Buying Smart When the Economy Is Failing – Tip #27

April 13, 2009 · Print This Article

I’ve got to begin by saying that if you can’t afford to shop, DON’T shop.  I think too many people believe that because retail is doing poorly and there are bargains all over the place, that they need to pick up deals.  That’s plain wrong.  Even if the item you wanted was 90% off and you’d love to have it as part of your wardrobe, if you can’t afford to pay your credit card bills, then stay home.

What you can do, is start to think differently.  Change out the buttons on a suit and now you’ve got a new look.  Start to look at making different combinations of accessories and not the main garment.  This would mean that you wear your skirt without the top and fancy up the outfit with a blouse or your hair up.  Changing makeup applications and altering your shoes all make you look different.

Men do this all the time.  We don’t have 70 pairs of shoes nor do men have 40 outfits.  What they do is take the same outfit and modify the tie and wear a different color shirt.  Cuff links, watches, socks, rings, scarfs, overcoats all play a role.

Now, if you do have some cash, start to think how to change your look with little to no cost.

This means that a $500 designer blouse at a discount to $150 is still an expensive blouse when you can find similar garments for less, and no one will know the difference.  No one besides you and those you tell.  Besides, who do you need to impress all the time.  Good grooming doesn’t have to go designer.

(Please do believe that I’m not saying you need to shop at stores where there are poorly made products that don’t last or hurt to wear.  I am. however. saying purchase the Nike shoe from last season at $49 down from $110.)

This means to shop not at the top but at the bottom and look upward until you see something that works.  Drop by H&M or Macy’s or better yet that discount mall or store and start to scour the racks.  If there is nothing in terms of color, quality and fashion (remember color first) then jump up a notch.  Slowly.

Let me give you a personal example.  My wife and I were in NYC this weekend and she needed a white blouse that fit her color pallet.  We started at a discount store where there was nothing that worked, hit H&M and the kept moving up the line until we found a garment that was $60 that worked.  Then we discussed the style and in the end, she decided that the garments she found would not add to her wardrobe. The primary reason was the color was off a hair and the shirts looked similar to what she had at home.  We stopped.

I, too, do the same with all clothing.  When I look at ties, I don’t start at Versace even thought they have great designs.  What I’ve found is in ties, just as jeans, shirts, belts, etc., price does not dictate quality. When the Hummer was sold in the US, it was considered one of the worst cars in need of repairs right off the factory floor.   With sticker prices of $50,000+.

So, I start down at the bottom, and work my way up. I scan the discounted and cheaper garments first to see if there is a steal on the rack. I have a $400 leather jacket for $30 to show for it.

At a recent visit to one of my favorites stores, Century 21 in NYC, down in the Financial District, I went looking for a new pair of shoes and some ties realizing that these two items change my wardrobe quickly and less expensively than a suit.

I began to scour the racks for a pair of shoes in my size and then color.  (I only pack blacks–not black and browns–so that when I travel, I don’t have to have a second set of belts, shoes, and other items that match brown.) I then found a pair of Dolce & Gabbana shoes that were just perfect.  Unique and yet stylish.

On the ties I began at the cheapest section where ties run $9.00 for an $80 tie.  I found two and then I found several more for $12 and $16 and $24.  In the end, I walked out with one tie that I would wear.  Ironically, the tie I wore the next day to a friend’s wedding, that cost me $12.99, had more compliments over the past two months than any other tie I’ve owned (some very expensive).  People have actually gone out of their way to say they loved the tie.

So in a climate with or without opportunity, you don’t have to shop if you can’t afford it.  You can change a garment with simple button, or configurations of existing clothing.  You can shop more intelligently from the bottom up and find deals that give you the wardrobe you need.

This is also assuming you need something new, and it’s not your ego or need for affection that makes you have to buy. Maybe you should take a trip inward before taking a trip to the store.

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