Fabulous Fashion on a Budget

 Louise et Cie Olivia bootie. Nordstrom Rack Online. Was: $134.95 Now: $67.47.

When I was 12, I desperately wanted a pair of Guess jeans. So, I started saving up until I reached the $50 needed for the pair I wanted- black pegged Guess jeans. Everyone else had blue so I was especially keen on the black. Anyway, because I didn't receive allowance it seemed like it took a lifetime to earn the money, although it was likely a few months.

In the end, I rode my bike the long way to Macy's (sadly fashion sense does not give you a sense of direction) with my stash of cash to buy just the right pair. When I arrived, I discovered that I couldn't bring myself to spend my entire savings on one pair of jeans. That was the day I discovered that you can express yourself without spending your life savings- which led to years of vintage clothing stores, colored tights and my first "major" fashion purchase, green three hole Dr. Martens. 

Last week I met with a new client who took me back to my roots- fabulous fashion on a budget. Everybody loves a deal, here are a few tips to get you there:

1. Separate yourself from the pack.

Looking for that AMAZING find at the Rack, Marshalls, and the like? Start by considering who else is shopping at the same location. For instance, the women who shop at the Downtown Nordstrom Rack probably like what you like. This means that if you are looking for something that is sold in large quantities, go there. Ex: tank tops, leather jackets, maxi skirts, etc. You'll have a better chance of finding your size and color options. However, if you are hoping to find that special something that no one else has, go somewhere where the clientele aren't shopping for the same items you are. You want customers who have a different lifestyle and different tastes so that they won't buy the items you would love.  My personal favorite for one of a kind items is the Auburn Supermall Rack or the Southcenter Rack. Coats or handbags that no one else has? That's where to find them. 

 Factory warmspun sweater dress. J Crew Outlet. Available in black or green. Was: $108. Now: $52.99.

2. Embrace the stores you love.

If you already know what you like, don't be afraid to let that brand hear from you. You'll reap rewards. I hear from clients all the time who love Banana Republic but aren't on the Banana Republic email list. Banana, for instance, runs 40% off sales frequently. Same for Old Navy, Gap and the Limited. Nordstrom and the Nordstrom Racks have special sales- Anniversary, Half- Yearly, etc. If you don't know about events and deals at your favorite stores, you could easily be paying full price in the store while another shopper is online enjoying steep discounts. Additionally, events provide you the opportunity to see upcoming trends and have access to limited product availability. If you are up for a store credit card, more benefits follow. But, of course, you'll want to make sure that works for your budget as the interest rates can be high.

Ironic shopper? Instead of paying for a trendy store's version of your clothes, head straight for the real thing. I've found great success for the hipster man who embraces "grandpa" clothes and needs very large sizes by heading to the places "grandpas" would shop: Sears and JC Penney. Crazy savings and unexpected items. 

 Skunkfunk USA Erneta NCX dress. Top can be disconnected from the skirt. Skunkfunk. Was: $169 Now: $139.

3. Set yourself up for success.

If you are looking for a specific item, the internet is your best friend. If you are more interested in going shopping and just seeing what appears, head to the store and enjoy it. Often I hear from clients who are so pressed for time when they head out to shop that they buy whatever technically meets their needs. They don't love the items. Sometimes they don't ever wear them. But, they've bought them anyway.

Ease the pressure. Remember how much you loved shopping when you had the freedom to do it without worrying about being anywhere at a specific time? Get a coffee, plan for fewer stores and more quality time at each. Head to stores that allow you to purchase items with your current budget, not those that make you feel defeated when you step through the doors. If you are interested in higher end items at lower prices, shop sales online from your favorite brands or discount sites like www.shopbop.com or www.factory.jcrew.com.

Additionally, you can find items on the shop pages organized by body type. They are: Inverted triangle, triangle, hourglass, diamond, rectangle & post-mastectomy. I add new pieces throughout the week as I find items that appeal to me, but aren't exactly right for my current clients. (Items that are right for clients can be found on a client's monthly wish list.) Bookmark the page for your body type and check back periodically. I keep items on those pages until they aren't available anymore and I often see steep discounts over time. 

 Draped Dress. Available in dark grey or light grey. H&M. $34.95.

4. Don't forget fast fashion.

A higher quality pair of shoes, handbag, accessories or a coat will elevate everything else you are wearing. True story. So, embrace H&M, Forever 21 and the like for items that are current and can easily be paired with your higher quality items. Have fun- for less money.

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