Thursday, August 28, 2008

How I manage to feed my clothing addiction and stay on budget

As I have mentioned before, I have always been a lover of all things shopping. When we (my sisters and I) were younger, a lot younger, we sometimes had special one on one time with my dad. Ann got to go to Auburn football games with him, and my special event was Christmas shopping at the mall. And I looked forward to it all year long. In first grade I even wrote my dad a note in class (I guess I was planning to hand it to him in person?) about how I couldn't wait to go to the mall that night. And for as long as I can remember all I ever wanted for my birthday and Christmas was money for new clothes. It's such an addiction. Right up there with my love for diet coke. Well, obviously clothes cost money, sometimes a lot of money, but I think of myself as somewhat of an expert on making that clothing money stretch, and here is how I do it.

I know that some people like to spend a lot of money on nice clothing that will last for a while, and I understand this concept, I do. But I tend to be a trend follower, and we all know that trends last for maybe one second, so there is no point in investing big money in trends. So how does one enjoy the fads of the season without breaking the bank?

First of all, don't overlook stores like Target and Old Navy. These are truly two of my go-to stores. Sometimes they are a gold mine, and sometimes I can find nothing at all, but they are always worth a look. Plus, I rarely buy something full price at Target, and here is why. Once a week (I think) Target marks things down. While 25.00 is an amazing price for a cute shirt, 5.00 is even more amazing. The key is to go to Target often and look through the clearance racks. There is a 30% rack, 50% rack, and a 75% rack. Granted the 75% rack is often very picked over, but it is always worth a look. I will say this, I am 5 ft tall. Obviously this is much smaller than the average joe, so my size is usually left. If you are more of an average size, you may not be able to find as good of deals.

Old Navy also has great sales. It doesn't happen as often as it does at Target, but I often find things for very inexpensive. Three summers ago, I purchased a blue seersucker jacket from Old Navy for maybe 13.00, and I wear that thing all the time. I love it. And it is perfect for Auburn games when paired with an orange tank. I think it was originally like 40--something. So these stores with already low prices will eventually go even lower, just have patience.

I will say that Old Navy and Target usually have a good selection of basic stuff to fuel my everyday wardrobe, but sometimes you are in need of something a little more fun. This is where I say don't over look the junior department. Again, I am the height of an elementary student, so junior clothing works for me most of the time. I do have to wear a MUCH larger size than in a normal store because this post-pregnancy body doesn't fit so well into those clothes designed for a 15 year old, but hey, I am willing to go up a few sizes for the sake of fashion. My two favorite junior stores are Forever 21 and Charlotte Russe. Forever 21 has seriously low prices. So low. And you can find cute dresses there for less than 20.00. Keep in mind, that these things are not going to last forever. This is not investment shopping, but it is worth it to me to have a season or two of wear out of an item. Charlotte Russe requires a little more looking to find something worth buying, but there are usually some really cute tops. And for my biggest secret of all. My favorite, favorite jeans come from Charlotte Russe. I pay 45.00 for two pairs of jeans that I love!! They have great color options, and I honestly love the way they fit. Again, I go up many sizes compared to jeans from Gap, but I can't get one pair of jeans for 45.00 at Gap, and I like the way Charlotte Russe fits even better than Gap. One pair is 30.00, but almost always they have specials where you buy one pair of jeans and get the second for 1/2 off. I am telling you, check it out. I really do love them.

Finally, if you want more quality clothing, Banana Republic, Ann Taylor, J. Crew, and The Limited have awesome clearance racks. Banana Republic clearance racks are my favorite. I really love Banana Republic, and I would love to shop there all the time, but it's just not possible on one income. However, their sales are amazing. Just a few weeks ago, I bought two sweaters for fall that were marked down to like 10.00 each!! Granted that was at the outlet, but still.

One last thing before I go. I do think there are items that are worth investing in. A good pair of pants is a must. I am willing to pay the big bucks for a nice pair of black pants or brown pants. These I will wear year after year if they will last. I bought several pair of pants my senior year of college that I am still wearing. I think that is worth the cost. A good black dress or any dress that will work for a wedding year after year is also worth the investment. Black boots, brown boots--these are a must. Even a good pair of black heels. You want these things to last. But a cute top or skirt, you can find those for cheap. I promise.

As always, I love learning new ways to save. So, if any of you have suggestions on how to dress cute on a budget, please share!! Especially if it involves children's clothing--my newest addiction!!


Milla said...

Great post! And so true! For my body type, I always say, quality on the bottom (good pants or shorts) and cheap/fun on the top (cheap trendy shirts!). Thanks for sharing your input - you are certainly the most stylish person I know!

Lynn said...

Great tips and ideas. I am 5 foot 10 inches so I have the opposite problem as you do. Not many places have pants with a 34 to 35 inch inseam. :) However, I do find good deals sometimes. Especially on shirts and sweaters. I love target and old navy for my kids. The clearances are great.

Calis said...

You should also keep in mind consignment shops. Don't know how many there are where you are, but there is an amazing one in downtown Opelika (two blocks from First Baptist Opelika on 8th Street) called Fringe. So if you guys find yourselves in Auburn you should definitely take a look at Fringe! Lots of name brands for way less than retail.