Annie Vihtelic
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Ready, Set, SALE

By - Jan 8th, 2011 04:00 am
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Post-holiday sales at a store near you. Photo by Ell Brown via Flickr

So maybe you didn’t get the exact thing you wanted this past holiday, but come on — did you really expect to find that pair of shoes you’ve  been lusting after under the tree? Or the jeans in the exact wash and cut that will tuck perfectly into a certain pair of boots you own?

In my entire lifetime, I’ve never received anything fashion-related from a loved one that was something I decided to keep, and that’s just fine with me. Among things I received this year was a gift-wrapped jar of Thai chili paste from my mom, a bag of pistachios from the dog, and thankfully a slim white envelope with a little cash. I’m grateful they spare me the hassle of return lines, and instead gift me with a little ‘mad  money’ that I can put towards other things.

Photo by Brian Jacobson

If you were fortunate enough to get exactly what you asked for, kudos!  But for those of us who still have personal wish lists to fulfill, there’s still hope.

For most shoppers, this is when we take a little breather. The beginning of a new year brings shrunken budgets and resolutions to not set foot in a mall or boutique for the next few months.

But have you seen the sales they’re putting on?

Retailers have a way of luring us in to scavenge  extreme markdowns while they clear their floors of fall and winter merchandise and make room for the next season’s fashions.

I found myself financially strapped the past couple months, and I’m proud to say that I didn’t splurge on any big purchases. But now is the time to find great deals on big ticket items like boots, coats, and shoes. The important thing to keep in mind, though, is that the goal isn’t to find a ton of stuff, but to get some excellent bargains on things you can really use.

When you do scour the sale racks, resist the temptation to buy just because an item is so cheap. Don’t get caught up in the deal and rationalize spending your cash, despite the lack of quality or fit.

Say you come upon a jacket you fell in love with way back in early fall, but at the time couldn’t justify paying full price. Now that same coat is 75 percent off — but it’s one size too small. Hang it up! Don’t buy it. If something doesn’t fit, you won’t wear it. It doesn’t matter how appealing the price is — it’s not a wise investment if you won’t get wear out of it.

Another piece of advice:  Be willing to try on sizes you may not typically wear. Many times garments don’t sell because they don’t run true to size, which makes for a difficult fit (and may be the reason a beautiful piece has to be marked down). Many women refuse to budge when it comes to adjusting their size…especially if it means going a size up. Their loss is your gain. All clothes and designers fit differently, so the only thing to do is to try it on and see how it fits for you.

When the temperature outside reads a frigid 15 degrees, it’s hard to think about preparing your wardrobe for spring, but it will be here before you know it . Keep an eye out for items that will translate well into the next season — like boots you can wear with skirts, or dresses you can wear with tights now and with bare legs later on. Classic blazers and cardigans are great pieces to layer with now and for the remaining winter months, then wear as a cover up when it gets a little warmer.

Now is also a great time to stock up on nice basics. For example, I love luxurious tees for layering but can’t justify spending full price on a piece of clothing that’s hardly exposed. If you see your favorite brand on sale, buy a few in black or white because those are the type of items you always need to replace, and end up buying more of anyway.

Finally, remember to make deliberate and  thoughtful purchases. Be aware of a store’s return policy — most sales are final and you probably won’t have the option to return even for store credit.

Even though the buying season may be over for some, there are still major opportunities for smart shoppers. Oh and enjoy one more great thing about post-season shopping  – no crowds!

*Cover photo by BKLYN GUY via Flickr.

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