How to Shop Cheaper Retailers or Consignment Stores (originally published on Feb. 24th, 2013)

buy Lyrica in uk I love a nice boutique as much as the next girl. The sales staff is generally knowledgeable and helpful; they will get you sizes and makes recommendations because they know what’s in the store, how it fits, and what it works with. At some places, they also act like models – providing real examples of how to style the clothes they’re selling. Aritzia sales girls are particularly good at this – they are the best I’ve seen in a long time at pulling off the trends in very wearable ways. It’s good to go in just to get inspired.

prevacid purchase In fact, that’s what boutiques are really good for – inspiration. They show you what’s hot, what’s new, and how to wear it. And there are people there who will cater to you if you need them to. But that comes at a cost.

I like really well made clothes and I like my stuff to be a little different and a little edgy – but wearable and classic enough to last for years and work with many of the pieces I already own. In boutiques that usually means designer clothes and costs a premium. However, at consignment stores and places like Winners and Marshall’s I can indulge my inner fashionista without breaking the bank. Because of these places, I own a closet full of high-end designer clothes (from Chanel to Prada to Longchamp) that I could never have hoped to afford in this quantity if I’d had to pay full price. So here are my tips for shopping without the help of sales girls:

1. Know your wardrobe and what holes you need to fill. It’ll help you narrow down what items to focus on. Don’t bother going in for a particular item. Instead, think of this as a treasure hunt. You never know what you’ll find – could be nothing or it could be awesome.

2. Know what colours, styles and shapes work on your body. Since you need to find your own pieces and do your own back and forth for new sizes or styles you want to be able to ignore things that won’t work in favour of concentrating on pieces that really have potential.

3. Have a budget but be flexible. Even at consignment stores or Winners you can spend thousands of dollars on one piece. Sometimes it’s worth it. Other times you should walk away before you fall in love with an impractical piece that will cause you nothing but shopper’s remorse. The cost per wear formula (total cost divided by the number of times you can reasonably expect to wear the item) is a good way of deciding what might be worth splurging on.

4. You should never invest in trendy pieces. Trendy is why H&M was invented. You should invest in classic pieces you can imagine wearing forever.

5. Shop by feel. Real silk, cotton, and good quality wools feel nice – both to wear and on your fingers as you run your hand over them. If you choose a synthetic make sure that it looks expensive. It’s good for clothes to be cheap but not for them to look cheap!

6. Don’t worry about sizes. Some designer pieces are sized bigger so you’ll need to go smaller than normal but vintage pieces are more often than not sized considerably smaller than current sizing so you’ll need to go bigger. Different brands use different standards. Size is nothing but a number. What matters is fit. So learn to eyeball pieces for size to see if they’re worth trying on and stop looking at numbers.

7. Make friends with a tailor and let your imagination be a guide. What would the piece look like shorter? Can it be taken in or let out? Few people fit clothes right off the rack and nothing will make your clothes look better than perfect fit. Since these retailers are cheaper you can afford to think about tailoring.

8. In consignment stores make friends with one of the staff. They will keep an eye out for those pieces you’d really like and call you if they come in.

9. Know your designers. Often, pieces at Winners and Marshall’s are priced improperly because the staff does not recognize a brand – and this usually works in your favour because the pieces will be less than they should be. Rather than getting 60% off, you might score a 70 or 75% discount. Some edgier designers might even make it to the clearance rack because they were too edgy or costly for the store. In consignment stores, it’ll allow you to pick out key pieces quickly and to understand why some pieces are so much more expensive than others. Recognizing brands allows you to make better judgment calls about how good the deal really is.

10. Inspect any piece you’re thinking of buying. You need to check for stains, holes, or other kinds of wear and tear even if the piece is brand new. Only buy things that are perfect.

11. Be decisive. If a piece fits (or can be tailored), if it’s in good condition, fits in your wardrobe and fills one of those holes, and it’s within your budget, then jump on it. These are not places where you can expect them to hold a piece or that it’ll still be there tomorrow. And stuff doesn’t tend to go on sale either.

12. Shop often. You never know when something great will come in so go in regularly to check it out. I only shop in the spring and fall but when I’m on the hunt I’ll tour my favourite stores every week for about a month before I’m done. And I’ll drop in every 6 weeks or so the rest of the year just to see – and to keep the sales people at my favourite consignment stores from forgetting me. It would be a chore if it wasn’t so much fun!

If you’re still really lost – or doubt that this can be worthwhile or very much fun – give me a call. I’ll help you! Shopping these places means getting  better pieces for better prices. It’s so worth it! It just takes a little work!

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