Shopping Smart

Shopping is an art.  Like any art, it needs practice.  Becoming a smart shopper takes time and the development of skills – skills to add the right purchases to your wardrobe instead of wasteful catastrophes.  Here are some tips you can use on your next shopping venture that will help clear the jungle in the fashion retail world.
!Set Goals and Objectives:  Being specific is the key.  Once you complete a wardrobe inventory, you will be better able to jot down exactly what you need to get.  This is just like creating a grocery shipping list.  Consider writing down not only what item or items you need but also the dollar limit you would be willing to spend.  This will reduce the chance of impulse shopping or of buying the first item that comes close to what you want – but is priced higher than what you would normally spend.
! Don’t be rushed: Pick a time when you won’t be rushed andwhen sales people will be available to serve you.  Weekends and weekday lunch hours are overwhelmed by shoppers.  Moreover, give yourself enough time to shop.  Haste really does make waste.
! Know Fashion Trends:  Familiarize yourself with specific style names, such as paisley, double-breasted, fitted shirts, sarongs and bolero jackets.  When you can communicate effectively the salesperson will be better able to help you find what you’re looking for.
! Dress Appropriately:If you plan to purchase evening attire, remember to wear or bring along the appropriate undergarments and shoes.  If you plan to purchase a suit, bring the shoes and shirt you’ll be wearing.  When shopping dress comfortably and be sure to wear comfortable shoes with flexible soles so you can last a long time.
! Shop Alone:  This may seem like a difficult task, but it’s the wisest.  When you shop with a friend, not only do you have the friend selling you but the salesperson too.  If, in an relationship where both parties need to have input in the final decision, put the selected items on hold and bring your partner back to ok the purchase.  Men, consider doing your wardrobe shopping yourself so you can determine your own best look and the right fit.
! Try it on:  Since humans make clothing, each piece will vary slightly.  Further, sizes are not standardized in the apparel industry so they will vary by brand as well.   High priced clothing tends to be generous in size.
!Know the return policies: For regular priced as well as sale items at stores.  Most stores have liberal policies when it comes to regular-priced merchandise, but there may  be some limitations for sale items.  Ask the salesperson how many days you have to return an item and whether you’ll get your money back or receive a merchandise credit.
! Purchase shoes in the afternoon: Since feet expand as the day goes on, a better fit is possible in the afternoon.
! Try off priced, second-hand, factory outlets, catalogs, and the Internet for bargains and convenience:  Off-priced stores like Marshall’s, and TJ Max often purchase consolidated sale merchandise from department and specialty stores and pass the savings on to consumers.  These stores also carry manufacturers’ overruns, which are quality goods and great buys for consumers.  Manufacturers’ overruns are apparel items that were over-produced and undersold.  Manufacturers sell these items to discount stores or in their own factory outlet stores.  Catalogs and the Internet offer substantial product information and are convenient for purchasing and returning merchandise.
! Realize that designer, bridge,better and moderate priced merchandise offer value depending on what your needs are:  Be aware of the different levels of workmanship and detail at the different points.  The costliest garments generally offer the most superior workmanship, high-fashion styling, and the best all-natural materials.  However, this is not a hard-and-fast rule.  In some cases you may be paying hundreds of dollars more for the brand name alone – so don’t be fooled.

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About vseitz

Marketing Professor at California State University, San Bernardino and author of "I Don't Wear A Suit."

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