pressure to save money just in case. Fashion need not go by the wayside. I have decided that I will allow myself one fashion purchase per month to keep me happily inspired and looking posh. In addition I will save money on this monthly purchase by shopping sales racks. I have been enjoying the plunder from the clearance racks. I am so excited because many of the pricier items that were hot for the holidays are on clearance now. I got this great ruffle top last month for half price. It happens to be my very favorite color of pink- true magenta. The ruffles are so lux and made of silk. Both the ruffles and the color are projected to be in style this spring. In short this is quite a find. This month I treated myself to this great 3/4 sleeve cardigan that will bring me right into the spring and summer months. It's a white, black and grey leopard print which I love because it's a neutral print that looks great with any pop of color. It also has a Chanel-esk feel to it, in that it has a cool silk trim with rhinestone and sequin embellishments.
We all shop the clearance rack because we like to save money. Often we get caught up in quantity rather than quality when we shop for clearance items. It is easy to justify to ourselves that since we are spending less money per item we can buy more items. rather than actually saving money we spend the same amount we had planned on spending on the said item. We actually waste money because we buy stuff we will never end up wearing. below I give several bits of wisdom that will assist you in saving money and building a wearable wardrobe. The first step is to look through the clearance rack and select all the items that are pleasing to your eye, load up and get a dressing room. Try on all the clothes then evaluate each item as follows.
EVALUATE THE ITEM
1) Try before you buy. Make sure the item fits you well. If the item is ill fitting it is not a value put it in the discard pile and move on. If the item needs to be tailored ask yourself will you, actually take the time to hem the pants or pay to get them hemmed. If you probably wont make that effort it is a discard.
2) Inspect Item for quality. Is the item well made? Is it a brand you trust? It leather or PVC? Is it cotton or polyester? Is it wool or acrylic? is it satin or silk? Obviously some materials are worth more than others, so make sure you are not paying a cashmere price for an acrylic sweater. That is not a deal no matter how good it looks on you. Is it sturdy? Is it reinforced at stress points? Will it pill or shed? Will it fade or is it fade resistant? Will it shrink or has it been preshrunk? Also look for signs that it is a well made item. If a jacket is fully lined it is a better investment than a cheaper jacket that is unlined. Quality items are worth more and will last longer. look for other tale tell signs of quality. Are their special or unique details? does the pattern match up at the seams? Is it made of a quality fabric? Is it a designer label?
3) Make sure the item is not damaged. If there are holes in the body of the fabric or there are stains it should be considered a discard. However if the damages are easily fixed such as a missing button and it has an extra button attached to the tag. Or there is a small area where a thread has unraveled on the SEAM you may consider it only if you plan to repair the item.
4) Read the care instructions. If the item is dry clean only, are you willing to pay for dry cleaning? If the item is hand wash only are you willing to hand wash the item? respecting the proper care instructions for various fabrics extends the life of your garment. If you are not going top care for it properly then you won't be saving money if ruin it by improper care. I also look to see if it wrinkles easily. I hate to iron on a daily basis sop if the garment needs to be ironed constantly it is not something I will wear often so I know that the cost per wear will be significantly higher for that garment because I won't get as much use out of it.
5) Know the return policy on clearance items before you buy. If you are not sure about an item for any reason make sure it can be returned before you buy it. If the item is final sale, ask the sales clerk to place it on hold so you can think about it before making your decision. Do not buy items that you are unsure about unless you know you can return them for a full refund.
CALCULATE THE VALUE
6) Ask yourself if the item fits into your current wardrobe and life style. Here is when we begin to consider the actual value of the garment. think about all the other items you have at home. will this item be an outcast or will it fit in nicely with other things you own. for example my new cardigan can be worn with jeans and a blouse for work, with a dress for evening, on the weekend with a brightly colored tee shirt. I can think of several shirts I can pair it with and several dresses it would complement. I can also think of many situations in which this sweater would be appropriate. If you buy the item and you have nothing to wear it with you may end up spending more money trying to build a look or you may never end up wearing the item. I once bought a lime green hand bag with embroidered flowers on it, at 40% off. I had nothing that was lime green in my entire wardrobe and the only thing I could wear it with was various combinations of black or white....BORING. So, In retrospect this was not a bargain purchase for my life style.
7) Ask yourself if the item is a timeless classic or a fad trend. do not purchase items that will be out of style in a few months. The item is on the clearance rack because the fad has already passed. Sure the item may come back in style eventually but if you want to save money pass on these items. Examples would include neon brights, tee shirts with sayings, crazy prints or novelty items. a trendy item looks like a pop star would wear it on stage or in a music video. A classic item is any item that does not automatically make you recall a prior decade like the 80's or 90's. A classic item can conjure up images of classic women like Jacki O or Coco Chanel not Britney Spears and Lady Gaga. Examples of timeless items include Cashmere sweaters, a great coat, a classic bag, a beautiful pair of shoes, boots, pearls, jeans, pencil skirts, a tailored white shirt, LBD's and tweeds.
8) What season is the item? Can you wear the item now or is it too cold/too hot outside? Can you use the item year round? Does it look good layered and alone? Will that dress look good with tights, boots and a sweater in the cooler months AND ALSO with sandles in the warmer months. Can you wear that sweater to keep you warm in the winter AND IS it light weight enough for summer evenings.
9) What is the Immediacy of the item? If the item is something that you will have to wait 6 months to wear, is it worth purchasing now? A wool coat at 30% off in the middle of June may not be a great deal for you now. That same wool coat in February is a great find because you have several months of cooler weather to use it, now, and you can use it again next year.
10)Calculate the cost per wear. After you have considered all of these things you can asses if the item is truly a useful addition to your life. The cost per wear is calculated by dividing the total price by the estimated number of times you will use the item. My new cardigan easily broke down to $1.22 per wear. Once I considered the number of ensembles it will complement that are already in my wardrobe, That the print is timeless. The colors are neutral and the item is versatile, i.e. I can wear it year round and to a variety of occasions.
As a side note. Some women have a hard time justifying any spending. For these woman it is hard to see any purchase as "saving money" because they could save all their money by not purchasing anything. For these women I encourage them to calculate the real value of an item by multiplying the multiplying the total cost of the item by the number of times you will wear it. This may help you visualize what a deal the item is.
When you take the time to evaluate before buying your clothes you will increase the amount of enjoyment you get from the purchase. You will actually wear your new clothes and feel confident. You will be able to cut down on extra clutter in your closet and hopefully cut down on wasted money. If you want to increase the actual dollar amount in your savings account you can "shop the sales and save the difference." Simply take the money you would have spent on the item if it were full price and deposit the difference in to your savings account. I did this for two months and I managed to save $114 dollars, from depositing money from my two fashion purchases, and a few forgone movies I didn't see as I had originally intended. This same concept works for any expense where you saved unexpectedly.