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5 Steps to Shopping Smart for Clothes

Everyone likes to look good–after all, when you look good, you feel good. Whether that “I’m-feelin’-myself” pep in your step comes from your gym routine finally paying off, a new haircut, or wearing your favorite outfit, a small boost in confidence can go a long way.


Not only can the right outfit improve your confidence, they also can affect your success, as “clothing significantly influences how others perceive you and how they respond to you,” according to an article in Business Insider.


So to maintain a wardrobe that will make you look and feel your best, you’re going to have to shop–meaning you’re going to have to spend some money at the mall.


So, clothing is an essential part of our budgets. The reasoning is twofold:

  1. Because it’s an area where people go way financially overboard in the name of “look good, feel good”.
  2. Because when you know how much you can spend at the mall, you can shop without worrying you’re being frivolous or wasteful.


How to get what you want for less

WizeFi is all about making the most of your money. So when you’re shopping, it follows that you should try to get what you need at as low of a price as possible–we’re talking about deal-hunting, baby. Here are our steps to shopping smarter:


Step One: Set a Budget

Before you shop, it’s important to know how much you have to spend. This reduces the potential for that end-of-the-month “uh-oh” moment as you open your credit card statement and realize you definitely should not have bought that fourth shirt that was on sale at Express.


If you have a budget, you’re probably at least aware of how much you typically spend on clothes–a good starting point. If you’re using WizeFi to budget, you know that WizeFi gives you a number of what the most strategic monthly clothing budget is for your current financial situation.


Before you hit the mall, take that monthly clothing budget and divide it by how many times you think you’ll need to buy clothes that month. That’s how much you should spend–and it’s in your best interest to stay within that amount.


Step Two: Time your shopping trips right.

There are certain times of the year where most stores will have sales and certain times of the year where almost no stores have sales.


For example: looking for a swimsuit mid-June is almost never a good idea. Retailers know that mid-June is when most people are about to leave on a summer vacay, so more shoppers are willing to pay full price.


But if you wait until the end of summer (Like, after back-to-school–we’re talking the end of warm weather), almost every store will have an end-of-season sale. This is because they’re beginning to transition to fall/winter inventories and need to make space for new merchandise.


February and September are good months for this kind of shopping. If you remember to buy a new, on-sale swimsuit at the end of the summer and store it for a few months, you’ll have something less-expensive to wear when warm weather and full-price swimsuits roll back around.


Step Three: Always shop the clearance section first.

Something is always on sale. For better or for worse, the fashion industry is forever moving. This means that merchandise constantly cycles from brand-new to on-sale to out-of-season.


The key to this tip is narrowing down your selection. By only looking at what’s reduced price, you might be able to find what you need without even being aware of what the full-price similar options are.


Clearance deals can be as good as “take an additional 60% off already-marked down items,” meaning you can get an originally-priced $79.99 dress for $25.60. Although it seems simple, relying on the clearance section is the best way to get the most bang for your buck out of your clothing budget.


Step Four: Hit up those off-the-rack stores.

Marshall’s, Nordstrom Rack, TJ Maxx, Ross–these are all places where you can get current styles for less money.


Stores like Marshall’s buy their merchandise in a unique way–typically when a vendor over-produces or a major department store backs out of an order from a vendor. Off-the-rack stores buy in varying quantities, meaning they can negotiate better prices for consumers. Because of this, there’s typically no e-commerce available (with Nordstrom Rack being an exception).


They’re great places to find the pieces from the brands you know, for less. The catch? Off-the-rack stores can be pretty hit-or-miss and require a lot of digging. You’ll have to spend a little more time flipping through hangers, but a half-off Michael Kors handbag is worth the sacrifice in merchandise organization.


Step Five: Remember that not all sales are created equal.

Retailers are clever. They know their consumers, and they know the science of sales. It’s important to remember that just because a sale is happening, you still might not be getting a deal.


Here’s an example: The “buy one pair of jeans, get one pair of jeans 50% off” sale. If you didn’t originally set out to buy two pairs of jeans, the store just convinced you not only to pay full price for one, they also got you to spend more money on the second pair. Bought together, the discount on each pair averages out to only 25% off each pair–and you can almost always find individual pairs of jeans on sale or clearance for more than 25% off.


The only time this would be a good deal is if you already know that those specific jeans hardly ever go on sale and they’re also your most-loved, best-fitting jeans that you wear all the time. In that case, stock up!


The final word: Shop smarter, not harder

Think about it like a treasure hunt where the treasure is your new favorite blazer that you found for less than ten dollars. It will take a little bit of searching, but it’s not difficult–you just have to double check that ol’ budget, figure out what you need, and then hunt for it for a reasonable price. With these tips above, hopefully, you’re fully equipped to start finding those deals.


Danika Schultz

Danika Schultz is the PR + Content Specialist at WizeFi.