A wardrobe overhaul without a bank overdraft.
They say you should dress for the job you want, but unless the job you’re looking for is “professional schlub” you won’t be able to get by with cheap sweatpants and t-shirts. It’s a bit of a chicken and egg situation, trying to afford the clothes you need for the job you want that will allow you to afford the clothes you need for… well, you get it.
Advice from sales experts…
You don’t need us to tell you about retail sales… but we’re going to anyway! Sure, you know sales exist, but are you a sales expert? Because we talked to some sales experts and they have advice for you.
PR executive Amanda Maxwell told us her approach: “I always try to wait for sales first of all. Depending on what store you are at, almost everything drops to sale after the first three initial weeks of the item being on the rack. I also wait for special promotion days when you can get extra percentages off. Another trick is signing up for an email for a specific store. Most companies offer a 15-30% off coupon when you sign up for their emails for the first time! So always look! Or have your friend sign up.”
Rachel D’Ruan a stylist with TRUE Model Management, offered her own sales advice: “I always advise clients to purchase what they may need when there’s a sale instead of waiting until they need it. My go-to is Chicmi.com because the platform has the most up-to-date list of sample sales as well as fashion events and online fashion sales. Each fashion trend lasts at least three seasons (16 months) and each also makes a come back every few years; thus, when quality products are purchased, they could last a lifetime!”
Know when to shop.
You should always be on the lookout for sales. They can strike at any time—like lightning that saves you money. But there are also more consistent rules you can follow to save money when shopping for clothes. The tides of shopping, rather than the lightning.
“One way that I have found is to buy clothes out of season,” advised Alayna Pehrson, digital marketing strategist for BestCompany.com. “Although this may mean that you can’t wear it right after you buy it, you’ll have it to wear for the appropriate season AND you will definitely save money. There is a month-by-month guide that I found to be pretty helpful when trying to figure out which items are cheapest during which month of the year: http://time.com/money/4190173/month-guide-best-time-buy-everything/”
And know where to shop.
Every reporter knows the 5 “W”s: Who, What, When, Where, and Why. We’ve already answered the Who, What, When, and Why (you, affordable clothes, off-season, and so you don’t end up with bad credit) so now it’s time to talk about the “Where.”
Maxwell shared some of her favorite affordable options: “There is also the obvious [choice] of shopping at discount stores like Saks Off Fifth or Nordstrom Rack where they offer clothing from their main stores at a discounted price. There’s always a rack of damaged stuff (etc missing a button) that’s AMAZING and totally unnoticeable. You can find amazing deals there and they take an extra 40% off usually.
“Another perk I LOVE to use and has become even more amazing over the last few years, is to shop secondhand. There are so many avenues and websites to go now from eBay to Tradsey, to local clothing resale stores. Here in New York we have amazing secondhand shops with stuff that people have never even worn! Marked from $800 to $100! If you buy online from eBay it’s also tax free! Don’t forget this method also applies to you selling your old stuff! This allows you to make some money and save on getting new clothing. It’s a win win!”
You should also check out coupon sites. As Pehrson told us, “Another way to save money when buying clothes is to search for online coupons. Sites like coupons.com, retailmenot, and Groupon are some great places to find online clothing coupons.”
Personal finance expert Kayla Sloan also has a site she relies on for fashion deals: “My biggest secret for looking great for less is using online thrift stores, like ThredUp.com. I always wait until they offer a coupon code for 10% off (or more) or free shipping. I also re-sell my clothes there after I’m finished with them so I can use my store credit to refresh my wardrobe. ThredUp is my favorite way to get brand name clothes for less!”
Some more tips for style on a budget!
We’ve got even more tips for you to use! Need something for a one-time event? “For special occasions, I would recommend renting an outfit (dress, tux, etc),” Pehrson suggested. “This will keep your credit, closet, and conscience clear as you will most likely only use that outfit once.”
She also had another good tip for keeping your spending in check: “A great way to not build up bad credit while shopping for clothes is to only use cash. With cash, there is no temptation to break out the credit card and spend more. Make sure to limit the cash you carry depending on your clothing budget.”
Got a big social media following? D’Ruan says you might be able to use it to your advantage: “If you are an aspiring fashionista, stop by stores like Dreams on Air and Flying Solo. Designers from curated fashion incubators don’t have the budget for top PR services or advertisement so they are more than likely to lend clothes to social influencers (10K+ IG followers) in return for free publicity. I can share more on this approach but it is as simple as filling out a ‘pull’ form, which also asks for credit card info and duration of the pull. As long as the items are returned in their original condition, you can rock clothes off the runway from fashion week for free!”
Looking for affordable stockings? Vienne Cheung, founder of VienneMilano filled us in on her wares: “In a nutshell, the best way to save money and look fashionable is to shop for affordable luxury brands. For example, for women, instead of spending $50-100 for a pair of stockings, hip and young professionals can shop at VienneMilano.com – all of our products are made in Italy. Since VienneMilano is a small business that does not carry extra overhead cost, we can afford to offer fabulous and luxurious products to our customers at an affordable price. Our made in Italy stockings only cost $19.95 for a pair of hosiery, which is significantly less than some of our competitors who sell at $50 for a pair of stockings.”
Finally, Okera Banks, celebrity stylist and founder of OTG Essentials, told us how you can switch things up without having to get a whole new wardrobe: “You can have a hip wardrobe without driving yourself into bad credit or bad debt. I call that living within your means, as you maintain your needs.
“The most important thing to do is first look at your day to day lifestyle and plan out your week. Create a budget that is realistic and include future spending. The idea here is to save, which means you may have to take advantage of discounts, warehouse sales, or outlets stores like Nordstrom’s Rack, who offer great products below market value and even online shopping opportunities.
“I always tell people who are creating a hip wardrobe or who are transitioning into a new look to review your current wardrobe and add cool accent and statement pieces for extra flare without having to completely replace your closet. And purchase items that are interchangeable and transitional, that way they can be worn for business, travel, business casual, fun, or cocktails.
“The idea is being a conservative shopper while being stylish and having a sense of duality with each purchase to accommodate your lifestyle. An essential garment piece is one that can create more than 3 good looks.”
Okera Banks (@OkeraBanks) is a Los Angeles based designer and celebrity stylist to some of Hollywood’s elite. As a creative designer and owner of Okera Banks OTG Essentials, OTG is the acronym for “On The Go,” her collection caters to today’s swagged out and sophisticated entrepreneur, fashion conscious trend setters and travelers on the go who want comfort and ease with impeccable style.
Vienne Cheung (@VienneMilano) followed her passion for fashion and travel to… fine hosiery. For years, she traveled the world seeking the best fashion and accessories. In Milano, Italy she fell in love with premium hosiery, then unavailable in the US. The rest is history: she left her cushy corporate job, and plunged her soul (and legs!) into VienneMilano.
Rachel D’Ruan (@TrueModelMgt) After half a decade strategizing publicity campaigns for major film studios in Los Angeles, Rachel ventured into fashion and lifestyle PR in New York City. Representing some of the most well-known talents and entrepreneurs in the business has enabled Rachel to obtain a wealth of contacts and diverse experience in image consulting, publicity, marketing and branding. Rachel’s expertise, persistence and tactical approach to her work serves her clients well.
Amanda Maxwell (@amkmaxwell) is a 23 year old PR Senior Executive residing in New York City. She’s mostly known for her contributions in the fashion world, fashion focused social media, and press related contributions. She’s also currently a writer for BossBabe.co sharing tips and tricks on all things Fashion, Life, and Beauty. With her extensive relationships and industry experience, Amanda has always remained in style.
Alayna Pehrson(@BestCompanyUSA) is a Digital Marketing Strategist and Credit Repair Specialist at BestCompany.com
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