Monday, January 14, 2013

Shop Like an Unfashionista

If you read my blog often, you're probably getting a feeling for where I like to shop (cheap stores!) and what I like to buy (cheap stuff!). But if you need some extra information or inspiration, I will give you the low-down on how to shop like a successful Unfashionista.


When to shop

This is an easy one: whenever you can! I have been known to buy dresses on my lunch break and snag unbelievable bargains on my way to dinner. When the opportunity to expand your wardrobe arises, do not pass it up! Even if you don't need or want anything right now, you know you will in 2 weeks when you're bored with all your clothes again. You don't need to worry about buying too much, because you have a price limit in mind, and you are going to stick to your guns! And if you feel like your closet is overflowing, you sell off or give away some of your less-favorite items without regret, because you didn't pay much for them to begin with.


What was that you said about price limit?

One of the things that makes an Unfashionista an Unfashionista is the very stringent spending restriction she lays upon herself. You have to set yours based on experience (i.e. what kinds of prices can you reasonably find a given item for?) and values (how much can you spend without feeling guilty?), but my maximum prices are as follows:

20$ — High Heeled Shoes
13$ — Dresses
10$ — Pants
9$  — Flat shoes
8$  — Bras
5$  — Skirts
5$  — Hats
5$  — Shorts
5$  — Shirts
3$  — Tank tops
2$  — Jewelry & Nail polish
1.30$— Underwear
1$  — Socks

Now, there are qualifications and exceptions to every rule. For example, I'll rarely pay up to the maximum for items that I can't try on, because that's not a safe investment! And if I desperately need something (for example, a pair of skinny jeans that fit right, or some high-heeled black boots that are more ladylike than "rock star"), I'll pay a few dollars more. In general, though, I use these numbers as guidelines to help me keep my shopping impulses in check.


Where to shop

Knowing where you can get a bargain is essential to a swift and stress-free shopping trip. I thoroughly enjoy shopping, but when my boyfriend wants to go to the mall, I cringe inside, knowing that none of the stores will have anything I'm willing to pay for. I don't mess around with high-end retailers (even though, once in a blue-moon, you can find something affordable on their clearance racks), but I do have favorite stores that I can count on. A serious Unfashionista also has favorite departments within favorite stores—like when you go there, you make a beeline for the shoes, because you know they have good prices whereas their clothing department is not so affordable. Good cheap stores may be regional, which makes my advice less pertinent to you, but here are a few of the places where I get consistent bargains.
  • Burlington Coat Factory — though their regular prices aren't really boastworthy, despite their ads, they do have some pretty good deals on clearance items. My local Burlington has a dollar bin for underwear, which is not to be missed!
  • Rugged Wearhouse / Gabriel Brothers — Rugged Wearhouse, just a short walk from my office, gets a visit from me every time I happen to be nearby, because I never know what goodies I might find! This company knows the meaning of a good bargain. Apparently it operates as Gabriel Brothers in the Midwest (and was my favorite store when I lived in Ohio). I find their shoe selection to be consistently delightful and cheap, but I've also acquired most of my sunglasses there, and a few pieces of jewelry.
  • Rainbow — Rainbow is a kids'/ladies'/juniors' clothing shop that draws me in with its huge "CLEARANCE: $3" (or $5 or $7 or...)  racks. It's nice to be able to walk into a store and have the products already arranged according to your spending preferences. Their end-of-season shoe sales are also spectacular!
  • Claire's / Icing — I'm pretty sure these two accessories shops are run by the same company. Claire's seems to cater more to little girls, while Icing is a bit more sophisticated, but they both have wonderful X-for-10$ sales on a frequent basis. That's how I get most of my jewelry.
  • Thrift Stores — Thrift stores are where people with lower standards buy other people's old discards. I love them! Unfortunately, their prices seem to be highly influenced by the cost of living in their area, which means that thrift stores around DC tend not to be any cheaper than a good clearance sale at a retailer. However, every thrift store has its own specials and discounts that make it worthwhile. Around here, Value Village and Unique Thrift offer 50% sales about once a month, and 25%-off sales every Monday and Thursday. An unnamed thrift store at the corner of Rhode Island Ave. and Edgewood Rd. has few marked prices at all, meaning you are free to talk down the owner in a good-natured haggling session. In Ohio, I found Savers to have good quality items at reasonable prices.
  • eBay — I saved the best for last, because eBay is indeed my favorite place to do my fashion shopping! When you factor in the cost of shipping, eBay prices are generally not as good as those at a thrift store, but when you factor in the ease of shopping from your desk and the multitude of options to filter the results to find exactly what you want, it's totally worth it! eBay shopping is partly appealing because it's always an adventure. One of the most thrilling feelings is to drop a trivial amount of money and have a whole collection of new clothing arrive at your door a few days later! (Just shop Mixed Items and Lots to see what I mean). And as an Unfashionista, you can sell back what you don't want, and ensure you have a steady (but small) you can do more shopping!

1 comment:

  1. I really hate how you put the $ after the number.