Friday, January 4, 2013

5 Tips to Clearance Sale Shopping

Many of you who follow my Sunday Best posts may have noticed that I buy ALOT of my clothes on clearance. Yes I am a self proclaimed clearance queen! I have been shopping clearance racks for over 15 years now and I have turned it into an art form.

I grew up in a very poor family. We're talking welfare, food stamps, Ramen for dinner, Bradey Bunch 8 kids in one house kind of family. I was the second to youngest and my parents really didn't have the time or money to care if I was "in style". At the tender age of 12 years old I decided I loved fashion to much to keep wearing all the hand me down ugly thrift store clothes I had in my closet. So I took it upon myself to make my own money and buy all my own clothes. That is where my journey began and over the years I have perfected the art of thrifty shopping. So without further ado I bring to you my tip for shopping the clearance racks.

1. Know when to shop: When is the best time to shop the clearance racks? Well it's rather simple... when the seasons are changing. When the Fall/ Winter clothes start coming in the spring/summer clothes start hitting the clearance racks. Usually they start stocking for the next season a month or two before the following season starts. Fall clothes start hitting the racks around August and Spring clothes around February. Guess what though, I know a few secret times to shop when the sales are even deeper. Late October to early November is an amazing time to find extra discounted items. Stores are stocking up for the holidays so if there is anything left in the clearance section it's usually discounted ON TOP of the already low clearance prices. These clothes usually include the previous season's back to school items. You'll see signs that say 50% off clearance items... I picked up a super cute pair of palazo pants for $4 during one of those sales in early November! You can also find deep discounts just after the new years when stores start clearing out all the overstock from the holidays (Right Now!!). This is a great time to load up on accessories and beauty products that stores stocked up on for the holidays and now need to clear out.

2. Buy classics: As you may already know clearance items are the merchandise from the previous season that didn't sale and the stores need to get rid of. That means there are many items on the clearance racks that won't be in style after the season ends. So when shopping the clearance racks you want to avoid highly trendy items and instead look for classic items that will work in your closet for years to come. This way you can save money on the classics and splurge on next seasons hot trends. Here is a list of things to look for:
Neutral colors- Neutrals mix well with almost anything and transcend from season to season.
Classic patterns- Polk-a-dots, simple florals, stripes, and chevrons are some examples of prints that never really go out of style.
Classic shapes- Choose shapes that have always flattered your figure no matter what the current trends are. For me that is dresses with empire waists, shirts that flow away from my midsection, boot cut pants, and high waisted pencil skirts. Figure out what shapes work for you and keep an eye out for them.

Here is a list from of the Top 10 Must Have Women's Wardrobe Staples: Flattering Jeans, A Little Black Dress, Cardigans, Basic Tees, Fitted Blazers, Button-Down Shirts, Pencil Skirts, Black Pants, Trench Coat (I think this could also be a Pea Coat), and a Day Dress.

Keep all these things in mind while browsing the clearance racks and you'll be set.

3. Save Time: Have you ever walked into the "Sale" area of Forever 21 and then walked right back out because it was such a crazy mess that it gave you anxiety just looking at it?  Many people think looking through over crowded clearance racks is too time consuming and stressful. Well guess what! I have found the perfect way to cut down time and anxiety while searching through those mounds of discounted clothes. One thing to remember is the sizes noted on the racks are usually never right. Clothes are always miss placed in the clearance section, so don't limit yourself to just the area that is your size.
Now here is what you do:
Walk up to a rack (I usually start with the one that is my size then work my way around.). Place your hand lightly over each item and walk around the rack. You don't have to look at each piece individually just graze over them. Then only if you see a fabric that speaks to you pull that piece out and look at the whole item. If you don't LOVE it in the first 10 seconds put it back. If you LOVE it check the tag to make sure it's in your size and price range. If so GREAT hang onto it to try on and keep going! If it's the wrong size hang on to it and keep an eye out for that same fabric because you might find it in your size somewhere else. There you have it! Only pull items that speak to you and avoid the rest! So simple right! Years ago I went through every piece of clothing in the clearance sections and it took hours now I'm in and out and onto the next store within minutes.

4. Know when to say "No!":
I used to have the worst problem with buying clothes just because they were on sale and then I'd never wear them. The bottom line is don't buy it if you don't love it!! Make sure you absolutely love it, try it on, think about what else you can wear it with, and how comfortable you are in it. Will you forget about it as soon as you leave the store or will you be thinking about it for days to come? If and only if you think you will get more then your money's worth out of it, buy it. A shirt for $3 isn't a good deal if it just sits in your closet with the tags still on.

5. Stay Ahead On Fashion Trends: Like I motioned earlier clearance items are items that are no longer in season. So in order to make sure you are picking up clearance items that won't be out of style in a month, you need to keep up on fashion trends. If you know what trends are coming in the next couple of seasons you can pick trendier items that will transition well from season to season. Here are a couple examples of how I made this work. At the end of last summer I found an amazing pair of light green skinnies for only $5! Since I knew that one of the fashion trends for next fall/winter would be pops of color I decided they would be a perfect item to transition into the next trend. I also recently picked up a beautiful Kenneth Cole light weight leather jacket only $20 originally $109! I decided this jacket would be perfect because Spring 2013 will include a lot of leather mixed with soft feminine fabrics (which I have tons of yippee!). So if you stay up on what fashion trends are coming in the following seasons you'll be able to pick
out clothes that wont just sit in your closet.

I hope these tips will help you get the most bang for your buck! If you have any further suggestions or comments please feel free to share.


  1. These are super great tip! I especially like the save time advice! I should try it nexttime. F21 clearance is crazy! thanks for sharing!

  2. Awesome tips, they work for thrift shopping too - my mom is a clearance queen and I've tried to learn from her. The just say NO is huge!


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