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More Smart Shopping Tips


At discount stores: Hit “sale” racks first. Often there are only one or two total of each garment on sale. It’ll hurt to see the perfect item walk out the door with someone else because you were focused on new arrivals. Unless you personally have the skills to mend zippers, fix holes, attach buttons, etc, avoid items that need work in order to wear them. Chances are you wont complete the project in a timely fashion, and at that point, the fact that you saved money to begin with is moot. Stay away from super trendy items on sale racks—buy classics—neutral-colored tanks and tees (black white gray tan) that never go out of style. Never buy something because you know it will look good if you lose ten pounds; It will weigh like a brick in your closet.

Shopping in general: Breathe deep. Scan the whole room. Don’t allow the first sales person who addresses you to dictate your experience, as they will likely drive you to the newest, more expensive items. Use your senses to absorb the merchandise—touch, feel. Walk the perimeter—discounted items are usually on endcaps and towards the backs of stores. Once you’ve gotten a feel for what is being offered, find a competent sales person if you have specific questions.

Second hand stores: On quality—make sure to examine the stitching, lining, all buttons, and zippers on used clothing. Dont pay attention to sizes at vintage or second-hand stores, those numbers likely meant something different twenty years ago. The numbers are more like general guidelines, and really don’t mean much. So don’t freak out if all of a sudden the extra large fits, when usually you are a medium. Go for fit and comfort. (Do the stretch, reach, or bend test–you’ll know if something is not going to work out if you practice a few “real-life” movements in the dressing room. If you find leather boots (cowboy), leather bags, cashmere, or anything that says JCrew, that is in god shape and fits properly, buy it. Crew and v neck sweaters generally never go out of style.

Flea markets and discount stores—go early in the day when stores are generally more quiet and the “help” is fresh.
At flea markets—good to know what you’re looking for, because vendors will not often “hold” things for you. Going to see what else is around is a good idea, but be prepared if the item you loved is sold when you return. Sometimes you just have to pull the trigger (and always worth it to see if prices are negotiable . . . just don’t offend the vendor with a super low offer!)

Full retail items—winter coats—pea coats, trenches.

Lists are great, and will help an inexperienced shopper stay focused. It is of course ok to stray from the list, but not unless you’ve tackled at least part of what the trip was intended for. In the long run, you’ll feel unsatisfied when you get home and realize you have to plan another afternoon at the stores.

Cohesive room—think about lines. Repetition. If your couch has straight lines, continue that feel with a coffee table with strong, straight legs. Finish—If you have a coffee table with chrome–follow that with a similar frame or frames on the wall or around the room. In the end it’s about consistency.


Lacy is an award-winning food writer and blogger. She lives in Westminster with her family. Google

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