Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Fashionista's Guide to Frugality

Last week I posted the Foodie's Guide to Frugality and it was fun compiling info about saving $ while still eating out and eating well, that I decided to do a Fashionista's Guide to Frugality for shopping mavens who have found the tight economy has also tightened their clothes/accessories/shoes budget.

The Fashionista's Guide to Frugality

As you can surmise from this recent post - I am a huge TJ Maxx/Marshalls fan. High end designer names at low end prices? Yes Please!! If you read the comments section you can see the kinds of deals people have scored there and you can too! I have to say though, being lucky at TJ Maxx and Marshalls requires some thought. It's not always an easy score. I find that two methods work best.

1) Shop often. Not necessarily BUY often, but definitely try and hit up your local TJs/Marshalls at least once a week if you can. Their stock changes on a dime and it really is, like they say in those not at all annoying commercials, never the same place twice
2) Shop the clearance rack. Even if you fancy yourself "not a clearance shopper", there are crazy deals to be had so throw yourself upon the clearance rack and pay attention as you rifle through. Nicole Miller dress for $9? Ralph Lauren sweater for $20? These are not myths!

I also have to give a shout out to the Talbots Outlet (locals, there is one in Hingham).

I know people think Talbots is stuffy but these people are ill informed. Talbots is FABULOUS and the outlet even more so. It's not just for ladies in Mom Jeans and Navy Blue Blazers with Gold Buttons (not that there's anything wrong with that!), they have really turned it around. Tons of gorgeous classics for rock bottom prices. I'm talking $128 Italian leather pumps for $14. Gray gabardine wide legged pants marked down from $148 to $19. Yeesh! Half of the handbags I sold during the Pink Shoe Purse Sale were from there and I got great deals on each. If you are in the area I highly recommend grabbing some girlfriends and making a Saturday morning of it.

Next up - when it comes to bigger ticket items, say a new pair of Tory Burch flats or a fabulous Kate Spade bag....just because your wallet is small doesn't mean you can't dream big! Just do it in increments. Me, I am not that great at saving. It's something I'm working on but I get a little headway and then find something else I could spend the money on. So if I really am intent on something I can't quite afford at the moment? I buy myself a gift card. Can't swing the $200 Revas? Maybe buy yourself a $25 or $50 Saks or Nordstrom (which they sell at Stop and Shop!) gift card and sock it away. Even better, if you order a gift card online most retailers will ship it to you for FREE. A few of those over a month or two won't seem like a huge investment but in a month or two you will have your fab purchase without feeling a hit to your wallet because you spread the spoil out over a small amount of time.

Next up? Email lists. I know we get enough emails as it is without putting ourselves on lists to get even MORE email. But this is how you'll get the inside track on sales, coupons, events. I have a seperate email address I use expressly for signing up for email lists. That way my regular email isn't inundated but when I have some shopping to do I log into my other email address and peruse the sales. Are you a fan of outlet shopping (who isn't). Many outlet malls have coupon books and offers that are FREE for people who belong to their email lists. Chelsea Premium Outlets, who own outlets all over the country (including Wrentham, for locals) has a VIP Lounge that is free to join and whose members get email coupons, vouchers to redeem for coupon books, invites to private sales and more! All for giving them an email address!

Now, there are scads of ways to save money buy shopping online but to be honest I am an online shopping neophyte compared to my girl Lys, fellow shopaholic on a budget who knows how to get the most bang for her e-buck. I asked her to shower her wisdom on us and luckily she agreed! Here is her excellent advice on saving money shopping online:

I have to confess, my expertise with all things cash back and online shopping has been an expensive journey. See, I was one of those gals who would just click and *bam* it's on its way. It wasn't until I started learning about coupon codes that I came onto some sites that made me realize that I was doing this online shopping thing all wrong. So, in the hope that I can spare just ONE shopping diva the horrific experience of spending too much - here's some tips and tricks with how to get the most bang for your (online) buck.
The main sites to bookmark are:
For the cash back sites like FatWallet, Mr. Rebates and EBates, you need to sign up. In these economic times, every little bit helps so here's how it goes.
Let's say you want to get something fabulous from, perhaps, Victoria's Secret. Start off and head over to EVReward to find out who gives the highest percentage of cash back for that retailer. Make a note of it. Also, sometimes EVReward has coupon codes. Again, make note of the good ones Then head over to RetailMeNot to find some great coupon codes. Again, write down the best code for either free shipping, percentage off, etc. Maximize my friends. MAXIMIZE. Then, go to the highest cash back site that you made note of, click through the link ON their site for Victoria's Secret and shop away. When you check out, make sure to use those coupon codes that you had made a note of. In a few days, you should get an email from your online cash back retailer going "You have XYZ Pending".

Disclaimer: NORMALLY it takes 2-3 days for the retailer to report it back to the cash back site. So patience will be your saving grace. Also, it takes about 90 days to pay out so remember that as well. Just think of it as "Found Money" and more often than not, they require Paypal. Look at it as found money. I use my cash back sites for everything from clothes, shoes, makeup to cooking supplies to even travel. It's well worth the effort.
Plus - not dealing with crazy peeps at a mall - PRICELESS!

Thanks Lys!! The only site I had heard of before was retailmenot but after checking these out I am excited to save save save next time the online shopping bug bites!

Websites like and (whose end of season sale is the TALK of the town) offer high end private designer sales online that you get an email about the day before and must sign in to view/shop. For instance Rue La La is having a DIOR sale Friday starting at 11AM with a James Jeans and Kay Unger sale to follow over the weekend. I'm sure I won't buy anything but it sure is fun to look. And since prices can be as much as 80% off makes Christian a little more attainable than say, If you would like a membership to either site drop me an email and I will send you an invitation!

Not that you need a high end label to look chic....just browse the higher end sites for inspiration but make the look yours by finding similar styles at places like Target. I am a big fan of the blog The Look 4 Less which showcases, well, designer looks and how to get them for less! Pretty inspirational if you ask me!

What I am trying to say in my convoluted way is it's REALLY easy to save money so why not go that extra mile and do it? Sign up for that email list. Check out a website for coupons before you whip out your card. Sign up for and buy me something from Dior because my birthday is in a little over a month. C'mon!

Or at the very least, do you have a secret shopping trick to save money? Please share!


Jewels said...

I officially have to move to the states just to shop. I don't do the crossboarder shopping enough because its a bit of a juant!

Thanks for the online sites....maybe just maybe they will benefit the Canadian shopper.... :)

Anonymous said...

I love Ebates! There's nothing like being "paid" to shop online!

pigbook1 said...

There is also a talbots outlet in Woburn :-)

Anonymous said...

Love your blog. You have great wit. The following link is regarding FREE MAKEUP. The result of a class action suit in which stores were price fixing high end cosmetics. Awesome for us!

Good luck.

stephanie said...

I work for the company that owns both Ruelala and smartbargains! LOL!!! :)

P&P Fit said...

I use send you emails when the things YOU want go on sale, it's genius!

Sarah said...

YES I forgot about shopittome. Excellent call!

Steph that's awesome! Hook a sista up. :-P

Princess Extraordinaire said...

I love these sites..I am also a fan of coupon cabin and retail me not....thanks for the tips!

Kate said...

Great tips. I am already on Mr Rebates but I may join ebates too

Gwendolyn said...

I absolutely love those sites.!! I like to get coupon codes from Its my favorite coupon site.