Share thoughts about your shopping strategy? Here's mine

Just thought I'd share my shopping strategy...not that I think it's good or efficient by any means, but from the Team Picking Challenge, I find it interesting all the different ways people shop. So I thought it would be interesting for people to elaborate more about how they like to shop for clothes.

I tend to be a full-price, online, and return a lot kind of shopper. I wish I could be a good thrift/bargain shopper but I don't seem to have a knack for finding the treasures...no luck or patience, I guess. So instead I try to save money when I can by buying sale or Rack items, and (this may be kinda weird) by stalking and getting price adjustments if/when the things I buy go on sale. And by doing most of my shopping at places with generous return policies.

Before I joined YLF, I rarely shopped for myself because every time I would go into a store I would feel a little overwhelmed at all the choices, didn't know what I wanted, didn't know where to find what I needed, hated trying stuff on and leaving empty-handed, and plus I never had time to myself without the kids to shop. That's why it took me so long to start buying new clothes, and why it looks like I'm such a crazy shopper, because I've managed to compress five years worth of clothes shopping into just three months!

My current strategy (which I began with Angie's list of her Anniversary sale picks) is to browse online, pick out items I want, and order them online unless I think I'm going to have time to go to the store AND they have the item in stock to try on (Nordstrom allows you to search in-store availability). I tend to buy a lot things online, try them on at home and then return them if they don't work out. I end up ordering multiple sizes and multiple styles, etc. This gets expensive though and I have to run around returning things (or go to the post office to drop off returns). I do try to shop in-store when I can, but if I can go I don't always have a lot of time to try a bunch of stuff on. I think I only keep about 10-20% of the items I buy online, either because it doesn't fit right or doesn't look good on me. I need to get better at picking things that will look good on me before I order them...that's one of my new goals.

So today was another big unshopping day...I had stuff to return at Nordstrom, Anthropologie, Neiman Marcus, and Macy's. And today is Tuesday which is the day that new stuff goes on sale every week at Anthro. Each of the last few weeks, I have discovered that things I bought before (like the red corset trench or mustard blazer) have gone on sale, so when I'm at the store returning things, I ask the SA for adjustments on my prior purchases. Today I found three skirts marked down--one was my beloved navy/teal/olive pencil skirt, and two were skirts I had bought on sale but they had been marked down a second time. The sale skirts were within two weeks (their policy is to do price adjustments if you bought it within two weeks) but the pencil skirt wasn't...I had bought it earlier. But they had my size in stock so I was prepared to buy the skirt and come return it later with the original receipt. But the SA was really nice and just did the price adjustment on that skirt right then. She said, "You shop here so much that we want to keep you happy!" (I don't know whether to be embarrassed or flattered by that).

I have done that at Nordstrom too, searched for and gotten price adjustments on things I bought a month or two ago at full price that then later went on sale. I figure it doesn't hurt to ask for things, the worst that can happen is they say no. (I even returned a "final sale" handbag to Kate Spade once and they took it back...I didn't think they would, but they were really nice about it!) I've saved so much money with price adjustments...the red corset trench I ended up getting two price adjustments on because it was marked down twice, and it ended up being only half of what I paid! I never would have known to do something like this before, and I agree it sounds a tiny bit like cheating to do it that way, but it seems they don't have a problem giving me the adjustments and in return I tend to spend a lot more of my money there.

I love shopping at places like Nordstrom and Anthro with great customer service & generous return policies, as opposed to places like H&M and Gap where you only have a limited return window and can't take the tags off (plus I can never find my receipts), or especially Forever 21 where you can only return things for store credit and the jewelry is non-returnable. I'm more hesitant to spend my money at those places because I don't want to make costly mistakes. Anyways, that's my current strategy. I probably won't be doing this much longer since I'm almost done shopping for my wardrobe, but I thought I'd share the strategy that's worked for me so far.

How about you? What's your shopping strategy and how do you save money? And I'd love to hear how you bargainistas find great deals and treasures, because even though I've gotten better and not so anxious about going shopping, looking at jumbled clearance racks and shopping at thrift stores still makes me break out in a cold sweat! Like Suz said, it's a lot of visual noise!

Oh and PS I don't like the opposite extreme either...I went to Neiman Marcus to return a dress I had bought online and boy did I feel out of place there too! I looked at the tag on a jacket by Alexander McQueen...$15,000. Sheesh!

This post is also published in the youlookfab forum. You can read and reply to it in either place. All replies will appear in both places.

40 Comments

  • chewyspaghetti replied 5 years ago

    I have many strategies for saving money!
    Right now I am doing a lot of projects that keep me distracted (of course, then I am spending money on those). I am unsubscribed from retail email notices- that helps me not get as tempted. I am a big bargain shopper- second hand, close out stores, clearance racks, and coupons. If I am looking online at a specific item, I always do a google search to find the best price, and then do another google search to see if I can get a discount code. Because of a myriad of factors, shopping brick and mortar stores is difficult for me. When I am planning a trip, I go online to see if there are any printable coupons or specials. Sometimes I also check stock online so that I don't waist time looking for something that isn't there.

  • goldenpig replied 5 years ago

    Ooh yeah Khris! I forgot about that...I use evrewards.com to see which rebate program has the highest percentage back and use that...either ebates, big crumbs, mr. rebate, upromise etc. and use that or retailmenot.com to see if there are coupon codes for free shipping, % off, etc. Right now you can get 6% off Nordie's purchases with Mr. Rebates.

  • clearlyclaire replied 5 years ago

    Well. Since you asked..... :)

    I fall into the category of having more time than money and I get overwhelmed when I try to shop online. So once or twice a week I like to go out and shop my local stores while the kids are at school and hubby is on a trip.

    I buy with cash so I'm less likely to lose a receipt if I decide I don't really like something. Often I find unique things that *could be me* so I buy them and bring them home. If it is not *love* then I am eager to return them so I can buy something else. I'm pretty religious about putting my reciepts in a special drawer until I've decided to keep. I was in and out of Target and Ross several times this week that one of the SA's remembered me as I was making a return. She said, "Hey, I remember you from the dressing room! You're always here!" I was so mortified...but I laughed it off. I'll get the items home and try them on with all my other clothes and sometimes I can't even post pictures because they are so bad! (I tried leggings, over-the-knee socks and leg warmers over the weekend.) At least I can tell the losers now!

    Anyway, the stores are all really good about refunding my money except Goodwill, where they only give a store credit. I got my first ever price adjustment from Old Navy (probably because it was the first time I had ever paid full price for something in a retail store, lol)! I need to learn more about how those work.

    I tend to avoid malls as I get overwhelmed with the high prices and the huge department stores, but I want to try our outlet mall for Ann Taylor. I need tops, and I'm pretty sure I've exhausted all of my inexpensive options. It is a long drive and I feel pressure because returning will be difficult, but because of Angie's recommendations, I need to at least go try them on.

  • catgirl replied 5 years ago

    Fun question!

    I do not discriminate among shopping venues. I shop everywhere from dollar-a-pound places where you're scrounging on the floor to Nordstrom and Bloomingdales and everything in between.

    I am an avid thrifter and consigner, and feel it is a good, cheap and entertaining way to cure an itch for thriftable trends. For me, thrifting is as much about the thrill of the hunt and the surprise of finding something unexpected as obvious reward of saving $.

    Because of where I live, I also do a lot of online shopping and returning like Natalie. I am willing to pay full price for something I need, adore or have been desperately seeking, but I do love a bargain. I used to be a more impulsive grazing shopper - now I'm more of a retail predator.

    Finally, I used to sew regularly and if I had the time would feel comfortable making some of my clothes - but that is not an option right now.

  • Michelle replied 5 years ago

    You ladies are putting me to shame and have sooo much to teach me! I just shop. I do it more strategically since finding YLF, but I never hunt for coupons or wait for sales. If I find something and it fills a need, I buy it. I far prefer brick and mortar shopping, since it allows me to touch and try the clothes and saves me exorbitant international shipping rates, but have to use online a fair bit because of both my location and my size. I'd kill for a Nordstrom in Canada, since it's now the source of most of my favourite plus-size clothes. My size also makes me loath to wait for things to get discounted. The blazer I bought a couple of weeks ago, for instance...it was totally perfect for what I needed, and there was only one available in my size. It may have hung around, considering the price, but probably not...and the degree of tailoring made me decide to snap it up. I've since worn it four times in two weeks, both in dressy and casual combos, so already I feel it's worth it. But natalie has given me a timely reminder to watch for discounts and seek price adjustments. I don't think that's cheating at all -- I think it's savvy and sensible!
    The one strategic element of my approach is that I now identify concrete wardrobe gaps and strive to fill them and only them. No more impulsive jeans purchases for me, thankyouverymuch! As for things like bags, I now limit myself to one quality one per season, which will be whittled down to one every other season once my collection is up to par.

  • Jenava replied 5 years ago

    I typically am looking for something specific. I frequent fashion blogs and page through magazines and catalogs and get inspired to incorporate something specific into my wardrobe. I keep a running list of items I'd like to buy, and then I typically will stalk an item online. Often I will search the item out in store, either to actual buy it or just to try it on to make sure it's the item I really want. I don't like the hassle of returning items, so I don't like online-only stores and don't tend to shop ASOS and the like very frequently (unless the items seems beyond perfect).

    I don't like to pay full retail, so I try to wait till it's marked down to pounce. However, if the item is not expensive, or if it doesn't get marked down within several weeks, then I'll buy full price if there is no other better option. For instance, I originally ordered my cape during the Nordies Anniversary sale, but I was too late and my order got cancelled. However, they re-stocked the item at full price. I waited until early October and it still wasn't marked down, so I used my $20 coupon and bought it at full price. I searched and searched for something I liked as well and just didn't find it. The black sold out the same week I placed my order, so I am happy with the results.

  • Amy replied 5 years ago

    @ goldenpig - I'm madly taking notes. So many smart ideas!

  • goldenpig replied 5 years ago

    Jenava, which cape was it that you bought? I bought a Helene Berman camel cape that had originally been on sale at NAS--I saw it, but capes weren't on my radar then. By the time I decided I wanted a cape, it was full price again. I was so bummed but bit the bullet and bought it at full price. Well a few weeks later, I found it on sale online so I went back to Nordstrom and asked for a price adjustment--they refunded me $100 on the spot! If that's the same cape you're talking about, go back to Nordstrom right now and ask for a price adjustment!
    This is the one I have ($248 down to $148):
    http://shop.nordstrom.com/s/he.....sultback=0

    ETA: I just looked at your 60's pic and your cape looks like the black version of the exact cape I have! Go get your $100 back!!! :) Yay, I'm excited!

  • Makrame replied 5 years ago

    My strategy is very similar to Natalie's, or at least now it is. I used to mostly shop at ATLoft because it is on my way home from work and a lot of their stuff suits my style. I would usually look online to see if they had any good "general" sales, like 40% off everything, then head to the store. I stop by the big mall once every 3 months or so because it is near the place where I get oil in the car changed; at the mall I would only stop by a few smaller stores - BR, JCrew, Ann Taylor so it would take me no more than an hour to get everything checked out.

    Now I shop in stores even less frequently. I try to wait until Ann Taylor or BR has free shipping and order multiple sizes then return everything that does not fit. It is so much more helpful to try things on at home (and take pictures!) than to do it in the fitting room. And with free shipping at Nordstrom these days, it's even easier to order online. I put items on the wishlist and get them when they go on sale or, if they keep disappearing and reappearing, order them at full price. And, like Natalie, I ask for price adjustments, always. Nordstrom is especially good with those.

  • goldenpig replied 5 years ago

    What I love about Nordstrom and Anthro is you can get price adjustments even if you've taken the tags off and worn the item. Sometimes you don't even have to bring the item in, they can look up your prior purchases on their system and just do a "return and rebuy"--they'll refund the original price and pretend you're buying it at the new price. I have a Nordstrom Visa and an Anthro card (not a credit card but a "frequent shopper card") so all of my purchases are on their record and I don't need receipts or tags to return items. (Although I've learned to save all my clothing price tags and receipts, just in case). The SAs can be really helpful sometimes too. One time I was buying a few things at Anthro when they were having an extra 25% off all sale items, and she said "Oh it looks like you bought some stuff last week but now they're even cheaper, let me give you price adjustments on those." Wow, without me even asking! That is awesome!

    Oh, and the blog Effortless Anthropologie is great for listing what's on sale every week:
    http://effortlessanthropologie.blogspot.com/
    It's kind of weird (but fun)--there's a whole community of people dedicated to discussing what's on sale at Anthro, stalking items, rebuying and/or getting price adjustments, reviewing items, and notifying others of what hard-to-find items are seen in which particular store. There's apparently all these little tricks you can do like put things in your wishlist and even if they sell out, sometimes people return stuff and it appears as a "popback" at the lower price. I haven't learned how to do that yet but there's a lot of neat money-saving stuff to learn if you have the time. One of my coworkers is so knowledgeable about Anthro that she buys things on sale that are about to sell out, then sells them on Ebay for a profit (I guess because Anthro shoppers can be a bit cultish and obsessed with certain items so they'll pay a premium for hard-to-find items). Anthro is genius at marketing...they give names to all their garments to make them seem more personal and a hot commodity. For example, people will post things on the blog comments like "Saw two Lemon Liftoff blouses in size 8 at the San Francisco store. And I'm returning a Pansy Corset trench in red size 6 if anyone is interested, let me know and I'll ask if they'll hold it for you." Fascinating stuff!

  • rae replied 5 years ago

    Shopping is my main hobby - kind of like Una, I go at it from all directions. I am juuuuust getting it into my head that it is okay to buy and return later - It feels good to return a bunch of things when they are not right. Rather than feeling that I failed to find the right item, I feel happy that I won't wonder what might have been.

    My basic strategy:
    1) Identify needs/holes/wants

    2) Browse through categories that fit my needs/holes/wants fairly constantly (ebay saved searches, swap meets, my favorite online retail haunts.

    3a) If a contender is found, save to wish list/watch list/cart/etc. and waffle over the details to decide if it's worth a try.

    3b) If a pitter-patter item is found at an unacceptable price, launch into discount research mode (ebay, amazon, retailmenot, etc.)

    3c) If a pitter-patter item is found at a reasonable/good/great price, snatch it up immediately and waffle later.

    4) (optional) Return or donate the failures.

  • Bronnierose replied 5 years ago

    I'm definitely a store shopper - I need to touch the garment and try it on. One thing I've learned through experience - if it's on sale, I love it, try it on and it's good, BUY IT! The old "I'll get it next time" soooo doesn't work for me - invariably the gorgeous thing I've been waiting for is gone in my size when I go back to the store. Having said that, I've found that lots of shops here in Australia don't necessarily send their overstock/unsold items straight to the outlet discount store, either, so prowling a favourite shop is beneficial. And there are some amazing bargains instore that just don't even make it onto the website. I can't go past a "50% off the sale price" stand - my daughters groan every time I say "just hang on a sec, girls - there's a sale stand".... and I'm too scared to order things online. Sizes always seem to be different and I don't think we have as good return policies as you guys seem to be offered. And I sew, so that helps.
    I would love to have the confidence to shop online - I have a friend who does, but as she's pretty much a standard size 10 she's much easier to fit than I am. I like the idea of marking things on a wishlist online from a favourite store and then waiting for it to go on sale - I might try that for my first online clothing experience. (Shoes are a WHOLE different matter!!!!!)
    Any advice other Aussiesmay have online return policies would be greatly appreciated.

  • AJ replied 5 years ago

    I hardly shop onlne. It's too much of a disappointment to look forward to something only to return it because of poor fit.

    I am a bargain shopper. I've just recently started feeling comfortable with upping my price quota to the $30 range per clothing item if it sings to me. For shoes, I haven't spent over $60 yet. I do have a small monthly clothing budget and surprisingly, the past two months I've had money left over. (I think my area's endless summer weather has had a lot to do with this.)

    I like to shop at outlet stores, the mall and thrift/consignment stores. At the thrift stores, I skip over items from Old Navy, Walmart and Target. I'm after the better stores like GAP, Express, Banana Republic and designer names.

    I enjoy walking into stores and seeing what there is to see. When I enter a store, I first walk the perimeter to see what catches my eye. Then I browse the sale racks.

    There's not too much that I feel I NEED to buy, so I usually wait for love at first sight. Then I take it to the fitting room to see if we are compatible. Finally, I delve into the personal questions: Do you complement me? Are you high maintenance? Will you play nice with my other loves? Can I afford you? If I'm happy with the answers to those questions, then I take it home to meet the family!

    I used to feel defeated if I didn't leave with something. Now I know that I'm honing my shopping skills and leaving empty handed just means I have money to shop another day! : P

  • Scarlet replied 5 years ago

    I am Team Store because I make much better decisions that way. Sometimes I keep online purchases that are only okay.

    I am Team Full-Price for several reasons. My size often sells out, and even if it doesn't, I enjoy having and wearing an item for the weeks/months before it goes on sale. I live in Europe where there are fewer sales, so you don't have this stress of constantly wondering if you got the best price, like you do in the U.S. I actively avoid sales because I noticed I have made some of my worst purchases when I am influenced by a "good deal". I don't thrift. Just never been into it.

    I only buy things I love. I prefer to wait and see if I can't forget something than to buy and return. I am Team Wear and I never return anything (outside of faulty merchandise).

  • krishnidoux replied 5 years ago

    I don't live in a "big" city, and I noticed that stores get very few of each sizes. I often cannot find mine (petite, and shoe size 6.5 ). I wonder if the rise in online shopping had influenced that merchants stocking strategy. Here in Canada, it seems silly to go in a store and pay full price... although I admit doing that sometimes. Out of necessity.

    I too need to feel, touch, try on anything before I commit. So here is my strategy:

    At the very beginning of each season, having identified closet holes, I set time aside for myself to hunt my favorite stores. I look at, weigh, try on and have more luck with my size then. More choices. More choices help me taking sounder, financially better decisions. When I find the item, so far what I've been doing was buy it with my credit card, and then pay in installments during the following weeks.

    That was a step up from former no-strategy strategy, which was to wait until I had a bit of extra money to go hunt for that long needed piece (often a basic): I'd arrive mid-season when stores were sold out and after long unproductive searches would have to settle for one of the "rejects". What a perfect set up for more orphans, and more charity bags!

    At least by hunting right when the season begins I save lots of time and frustration.

    But I think there is still room for improvement. I don't like being forced to pay full price especially with the Canadian inflated prices. So maybe the best technique would be: shop early in the season, get to touch and try out the items I want, when I find a winner, write down their makes and names and then order them online.
    I wonder if that wouldn't end up being cheaper.
    Anyone has tried this?

  • Vildy replied 5 years ago

    Natalie, I'm winded just reading your post! I thought I was extremely determined but I'm a piker compared to you.

    I'm afraid that if I had to go through all that I would soon decide that clothes were unimportant to me and I'd just go fishin'. (not literally, but I'd find other interests and write off fashion)

    I do like clothing but I don't like shopping. Color and drape mean a lot to me and I rarely buy online unless I happen to have seen it in a store or I know the brand from long experience. I do all right buying online but it gives me agita. I also hate having to be home to sign for things. And I purely hate to pay shipping and the prospect of paying return shipping and making a trip to the post office turns me off. I won't use Zappos because I think they make up for the shipping by jacking up the prices. I also want to pay as little as possible so I don't qualify for sites that have free shipping if you buy a certain amount.

    I like thrift stores, smaller ones mainly, because I get turned off by seeing too much of the same color and styles. Though I do also buy retail. Sometimes full price. I avoid yard sales as much as possible - sometimes I am in the car when my friends want to hit a few - because I don't care for how people overvalue their possessions and are prideful about them. Also, they usually want to charge *me* higher prices. I tend to get my friend to buy the item because they will give her a better price. Same thing in some thrift stores where they gauge how much they can get from you. Now, my friend bargains in thrift stores and I keep forgetting to, unless there is some obvious problem I can show them (that I can easily remedy). My friend is good at showing them that the boots will have to have lifts "soon" and that will add to her costs.

    Because I do care about color above all, I have trouble shopping in almost all stores, thrift or otherwise, where the light is too low, there is no daylight, the light is too yellow, the light makes blues and greens pop but only in the store... I certainly will return things for that reason but I have never thought of returning anything to Goodwill. I pass along my mistakes in a kind of perpetual clothing swap some of us have. If it's a thrift item that costs a dollar I don't care because I figure it's the cost of education plus my favorite one is a social experience and very chatty. The volunteers are wonderful about saving out what people like and showing it to them. Like having a personal shopper!

    I tend to unconsciously look for things I've seen and made an impression on me. But if I've seen too many of the same kind of thing by the time I find it, I no longer want it. One way that I keep craving down is by reading sites like this one. I can appreciate that folks look swell in their outfits but it doesn't take long before even the idea of clothing is overwhelming once I've seen the endless good choices.

    Online, I have never successfully used a discount coupon. I've tried searching for them a number of times but never found anything that worked and I just ignore that idea now.

    I usually shop once or twice a week but for brief periods of time. I purge clothing continually so I don't accumulate too much. I also set a very low budget. There can be something I spot that I think I would really like but I know I am fickle so I restrain myself. I'm really at the point that there is very little in my wardrobe that I really care about. I enjoy my clothing but I have no more attachment to it. I realize I can like something now and like something else just as much or more later.

    I don't drive and there are numerous outlet type shops within an easy enough bus ride: Ann Taylor outlet, Ross, the Rack, etc. I absolutely cannot make myself actually go. I tell myself I really ought to but it never happens. Someday is not on the calendar.

  • Suz replied 5 years ago

    Krishnidoux, we are shopping twins as well as style twins! Or at least my shopping history is like yours. It is for sure a recipe for orphans, charity bags, and in my case, for an incoherent, unsatisfying wardrobe!

    You said:

    "But I think there is still room for improvement. I don't like being forced to pay full price especially with the Canadian inflated prices. So maybe the best technique would be: shop early in the season, get to touch and try out the items I want, when I find a winner, write down their makes and names and then order them online.
    I wonder if that wouldn't end up being cheaper.
    Anyone has tried this?"

    This is something I have been considering. I almost did it with the new winter coat I bought at full price; I mean I almost took it back, in the hope of stalking it online and then pouncing. But I didn't feel I had enough experience to do that. What if they really only HAD one in a tiny size, even online? What if I waited too long? The need was real. I might be left literally out in the cold. So I waffled about it. Eventually my husband said, "Keep it and don't worry; it is not worth the worry. You need the coat and consider the per wear cost; it is not a lot." Since at first he was concerned about the price, I felt better after he said that. I think I WOULD try this for an item where my need wasn't quite as pressing. A basic that needed replacement, for example, but was still working okay for this season.

    My other strategy, as if is shaping up, is to take travel shopping trips! I am going to Toronto for the meetup. For that trip, I'm formulating some goals; what do I especially want to look at and look FOR when I am in a big city that is not available to me in my town? Premium denim, for one. I have never really even tried it on; I would like to try on the jeans to see. I will also pay attention to footwear, because options for shoes are very limited where I am. And I'm going to make a list of other items that would be good to get if I happen to see nice ones at a reasonable price—I think for me this will mean tops and perhaps a sweater.

    I would also like to go to Montreal for a shopping trip. There, I hope to find more unusual items. And if I am lucky I would like to get to New York once a year, or to the NAS sale, planning in advance for this.

    What I would love is to find one or two boutiques either in my city or another nearby city that reliably stocked the kinds of clothes I like and that get them in my size. To be honest, I would be willing to pay full price for many items if someone at one of those boutiques knew me, could set aside my size, and give me a call when likely items came in. It would be worth it to me, especially now as I am trying to build up an entire wardrobe, essentially from scratch.

  • Irene replied 5 years ago

    I buy at stores ALWAYS. The only think I've ever bought online are flight tickets. This is Spain, mind you. But anyways, when I am at a shop and try something on and don't like it, I just leave it and that's it. If I order it, then I have to send it back. Finding fitting clothes is not that easy for me, I don't know for the rest of you. Right now, I'm a tad broke. I did get three shirts recently, and two pairs of dress pants (all of them really good deals), but I think twice before buying something. Yesterday I went shopping for a long cardi and a cheap blazer, and ended trying on other things. I liked how they looked on me, but still chose not to buy them, at least not this month. I know they are not super special pieces, and will sure find them or something similar in November, so I rather wait. I ended up buying a white button-down, but I really needed one, so that's ok.

    My feelings towards shopping have changed a lot compared to last year's fall season. A year ago I didn't have shooties, I didn't have mary janes, I didn't have coats nor leather jackets nor raincoats nor denim jackets. I didn't have jeans (or not many). Right now I have THREE winter coats, TWO anoraks (for like skiing or when it's super (mild) cold), TWO leather jackets and ONE denim jacket. I just can't admit any more toppers in my wardrobe, seriously. There's no space for them. The same with shoes, my collection has grown quite a lot. I have everything I want to have, and have no urge for the new trends because if I like them, I already own a similar item, and if I don't like them, well... I don't feel the need to get it. I really can say that I have 'everything' I 'need'. And probably more. Though I should buy a couple more scarves, and maybe a cute hat. And some bags.

  • replied 5 years ago

    Natalie, what is the time window for Nordstrom price adjustments?

  • Angie replied 5 years ago

    Very interesting!

    Scarlet could have written my comment. My strategy is *just* like hers - only that I live in the US.

  • modgrl replied 5 years ago

    Just reading this thread is making me tired! Since joining YLF, I moved over to Team full price and Team BBQ. My sizes (4P, 5.5W shoes) are impossible to find and sell out first. If something actually comes in my size and is reasonably priced and I NEED it, I will buy it at full price. I may wait for budgetary reasons, but I won't wait for a sale. If I do, my size is sure to sell out. I also want to enjoy the trend at the start of the season and I am willing to pay a premium to wear something for an extra few months. I used to be a sale/extreme bargain shopper only. For me, this turned out to be a recipe for a closet full of wardrobe orphans, so I don't do it anymore. I am also trying to buy slightly better things, and have less but better quality items. If I find an outfit formula that works, I will repeat it all season long over and over again. So I'd rather have 5 great pricier tops than 10 just OK, almost what I wanted tops.

    I always do my shopping online. Just thinking about taking time off from work, dragging my kids to the mall or getting a sitter so I can shop makes me physically ill. I try to shop at places that have free shipping and free returns, and always search for online discount codes, but if I have to pay return shipping, it is worth it to me. If I remember to do it, I will click through this site. Angie has brought so much to my life, I would rather see that she gets the small commission from my purchases since living on the east coast, I am not able to hire her in person.

  • Mo replied 5 years ago

    I'm team Rae. No buying mutliples online, planning to return what doesn't fit, here! Once I bought a BR white tee in both size S and PS but that's it - and both went back. I find paying for return shipping and walking to the PO to be a big drag actually so I'd rather not return.
    I would say over 75% of my wardrobe comes from Amazon and eBay, 20% from discount stores like Ross (and locally Beall's Outlet) with the remaining 5% from full retail stores. Now that I don't have a car, the outlet store is no longer in the mix, so it's 100% online for me right now.
    Like AJ, I have a certain mental limit for items and rarely go over them, I just don't 'see' items that are out of my price range, honestly. About $50 is my shirt, skirt, sweater limit and shoes might go up to $75, like some of the boots I bought this year. Some things like premium denim get closer to the $100 mark. I can count on one hand the items in my closet I paid over $100 for, and most were bought with gift money!
    It's not that I don't want, or am not willing to buy, nicer things. It's just that I know if I buy off season, or wait it out, I can get it cheaper. I have stalked a particular Target sundress for over 6 months, buying it when it popped up on eBay when the snow was falling in Tahoe. I have also bought a full length wool overcoat for $10 brand new in the height of FL summer.
    Finally, I don't have much trouble finding my size, or fit troubles in general. I usually correspond to company's sizing charts pretty closely. The biggest issue is armholes too low/big in tops and jackets. I prefer eBay sometimes because I can get exact measurements on items and be sure they will fit before buying.
    Oh, and all this year I have stuck with a $125 per month budget, including everything from socks to running shoes to belts and bracelets.

  • Aziraphale replied 5 years ago

    I'm with Scarlet and Angie. I buy in stores, almost never online, because I like to try things on. Shipping to and from Canada tends to be expensive. I try not to impulse buy, but I'll often go back if something pulls at my heartstrings and I can't get it out of my head. (I've been known to have recurrent dreams about footwear!). I rarely return anything. It just bugs me. I tend to pay full price because I like having things at the beginning of the season they come out in, and also because my size often sells out. I'm also suspicious of sale items, because I can't help but feel that "there must be something wrong with it" (however irrational this is). I usually go to the shops with an item in mind, something my wardrobe needs, but sometimes come home with something totally different!

  • goldenpig replied 5 years ago

    I hate paying return shipping so I try to stick to places that have free shipping/return shipping like Nordstrom, Zappos and Endless. I did do one order from ASOS which also has FS/FR but it took forever to get here (the first package got lost so they had to send a replacement) and I think it's going to take a while to get the money back from my return too. I have ordered from Bluefly but paying the return shipping annoys me. And Anthro used to have free shipping in September, but they stopped which is really irritating--I had to pay shipping for an item that was only online. I probably could have tried to go to the store and ordered it there to get free shipping though. They have something called "charge and send", where if your local Anthro doesn't have the size you need you can do a phone order from another branch and they don't charge shipping--I did that for a midi skirt that was on sale.

    For returns, since most of my purchases are from Nordstrom and Anthro, I find it's easier and faster to just return my online purchases in-store. There are a lot of online items that aren't in stock in the stores so it's worth it to me to shop online (plus I agree with Rita, shopping with kids is a disaster!). So once every week or two, I do an "unshopping day" and just gather up all my rejects and head over to the mall with my two big bags of Nordie's and Anthro returns (that's when I usually get my price adjustments taken care of too). I try to do it on Tuesdays and browse the sale rack at Anthro (when they put out their fresh sale cuts). A lot of times there are things that are sold out online but the local Anthro still has a few.

    A couple more tips...I've started adding things to a Wish List on Anthro & Nordstrom. Both for things I want and for things I already bought. That way I can keep track of prices at a glance and if I notice the price has gone down, that's when I ask for a price adjustment. Anthro's window for price adjustment is two weeks, but like I said earlier, they've made exceptions for me (if they say they can only do PAs for two weeks, the trick is to ask if you can do a "return and rebuy").

    As far as I can tell, there doesn't seem to be an official window for price adjustments at Nordstrom (maybe Marianna can chime in?). There were things I bought in July at the Anniversary sale that now are even cheaper and they happily did price adjustments on (like my favorite leather and tweed skirt was $230 on sale at NAS, but now it's at the Rack online at $140--for that amount of price difference, I have no qualms asking!).

    Finally, Jonesy gave me a super tip that Nordstrom Rack is online! Life-changing (and money-saving) since I rarely have time to go to the city to shop. The online Rack is a little hard to find, you have to go to the bottom of the Nordstrom page and click on Nordstrom Rack, then on the next page click on Rack Online. And there doesn't seem to be a way to search for specific items---you just have to browse each category (like sweaters or dresses), but you can limit the search to what items are in your size. Also, the Sale items at Nordstrom are in a separate section that you can browse and search. But if you're trying to find a specific item, just be aware that unlike Sale items, the Rack items do not show up if you do a search on the Nordstrom page (like if you're trying to find a specific item like "faux fur vest") so you also have to browse the Rack separately and look at their vest section. So once a week or so I browse both the Nordstrom online sale section and Rack online to see if there is anything I need (but then often I end up with random finds). Most of the things I order at the Rack end up going back, but sometimes there are a few gems, like that yellow dress that I would never have considered (it isn't my normal style) if it hadn't been on sale for so cheap. So I guess that's my equivalent of browsing thrift stores (not as cheap, but quicker!). Maybe once my wardrobe is complete, I may end up going to thrift stores more because I won't "need" anything, so the pressure is off to find and buy something...it'll be more fun to treasure hunt.

    OK I agree, writing out this whole convoluted shopping strategy is making me tired too! But think of what my wardrobe looked like before (maternity clothes and fleece) and what it looks like now...I think it's worth it! Anyways, hope my tips help save some people a little money...it's taken me a while to learn all of these tricks!

  • sarah replied 5 years ago

    Team Rita here.

  • replied 5 years ago

    I'm on team Rita too :)

  • MsMary replied 5 years ago

    I'm exhausted just reading this thread!

    After a year at YLF, I still don't have what I'd consider a coherent shopping strategy. Right now I'm on Shop Your Closet, which has been a nice break from the contant scramble to acquire The Next New Thing.

    When I start shopping again, I'll be trying to buy fewer items of better quality. Buying the "bee" blouse for almost $200 was a huge deal for me -- I love it and could happily wear it once a week, as opposed to my closet full of cheap blouses that don't really speak to me.

  • modgrl replied 5 years ago

    Natalie, Your shopping strategy is taking up too much of your time, mental energy and resources. Instead of having a weekly unshopping day, why don't you spend an hour at the store trying stuff on to see if it is flattering on you. If you LOVE it, BUY IT, TEAR THE TAGS OFF, WEAR IT, ENJOY IT and DON'T LOOK BACK.

    Both Nordie's and Anthro have pretty good customer service. If you call to book an appt with a SA, they will pull everything you want in your size, and find it for you if your store doesn't have it. That will save you the time of digging in the racks, and will save you the aggravation of returning 90% of the clothes that don't work out through online shopping.

  • goldenpig replied 5 years ago

    Rita, very good point, you're probably right! Hopefully as I get better I will learn what is going to look good on me so I don't have to buy and return. Although, I'm pretty much "done" shopping now because there isn't a whole lot left that I need so I won't be spending so much time shopping from now on. I still can't help myself though, I can't bear to watch something I bought go on sale for $100 less and not ask for the price adjustment. The purple cape I bought was $168, and went to $79.95, now I just found out it's been marked down again to $39.95, less than 1/4th of what I paid originally! All within the last month! That's too much money to pass up!

    I would love to shop with a stylist one of these days though...it would be a dream to have Angie shop with me!

  • rae replied 5 years ago

    krishnidoux and Suz, I do write down the names of items and stalk them online on occasion. The few times I've done this, it has worked out well in the end - a Cole Haan travel parka I found on Ebay for half the already-discounted Loehmann's price, premium denim in a funky engineer stripe...

    It only backfired once, when I stupidly passed up a lower-end maker bag I loved at Marshall's (a discount store) and then was crushed to find that it was all but sold out *everywhere.* I still tracked it down, but ended up paying more.

    I think the key to this strategy is to use it early in the season on current-season items that are on the expensive side. Something that is inexpensive to begin with *and* already on sale is less likely to be found online, let alone found for a cheaper price.

  • Transcona Shannon replied 5 years ago

    Suz & krishnidoux - that's exactly how I have been shopping lately and have found it super successful. I'll find an item in the store that I really like and fills a need, try it on and determine my size but not buy it at our ridiculous in-store Canadian prices - I'll go to that retailer's web site and stalk the item. Once it goes on sale or I get an online-only sale coupon, then I'll purchase it knowing the exact color and size I'm looking for. I find the online stores have much better sales and more frequent discounts than the actual brick and mortar store. Plus the brick and mortar store (at least in my experience) sells out of my size quicker than the website. But I have still had the experience of touching the fabric, seeing the fit, confirming the color in the store. Perfect example is the Gap leather drapey jacket from my first WIW - in the store it was $328. I ended up paying $139 on line 4 weeks later!

    I'm also an avid (ok...obsessed really) thrifter and consignment shopper. It's like a sporting event, digging through all the stuff to find the few treasures someone else didn't notice. I also find I can afford much higher end items this way since I certainly can't afford to pay full price for certain designers. Honestly, in every outfit I wear, there's at least one component that is thrifted. I also feel pleased that I've kept something from ending up in a landfill - it's basic recycling.

  • rachylou replied 5 years ago

    I find all the stores and all they have in them overwhelming. I guess I do a couple of things - like I don't go to more than two shops or department store sections in a given day. I also rely on a handful of shops / department store sections just to give myself some boundaries. And then, I window shop while walking my dog to see what's out - if something really catches my eye, I'll return. Oh, and I make my b.f. come with if I find myself suffering from attention blindness. He's very good at spotting things I just wouldn't notice.

    I rarely buy online, but I do browse a lot to see what might be in stores.

  • Scarlet replied 5 years ago

    *high-fiving Angie and Elisabeth*
    I am glad some people are on my teams. I know it's not the most cost-conscious way to shop, but it minimizes stress and maximizes enjoyment. Everything is time or money. Time comes at a premium for me. I control my budget by focusing on my annual budget.

    ETA: I hope this doesn't sound judgmental about other strategies. Far be it from me! I admire lots of other strategies. This is just what works for me.

  • chewyspaghetti replied 5 years ago

    Price Adjustments are another tool that I use. Nordstrom's is great for that, but even Old Navy and Target offer them. I think there is a smartphone ap where you can scan a bar code and it will find you the best price. Not having a smartphone, I haven't used it, but I remember seeing something about it.

  • mamaKate replied 5 years ago

    I confess I am right there with Natalie, returning 80% of what I buy. But I am not ashamed of this - it is the strategy that works for me! I have 6 boxes in my car right now with over 1k worth of shoes and boots for having kept only one pair. With young kids, my window of time for shopping is from 9 to 10pm so that's what works for me!

  • ironkurtin replied 5 years ago

    Wow. I also get exhausted reading this, but I relate.

    GP, when I first really started shopping seriously, I did exactly what you did. I found an item and if it got marked down I by gosh was getting my discount! I got some serious bargains this way but I also had to do a TON of receipt tracking. It was a lot of work, but I had no money and lots of time, so, no foul.

    Now my strategy has changed. I have become a serious label snob, but 1) because I don't mind wearing items gently used and 2) I'm in an area with crapola shopping, I mostly do online, ebay and consignment. Occasionally I do Gilt Groupe or similar and Yoox. Sometimes I manage to get to the Rack, which is when I do my "grazing" shopping to see what I can find. But no matter what, I only shop labels I know and trust, in sizes I know will fit me. The few times I've deviated from this have been the ones where I bombed.

    Now, I'm lucky in that I am very familiar with my taste, so people in the midst of their closet overhaul may not find this works for them. But the more you know what you love, and what loves you back, the better you can hone a strategy and be happy with what you buy.

  • annagybe replied 5 years ago

    I used to shop online a lot. So much so that I got banned for receiving packages at work. I still stalk things online(see multiple fringe boots posts). Now I shop more at stores. I tend to be impulsive in my shopping. Rarely do I have strategy to look for item X. I tend to find it cool, interesting whatever that peaks my interest. I don't mind paying full price. When I do shop styles I tend to go for more out there stuff style wise. More willing to gamble on something different if it's cheaper. I'm an inconsistent returner.

  • O. replied 5 years ago

    Good question. I am at a place where I am very happy wardrobe and shopping wise. If I can get here, anyone can.

    I have become very strategic and efficient shopper. That's not just miles away, but different world altogether to how I had been not even 18 months ago: overwhelmed, confused and unfocused.

    My time is too precious, so I try to shop very quickly. I have narrowed my shopping destinations to a few stores from all price ranges that stock clothes which suit my life/style and have good quality vs. price ratio and I tend to shop there mainly. I update my wish list and use that as the main guideline. I often shop and try at home, then return, but returns are less frequent – partly because I also shop less now. Because I now have all the basics and all occasions I can think of covered, it is easy for me to spot the gaps that need filling and search for that.

    I use my 4 top criteria (flattering colors / fit&quality / lifestyle needs / climate reality) to weed things out before any serious consideration.

    I do shop on-line, primarily for sale items or for some things that are not available in my local stores. I create bookmarks, 1 per store and I keep there the items I like. Time gives me perspective whether something really is what I like / need / want and I can also monitor sales and offers, in some cases there is price limit I set for certain thing (e.g. I refuse to pay over £50 for the boots that have fabric-synthetic lining).

    I also liberally step away from the wish list if I find something I like, but I'm definitely over the impulse and maybe buys. Plus, I really think through how much I'll actually wear something - even with what I currently have I don't get enough opportunities to wear things as many times / ways as I have ideas for. Price per wear has become my big guideline and I want to start wearing out my clothes, as opposed to passing them on for being wrong or after getting bored with them. I hug my current wardrobe, it took me a long time, a lot of money down the drain and many frustrations to get here, so I want to get the most of it. I love bargains, but the older I am the more I am interested in quality, lasting pieces that fit my dad's wise words "I am not rich enough to buy cheap things".

  • biscuitsmom replied 5 years ago

    Fascinating thread!

  • krishnidoux replied 5 years ago

    Ornella, I too make such lists!

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