Full disclosure: I love to shop. I love fashion, I love beautiful things, I looooove shoes. I browse often – but I purchase rarely.
I’m a quality over quantity kind of girl. I’d rather have one beautiful, classic handmade leather purse than a shelf full of trendy lower quality bags. It’s next to impossible to stay organized when you have garments coming into your closet by the shopping bag full. In addition, as I outlined in this post, the ethical implications of purchasing fast fashion are, well, not good. I’m not perfect in this regard, I know, but I’m working on spending my money consciously!
At the same time, I don’t love paying more than I have to. Many of the clothes, shoes, accessories, and even home goods I purchase for myself are discounted. Here’s how I do it.
1) I have an email address dedicated solely to spam email, and sign up for mailing lists with my favorite retailers. That way, I get sale notifications and coupon without cluttering my primary inbox – the offers are there when I want to peruse them, and not on my mind when I’m busy.
2) I keep a list of items I’m looking for. As we head into summer, some of those things include flat espadrilles (for sunny weekends in Napa and at Tahoe), a navy striped 3/4 sleeve shirt (a classic look I can't believe I don't already have in my closet), and medium wash bootcut jeans (for a little retro flavor). When I see a sale, I can search directly for the specific items on my list instead of wasting time digging through stuff and potentially purchasing things I don’t really need.
3) Before I make an online purchase, I always check RetailMeNot. They have the web’s most comprehensive listing of available coupon codes, and I often come up with free shipping I didn't already know about.
4) I have an Ebates* account with the toolbar active in my browser. Ebates* is a shopping site that gives you a percentage cash back on purchases with participating retailers. The stores and amounts do fluctuate: you can get as much as 16% back during a promotion with Sephora, and 1-2% at a wide variety of stores. It's a great way to get a little cash back on purchases you'd make anyway, and is available from a shocking number of online stores. Petit Bateau? Orvis? Neiman Marcus? All yes!
5) I shop outlets with care. Major retailers with large outlet networks (think J. Crew, Kate Spade, even Saks) produce lower quality items specifically for their outlets, and there is always a subtle indication on the tag. I look for this and avoid - I want a deal on a great item, not a crappy replacement!
6) I subscribe to flash sale sites, but only the ones I trust and that carry products I usually buy, like Gilt* and RueLaLa*. I only purchase from these sites when I’m 100% sure I need the item in question, however, because their return policies can be strict and expensive.
That said – I’ll always pay full price for pieces I love that I know a) will never go out of style and b) will never go on sale. My most recent purchase of this type: my beloved Manolo Blahnik BB 105 pumps in black. A true classic!
*This post contains referral links, which will earn me cash back or shopping credit on the linked sites. I was not asked by any of these companies to advertise their products or services.