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Was It a Come-On? But, I Got It on Sale ...

A sale is a retail store’s way of flirting with you. “Come into the store and see the bargains!” It’s very tempting especially in lean financial times; a sale is a great way to supplement your wardrobe. If it’s really a sale, that is.

Many times the higher end stores bring in sale clothing that is not up to the quality that of their non-sale items. They are loss-leaders. Clothing sold at almost no profit to attract buyers into the location where they will then see the high profit clothing.

This is how it works; the sale garment isn’t as nice as their other merchandise but its cost, while lower, isn’t that much lower. Just a few steps away is a rack with obviously better quality clothing and, while the price is higher, it’s not that much higher. The buyer rationalizes for just $30 to $40 more, I can get this out fit and it looks so much more expensive. That’s true, but you have just blown your clothing budget.

Occasionally, stores make the loss-leaders easy to recognize. Suddenly there are “For Sale” racks stuffed with clothing. At the beginning of the day, there are two or three items of the same style available in multiple sizes. There may be as many as eight to ten different styles, but each size holds these outfits.

 Are they still a bargain? Sometimes yes, but most often they are not. 

  • Check the quality of the fabric. Is the weave tight or loose?
  • Look at the zipper; are there any puckers in the seams holding it in place? Does the bottom of the zipper area buckle?
  • Also make sure to check any stress seams (areas where the clothing will have additional wear). They are usually sleeves and front and back seams on pants, shorts, or capris.

Be wary of the Early Preview Sale. The stores advertise that they are showing an early preview of the next season’s styles. They announce a pre-season sale and mark the clothing down to entice you to buy early. Is the clothing really for the new season, or is it last year’s models that didn’t sell? Is it unsold clothing from another part of the country where the seasons are several months ahead of yours?

There is nothing wrong in buying any of these items, if they meet the quality test. The way to take the best advantage of these loss-leaders is to spend a day or weekend when you are not under any stress and shop in your own wardrobe. Make a list of all your outfits and find out what you really need to complete this season’s look. Most likely you have most of the basics, but plan on spending less than 10 percent of your clothing budget on the trendy new item that is so “in” now and will be so “out” next season.

True bargains can be found as the seasons change and unsold items are reduced in cost. Evaluate the items you may choose to purchase carefully. Is it a basic staple of your wardrobe? Will it go with other items already in your wardrobe? It’s really not smart to try to introduce a new color scheme of clothing late in the season, unless all the pieces you need are right there on the sales rack. Even then it’s a risk; do you have the necessary accessories to make this new blend of colors work? Do you then have to find shoes and other accessories? Is this color going to look dated in a year?

Unless your life style revolves around dressing in evening clothing and going out frequently, only purchase cocktail dresses, suits, tops, pants, and skirts when they are on sale. Think about cost per wearing. If you blow your budget on a “must have outfit” that you only wear once—it was very expensive indeed.  A far better choice would be to invest that money in an article of clothing that you will wear twenty times a season. Evening separates have made it possible to significantly reduce the cost of this look by adding a new top and wearing with evening pants or long skirt.

Happy shopping!

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