Have you ever noticed that women love to tell each other about their incredible shopping finds and fashion deals? I used to have a neighbor who liked shopping as much as I did, and instead of gabbing about whose husband was cheating or which neighbor had weeds in the lawn, we swapped stories filled with the likes of Ralph Lauren and Donna Karan.
When coupons, promo codes, and discount codes sites started a while back, like MyCoupons.com, I happily forwarded the info on to my mailing lists.
I’ve clipped coupons, shopped sample sales, trolled outlet malls, and picked through clearance racks, all in the name of an extraordinary bargain.
Because as much as I love fashion, I love a great fashion deal.
As a middle-aged woman, it’s probably a good thing I like bargains. A report by the Employee Benefit Research Institute shows that up to one-half of us baby boomers will outlive our retirement savings.
I try not to over-worry about things like retirement right now since I plan to work, well, forever. But I do like to try and live well without spending a fortune.
I’m glad that technology has finally caught up to my bargain-hunting fever.
In addition to using tech to save money, I believe you need to have a strategy to buy smarter. Here are my favorite tips for creating your dream wardrobe:
Pick a color story. Mine’s black and white. It doesn’t mean that everything I own is black or white — I have some prints and color — it just means that all of my basics like tees, pants, skirts — are black or white. You may choose a bold color — maybe red is your thing — or neutrals like navy blue. Or maybe you want to build everything around denim.
Whatever you buy needs to go with something you own. A few years ago, I bought a smashing pair of wine-colored suede pumps dirt cheap. They sat in my closet for years before I finally found something to go with them. Moral of the story: it’s not a bargain if you never use it.
Buy in multiples. My favorite work pants are skinny black pants from Saks Fifth Avenue and Forever 21. They fit perfectly, hold up to lots of wear, and are seasonless. They are also the first time I didn’t follow my own advice of buying perfect basics in multiples (I do that all the time with jeans and tees), and I regret it all the time.
Save Money. Look Fab.
Tips to Save Money on Fashion Deals
If your clothing budget has taken a hit lately, learn how to save money on fashion deals – and still look fab – with these easy tips.
Sure, the big retailers can be hard to navigate and have their share of cheap distractions, but there are stylish deals to be had at stores like Forever 21 and Saks Fifth Avenue. Head to the former for great deals on clothing, jewelry, shoes, handbags, and shop for the latest designer clothing.
Fashion bargains – Find them, understand them, love them!
You weren’t seriously thinking about paying full price, were you?
After all, with a combination of online, retail, catalog, and secondhand options, the potential is great for buying what you want for less.
Here’s a handy guide to buying fashion at a price:
- Never buy because of price alone; always buy because you first like the item.
- Buy classics. Avoid the temptation to splurge on too-trendy pieces. Put your money in timeless pieces like sweaters, good jeans, wool separates, and quality leather goods. If it’s out of style (or quickly fading), you won’t get your maximum $$$$ worth.
- Check the return policy. Know the company’s policy before you buy; be extremely wary of a company that won’t take exchanges or charges a restocking fee. ‘Net shopping means colors and fabrics can’t really be distinguished, not to mention fit. Go with generous return policies, if at all possible.
- Even designers make mistakes. There are plenty of ugly goods out there with a chi chi label sewn in the collar; discounters and outlet stores can be a dumping ground for the slow sellers. Good judgment and taste are your guides here.
Discount/Off-price – From online pioneers like Forever 21 to brick and mortar stores like Saks Fifth Avenue, the discounter or off-price retailer is all about offering you merchandise for less than you’d pay at a department store or specialty retailer.
Outlet store – Often grouped together in an outlet mall or warehouse area, the outlet store is a retail outlet for major brands and merchants to sell off-price (end-of-season, etc.) merchandise to the public.
Coupons – If you enjoy the thrill of the hunt as much as the purchase, then online coupons are for you. MyCoupons.com has become legendary for providing great fashion deals.
Secondhand – Vintage, consignment stores, and flea markets have become favorite haunts of fashion lovers around the world. Not only will you save a bundle, but you’ll also end up with something unique by shopping secondhand.
Sales – While many merchants at least double the cost of an item (they pay $25 for a shirt and charge you $50), some mark their retail prices much higher, only to promote items later (they pay $25 for a shirt, mark it $60, then promote it at 25% off — or $48).
You’ll have to gauge the validity of the “sale” price merchant by the merchant. The best way is to have a general idea of what the usual asking price is of an item (e.g., jeans for $40, T-shirts for $15, etc.) Click or shop several stores to get a feel for common retail prices.
Why a bargain is a bargain
There’s always a reason an item is being sold at less than retail.
Here are a few clues to a rock-bottom price:
- It’s an end-of-season sale.
- The demand for the item was less than expected.
- The clothes arrived in the store at the wrong time of year (coats in the summer).
- The weather was not conducive to business: cool summer, warm winter, etc.
- It was bought at the tail end of a fad’s popularity.
- The item is damaged.
MyCoupons.com Brings you Awesome Fashion Deals
With all the fashion deals sites out there, shopping online has never been more fun (or more affordable). You can snag deeply-discounted designer goods and half-price gift cards to your favorite stores, all without leaving the comforts of home. But which daily deal site is the best? All the votes have been tallied, and the winner is MyCoupons.com.
If you’ve ever purchased a half off deal that was advertised on one of your local radio or news stations, your voucher probably came from MyCoupons. They’re one of the oldest and largest coupon websites around.
If you want to look the part at your next social outing or just need new clothes in general, save some of your hard-earned and shop with MyCoupons.
Trading down doesn’t mean you have to give up style. Here are our favorite budget fashion stores.
How to Shop Smart at Forever 21
Do you like your fashion trends? Forever 21 offers fast fashion in all the latest fashion trends for a bargain (blouses usually under $25, dresses under $30, etc.)
There is no doubt to any vaguely fashion-savvy person that Forever 21 has guts when it comes to trend forecasting. Their fashion-forward styling and production timeliness hits the mark every season. Thankfully, Forever 21 has ridiculously low prices and has improved the working conditions of their employees, so for now, your conscience can indulge in peace.
You like to be on top of trends, but when cheap, widely-available fashion is this fast, how do you shop at Forever 21 without looking like the mall is your personal stylist?
- Skip the front of the store. Forever 21 has some pretty creative styling on a large amount of mannequins to help draw the attention of wandering mallrats. To ensure you aren’t buying into the same looks as everyone else, skip the storefront and dig deeper. The clearance rack, for instance, is full of trendy treasures that take a little bit more creativity to properly rock.
- Try out your favorite trends, but be choosy. While not the most durable of discount clothing, Forever 21 merchandise will usually last at least as long as the trends do. Avoid the more gimmicky, obviously mass-produced fads and stick with vintage-inspired pieces and trends that enhance your existing style.
- Load up on statement accessories. One of Forever 21’s biggest strengths is their impressive collection of inexpensive statement accessories. Earrings especially, from a vintage-inspired oversized chandelier to funky feathered dangles, are $7.50 or less. You can’t really pack in this much style for your buck anywhere else. The shoes are also tempting, but of questionably quality, and there is a big difference when the money-savings could easily be at the sacrifice of foot comfort. Check the Forever 21 coupons online for constantly updated coupons.
- Dabble in denim. Got a hankering for acid-washed skinny jeans, but can’t afford this 5-minute trend at Urban Outfitter prices? Forever 21’s got you covered. From stretch denim leggings to high-waisted jean shorts, from $9.50-$29.80, Forever 21 is the best place to find cheap, trendy denim, along with some tried and true blues.
What to Buy at Forever 21 and What to Skip
Some Items at This Popular Store are Better Than Others
Forever 21 first launched when I was in college, and I remember my friends would frequently make trips out to the mall to pick up something new to wear over the weekend. No longer were we shopping at Express or The Limited. The fun, trendy, and affordable items to us poor college kids could only be found at Forever 21.
I am quite a bit older now and rarely shop at Forever 21, though I do occasionally stop in there because their prices are too good to skip on a few items that I regularly purchase, and the quality is often similar to items you might pay more for elsewhere.
If you are going to be updating your wardrobe, there are definitely a few items worth picking up from Forever 21, including:
I do not typically purchase expensive jewelry because my lifestyle does not call for me to wear much jewelry. As a result, when I am looking for something trendy that I know I will only wear once or twice, Forever 21 is the first place I look. Much of the jewelry at Forever 21 costs less than $10, and I will say that I find the quality to be surprisingly good. I’ve had a few pieces of jewelry that I have been able to wear for years, and that still looks brand new!
Forever 21 is ideal for picking up items like T-shirts and tank tops that you do not expect to last a long time and/or do not want to pay big money to purchase. The story carries a huge selection of wardrobe staples at rock-bottom prices, including in plus sizes! Along with T-shirts and tank tops, I have had good luck finding cheap jeans at Forever 21 and even cheap swimsuits! The quality of the swimsuit was surprisingly good and held up well the entire summer that I wore it.
My wardrobe generally veers toward classic pieces, but on the rare occasion that I want to pick up a super trendy item, I generally check to see if Forever 21 has something that I like. Generally speaking, the trendier the item, the less I am willing to pay for it because I know it is something I will not be wearing year-after-year. Forever 21 is great about carrying the trendiest of items (they don’t call it fast fashion for nothing) at a low price point.
While the items above are almost always a good bet when shopping at Forever 21, there are also some items that you should skip, including:
There are some high-quality faux leather handbags out there that you would never guess are faux leather. These are sadly not the bags that you are going to find at Forever 21.
Most of the shoe prices at Forever 21 aren’t particularly good, and I’m of the belief that shoes are an item you should almost always splurge on quality. Quality doesn’t haven’t to mean expensive, though! Check out this post on how to find designer shoes for less for all of my shoe-buying secrets!
Forever 21 has a nice selection of coats, depending on the season, and while they are a great resource for trendy jackets, skip buying your winter coat here if you live in a cold climate. Like shoes, a winter coat is an item you will want to splurge on to be sure that you get a high-quality coat that will keep you warm when the temperature drops below freezing.
How to Save Big at Saks Fifth Avenue
Saks Fifth Avenue offers great prices, but here are tips to help you save even more!
Saks Fifth Avenue is one of our favorite shopping destinations because their prices are almost always quite reasonable, and the number of sales and coupons they offer is hard to beat. It may sound harsh, but if you are shopping at Saks Fifth Avenue without a coupon, then you are doing something wrong. This is one of those stores where you should never pay full price!
Their prices are generally pretty high, but with so much impulse purchase temptation, all of these little ways to save at Saks Fifth Avenue can sure help cut down on that final bill!
If Saks Fifth Avenue is your store of choice, here are a few strategies you might want to try that will help you save as much money as possible on all of your future purchases.
This one goes without saying, right? Shop the sales at Saks Fifth Avenue! This should not be too difficult, honestly, because it seems like everything is always on sale at this store! One frequent sale you will want to be on the lookout for is the Clearance Sale when prices seem to get knocked down to bargain-basement levels.
In addition to frequent sales, Saks Fifth Avenue almost always has coupons available! They frequently send out in-store coupons that you can print from home or redeem via your smartphone. If you are shopping online, Saks Fifth Avenue will let you redeem up to 2 coupon codes at one time! This means that you can often get a percentage savings plus free shipping, or whatever combination of codes may be available.
Be sure to check MyCoupons.com for Saks Fifth Avenue coupons before you head to the store. Although they are not advertised, there are Saks Fifth Avenue coupons on the website that can be used in-stores. While there are always many deals from their favorite brands, I always like to check out the “beauty” and “apparel & accessories” coupons. Since I don’t think I have ever walked out of Saks Fifth Avenue with less than $300 in clothing, shoes, and accessories in my cart, these coupons end up being quite valuable!
Thankfully, you do not even need to subscribe to the website to get coupons anymore. Check out MyCoupons.com for constantly updated coupons that can be used for the biggest savings on top brands.
Saks Fifth Avenue Gift Cards
Saks Fifth Avenue frequently offers promotions where you can earn $50 in promotional e-Gift Card for yourself for every $300 gift card you buy. The e-Gift Card can then be spent during specific time periods, and there is no minimum purchase requirement! This means that if you have $50 in gift cards, you can purchase something for $50 and basically get the item for free.
Of course, you will want to combine your e-Gift Card with any sales and coupons that are available and shopping if you are shopping online. (Yes! You can enter your codes and coupons online, too!)
Black Friday Sales
OK, you can make the argument that adding Black Friday Sales to this list is cheating, but I would be remiss not to mention that Saks Fifth Avenue has some truly incredible Black Friday Sales! Their prices on many items are cheaper than can be found elsewhere, and they are one of the few stores that tend to offer the same deals online that they do in-stores. Of course, you can always combine their Black Friday sale prices with any additional coupons as well!