Thursday, June 12, 2008

Wallet Feeling Lighter? Shop Smart With These Tips

How many times have you heard that gas is so expensive now? Or consumers are "tightening their belts" on spending? Or the dollar isn't stretching as far as it used to? Well, not to sound repetitive, but it's true we're in some tough economic times. How does a fashionista or just a plain shopper, survive? I've got some tips.

Buy Consignment or Vintage
Exhibit A: Today's The New York Times' Style section and the article titled "When Conscience and Closet Collide." Writer Ruth La Perla discusses high-end consignment shopping, which gives shoppers a dual benefit: snagging a deal on that Nordstrom dress that was originally $300 (now maybe $150) and a chance to clear out their closet to make some dough, too. As I've pointed out before, buying consignment is also green—no new resources are being used to make that cute Theory top since it's used!
I stopped in Lady Moxie the other day (see "Tidbits" entry, below) and I found two covetable items: a thick brown/bronze braided belt and an adorable black ruffle dress. Cost? $20 and $50 respectively! A recent trip to the HospiceCare Thrift Store snagged me a $5.99 yellow cable-knit Polo sweater and long, funky chain necklace for $2.99.
Can't beat that. There are deals to be had, people.

Buy During Sales
I know, I know, you're thinking, "Tell me something I don't already know!" But you need to know when to shop. Retailers have a typical markdown schedule. Markdown schedules can be highly variable; however, a good rule of thumb is about eight to twelve weeks after an item hits the store, it'll be marked down (J. Crew seems to defy this schedule I have noticed, though :)). That means if you really want that bracelet or top and you can wait patiently (and it stays in-store, of course) it can be yours for cheap(er). The next best strategy is to befriend your favorite shop owner and get on their email list or give them your contact information. That way when that cute wrap dress is on sale, they can contact you. That's why it's a bonus to shop locally!

Buy the Next Best Thing
I'm not really an advocate of those fake Kate Spade bags you can buy in New York and whatnot. I do recommend, however, buying items that might be inexpensive but have a luxe look to them. That adorable Coach nail-head enamel bracelet for $68? Yeah, I saw almost the exact same version at Target for $12.99. And then I waited to purchase it until it got marked down and I got it for $5.99! (see above)
When I was shopping in Milwaukee a few months ago I saw a beautiful long necklace that looked eerily similar to Van Cleef & Arpels's "Alhambra" long necklace. If you shop locally you can score some neat stuff. And hey, the more power to ya if you can afford the Van Cleef & Arpels version!

Buy the Basics for Cheap, Splurge on the Expensive Stuff
Although I'm a local shopping champion, I realize that it's somewhat impossible to buy everything locally (I don't). My advice? Shop at Target, H&M, GAP, Old Navy et cetera, for the basic stuff. I buy my favorite long scoopneck Ts from H&M, long ribbed tanks from Old Navy and flip-flops from Target. Trendy jewelry is another item I buy for cheap.
What to splurge on? A statement handbag, coat, shoes or jeans. Items that you know you'll use for a long time and will weather the years well. My favorite jeans? Rock & Republic (don't ask how much they are :)). My favorite wool pants from Club Monaco are $100+. Local shops offer all kinds of fun items to splurge (or save) on.
Want some vintage-looking jewelry? Stop at Little Luxuries and check out their La Vie Parisienne line (a lot cheaper than a jewelry store!) Or go to the brand-new Atticus to check out the line of beautiful, delicate 14K gold charm necklaces by Mine Jewelry owner Kristin Wild carries.

Make Small Updates
Feeling "blah" lately? Making some small tweaks in your wardrobe can be just the ticket. Pick up a hot new pair of shoes, bangle or inexpensive clutch to punch up an outfit. Dazzle is a good candidate for any of the above (minus the shoes). Or check out Patricia Shoppe for jewelry, shoes and handbags.
Want a non-clothing way to jazz up your (or someone else's) day? Pick up a sassy and heartfelt card from a local retailer and give it to a friend who needs some cheering up. I just stopped in Savoir Faire at Greenway Station and picked up a card for a friend and last week's trip to Pop Deluxe yielded a hilarious birthday card for my brother.

Atticus, 18 N. Carroll St. 204-9001.
Dazzle, 8426 Old Sauk Rd. 826-4455.
HospiceCare Thrift Store, 122 Junction Rd. 833-4556.

Lady Moxie, 6706 Odana Rd. 826-4268.
Little Luxuries, 230 State St. 255-7372.
Patricia Shoppe, 137 W. Johnson St. 256-1111.
Pop Deluxe, 310 State St. 256-1966.
Savoir Faire, 1701 Deming Way. 831-7800.

No comments: