Probably the two things I love most about sporting designer clothing is the fit and the quality. I feel like when clothing fits better, it looks better and quality, well, the last thing I want to happen is to pull a piece of clothing out of the dryer only to be disappointed that it’s now faded and ill fitting. Trust me, I’ve been there.
The good news though, is that even if you’re on a budget, you don’t have to sacrifice. It is possible to find great deals on designer clothing for up to 90% off. I do it all the time! So when consumer reporter John Matarese asked me to contribute to his national news story with some of my tips, I was more than happy to spill the tactics I’ve been using to save money on women’s fashion for nearly a decade. Here’s three to get started.
Tip 1: Pick your favorites
Take time to figure out your top five favorite stores to shop for women’s clothing and accessories. If you can, try to narrow those down to just two.
My five stores are Macy’s, Target, TJ Maxx, Dillard’s Clearance Centers & Gabe’s.
But if I had to choose two, it’s be Macy’s and Target. I’ll be honest though, I’m super lucky if I make it to all five stores in one season.
Tip 2: Narrow them down
The reason I suggest choosing only five stores — or less — is so you can really focus on what’s going on with those particular retailers. It’s easier to only look at five weekly ads and because you don’t have hundreds of stores and websites to browse for sales, you’ll start to become familiar with your favorites, learning the patterns of each store and what their sale cycles are — both weekly and seasonal.
Tip 3: Use your favorite retailer’s app
I’d also suggest you add the apps of your top five on your smart phone. That way if you hit up the store on a whim, you’ll still have coupons available right at your fingertips.
While every store is different and there’s specific reasons why I like each one, here are some of the tactics and tips you’ll likely find useful to my three of my favorites.
Tips for saving at Target
I love shopping at Target in general, but I tend to always find a good deal when shopping for clothing and shoes. The clearance section is usually where I head first. Sometime’s I’ll find that the clothes are organized by size, other times not so much. I guess it just depends on your Target store.
Regardless, they’ll usually always have the clothing organized by percentage off. Typically there are three sections: clothes that are marked 30% off original prices, 50% off and then 70% off. Even better, their clearance section seems to always be revolving.
Just this week, I was able to find a cute pair of Victoria Beckham shorts for under $10.00. I also discovered s surplus of work-appropriate jeans marked 50% off by the brand Who What Wear. I like to stick with the designer brands, because not only am I familiar with them, but I know that the quality is fantastic and the fit is on point.
The most recent Target designer collaboration with Victoria Beckham is one of those collections that I think is worth checking out. Sure, it was super popular and many pieces sold at a rapid rate, but chances are, you still will be able to find some of the pieces from the collection that are deeply discounted.
With over 200 pieces available under the brand, the sizes range from XS to 3x and range in original price from $6 to $70, with most priced under $40.
In addition to shopping clearance, I also love using the store’s app Cartwheel. After downloading the app, you’ll be able to browse all of the money-saving offers currently available and add them to your virtual list. When you’re checking out in store, present the barcode within the app on your smart phone and you’ll be on your way to saving.
Cartwheel app users typically save anywhere from 5% to 50%. However if you’re mid-shopping trip and come across something you don’t think you can live without (oh yes, bathing suit that fits perfectly, we’re talking about you!), no problem! Using the Cartwheel app on your smart phone, you can scan the barcode on the item to see if there are any additional savings available. Even better, you can still stack the Cartwheel offer with coupons!
You can also check out the coupon section of Target’s website and follow social media accounts that solely focus on saving money at Target, such as Target Deals on Twitter and the blog Totally Target.
And last, always make sure to check out the homepage of Target.com for their weekly deals that you can then matchup with coupons and offers through the Cartwheel app.
Tips for saving TJ Maxx
Being one of my favorite stores for everything from clothing to shoes and home decor, TJ Maxx is probably the store I frequent the most.
Though they do have pretty good prices, there are a few things you can do to make sure you’re getting the best deal and really own that title of ‘Maxxinista.’
When shopping, make sure you browse every aisle. Often times I’ll find the best deals hidden on a random end cap.
Many people think that the reason merchandise is discounted at retailers like TJ Maxx and Marshall’s is because it’s imperfect or damaged. But it’s reported that in fact only 5% of the merchandise sold in the stores can claim that title.
That said, if you come across something that might have a flaw but it’s not marked “as-is”, it’s perfectly acceptable to ask a sales associate if the item can be discounted further. I’ve received anywhere from an additional 10% to 20% off clothing that might have a loose stitch or a stain I’ll will likely be able to get out.
Become familiar with the retailer’s tags. A yellow price tag or a yellow sticker on the tag means that is the absolute lowest the price of that item will go. Sometime’s it’ll read “As-Is”, too. If you’re on the search for high-end designer clothing, then you’ll want to be on the lookout for purple price tags. That means the piece probably came straight from the runway!
Tips for saving at Macy’s
From clothing to home decor, appliances to furniture and housewares, there’s a little something for everyone. And because it’s a nationwide chain, most likely there is a Macy’s near you.
Like me, if you’re a fan of the store, then you’re probably a fan of the money you can save when shopping at Macy’s. From the ‘Last Act’ section to coupons and discounts, you should never pay full price for anything in the store. Ever. Here’s why:
Macy’s has a fabulous section in each store called “Last Act”. There you can find designer and popular name-branded clothing for 70% to 80% off. Sometimes even more. I’m talking about all kinds of clothing, from sportswear, active wear, coats, dresses, pants, tights and blouses. Some of the brands I’ve come across in the section are Michael Kors, Calvin Klein, INC, Lucky and more.
It depends when you shop, but often you’ll find the racks filled, especially around the time when seasonal merchandise is switched around.
Also don’t forget to take advantage of coupons!
While you can’t use coupons on anything you might find in the “Last Act” section, you can use coupons on just about everything else. The company rolls out some fantastic coupons, including $10 off of your purchase of $25 or 20% off your entire purchase. You can usually find the coupons in the ‘coupon section’ of Macys.com or in your local paper.
They advertise the store’s widely known “One-Day” sales, but if you’re in the market for fashionable clothing and accessories, then you won’t want to miss one of these sales. It’s an opportunity to save 40% to 65% off! If you’re curious when the next “One Day” sale is taking place, you can sign up for Macy’s emails or texts.
One more reason to love Macy’s: They’re one of the few department stores known to mark down in-season merchandise as early as 4-6 weeks before the season ends. This means you can purchase that cute bathing suit you’ve had your eye on mid-summer or that winter coat that fit perfectly while it’s still blustery outside.
For more tips on saving money at Macy’s, I’ve compiled a long and detailed list for Don’t Waste Your Money.
My last tip: Buy gift cards!
My last piece of advice for saving money on fashionable clothing, regardless of the store, is to purchase gift cards prior to your shopping trip. By purchasing gift cards that are discounted as much as 40% off, you’re already saving money before you step foot in a store. My go-to site is Gift Card Granny. There I can research many different websites that sell discounted gift cards at once. It’s easy to navigate, too.
I usually will purchase from Raise.com though, because they have a 100% money-back guarantee. Meaning if the gift card is invalid or the amount that was listed is inaccurate, they’ll happily give you a refund. I’m all about great customer service and Raise.com does not disappoint.
So there you have it,, that’s how I make sure I never pay full price for clothing without sacrificing the quality while still being able to wear some of my favorite brands.
Any other advice you’d add when shopping at any of these stores? Post a comment below; I’d love to hear from you!
Here’s the video from our national news segment.
Or you can view the segment on WCPO.com, along with additional tips from consumer reporter John Matarese.