Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Don't Spend a Million to Look Like a Million!

By Diane McLelland, Our Resident Fashionista

As another New Year begins, many of us make our crafting our New Year’s resolutions, which of course we plan to stick to all year long – right?! One particular resolution that I intend to implement in my life is to maintain a stricter clothing budget, and stick with it-this year.

Clearance shopping is the only way to shop, in my opinion. Getting more for less is a skill that I have honed over the years and one that I love to share with others. If complimented on an outfit or piece of jewelry, you can be sure that I offer up every detail of the shopping spree!

I’m proud to be recycling and saving money. I don’t need to pay several hundred dollars for a piece of clothing to feel good in it. In fact I feel sometimes even more amazing when I am wearing a great dress that only cost me $10 bucks! I consider myself the guru of fashion bargains and I am happy to share my inside tips on how to look like a million without spending a million.

Thrift Stores and Resale Boutiques are Goldmines
Some of my favorite places to shop include resale shops and Goodwill. They’re found in every community and often can even benefit local non-profit organizations. And trust me thrift and resale stores have upped their game. Gently used and sometimes even new and unworn clothing (I have found tons of pieces with original tags on them) can be found for a steal. Many times you don’t even have to sort through a stack of questionable items to find the good stuff. Stores are now doing it for you by requiring that donated items are either dry cleaned or laundered, and free of stains.

Where to find the goods!
Want a great trick of the trade? Shop in the more upscale areas of town where they often land designer clothing and handbags for a mere fraction of their original price.
Coupons, coupons, coupons

Some stores even offer 50% off days, so check with your local shops. On my most recent ‘research’ trip to my neighborhood Goodwill, a shopper in line offered me a 20% off coupon that she had printed online. Score!

Bidding online
My friend Roberta, a single mom, just insists that that I’ve opened up a whole new world of possibilities for her by introducing her to Goodwill and resale clothing stores. I look forward to her usually weekly report, citing a $5 or $6 haul, consisting of perhaps a blazer, skirt, and a belt. She, in turn, has become quite good at bidding for items, and has taught me about buying items online.

Outlet stores have amazing deals
Outlet stores can be another great source of inexpensive clothing. The clothing may be from a previous season, but unless you’re a top model, no one will know. Outlets are great to acquire staple pieces but beware of outrageous items. Sometimes there is a reason why there are 60 of the same shirt.

Refresh Your Wardrobe with a clothing exchange
You might even try a clothing exchange with some friends or coworkers. It gives you a great way to easily refresh your wardrobe and can even help you score that great dress of your friends that you have been eyeing! Just bring all items you no longer wear, make it fun with some drinks and appetizers and swap away. Even if your friends’ clothing sizes vary, you can still score a great necklace or pair of earrings in exchange for that blouse you no longer wear.

Watch for Signs of bargain fever
It’s so easy to pick up an item simply because it’s on ‘clearance’. Don’t be tempted to do so, as you can soon find your closet packed with bargains that you don’t wear, and that don’t seem to match anything you already own. Trust me I have learned from experience! Too often I have cleaned bargains out of my closet that I was certain I would wear but ended up collecting dust because they were the right price but simply weren’t right for me.

If you can afford to, buy completed outfits instead of individual pieces that you will need to try to match up later. This can help to keep the bargain fever clutter out of your closet.

There are many ways to save money, and still dress well. So happy bargain hunting and get ready to look like a million bucks!

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About the Author
Diane Sheridan McLelland has been called a ‘fashionista’ from a young age, acquiring her love of fashion after enrolling in Sears Charm School as a young girl. After earning her degree in Fashion Merchandising and Business, she gained experience by appearing in movies, commercials, and magazine layouts in the Phoenix area, and worked as a flight attendant for over 15 years. Diane considers herself to be a ‘personal shopper’ as she shops for family and friends whenever possible. She has written for a travel publication and numerous newsletters and currently works as a Career Services Advisor, assisting students in finding viable work in their chosen fields. In addition, she volunteers at Fresh Start Women’s Foundation as a workshop facilitator. She has two grown sons, and along with dog Cooper & ‘his’ two cats, resides in the Valley of the Sun- Phoenix, AZ.

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