If you’ve been out shopping lately, you’ll notice that in the world of retail, it’s fall already. Whether you’re already excited about fall shopping or dreading it, here are some tips for maximizing your budget and getting the most fabulous fashion bang for your frugal buck.
Shop your closet. Before you hit the mall, take inventory — an actual inventory — of what you already have. See what pieces are still in great condition, or what you would love to wear if only you had something to go with it. Then go shopping with a list in hand and a purpose in mind.
Don’t say goodbye to summer. If you are still loving your summer dresses or capri pants, there’s no rule that says you have to put them away with your swimwear. Short dresses pair well with leggings, while long dresses go great with a cardigan or blazer. If you plan to wear tall boots anyway, no one will know if you have on ankle-length pants.
Splurge on neutral staples. Invest in things like a crisp white shirt, a solid color dress, a couple of cardigans, a good pair of jeans, khaki pants and pencil skirts. All of these items can be dressed up or down with the right accessories, and will last season after season. You can find great bargains on scarves, chunky jewelry, handbags and ballet flats in discount stores like Target or Walmart, or even department stores like Kohl’s or JCPenney. As for trendy pieces, treat yourself to one or two, but don’t invest too many of your hard-earned dollars on these fashion flavors of the month.
Don’t fall for fall. As with any seasonal shopping, it may pay to wait until new items go on clearance. Especially if you can get a few more weeks out of your summer clothes, waiting until the end of September and beginning of October, when stores begin to make way for winter gear, can save you tons.
Find some fashion friends. Many people are in the same situation of trying to spend less and save more. Ask if any of your friends or family members (who may be of similar size) would be open to a clothes swap.
Make sure you love everything you buy. We’re all guilty of picking up a piece that we thought had potential, would fit better once we lost five pounds, or simply because the price was too good to pass up. Ultimately, those items end up hanging in our closets with the tags on them. To avoid that, be sure to try each item on and be happy with how it looks right then. If you order online, don’t be lazy about returning things you don’t like.
But don’t buy everything you love. Set a budget for yourself and stick to it. Follow your favorite retailers on social media to score coupons, and use an app to find coupons when you’re out shopping.
Keep your receipts. Many stores will credit you for the difference if an item you bought within a certain time frame drops in price. Along those lines, it’s good to ask about store policies regarding sales, returns and coupons so you can make wise shopping decisions.