Day #209: How to Buy Designer Clothes at Budget Prices

I love nice stuff.  Unfortunately, money IS an object for me.  I can’t afford to buy the designer labels I love at regular prices.  I’ve tried everything as a compromise.

Designer Label Alternatives

I learned how to sew.  I tried to convince myself that the best clothes at the discount stores would work just as well if I took good care of them.  I tried shopping at thrift stores and consignment stores.  Each of these alternatives works for me some of the time, but none of them seem to work all of the time.  When I have time to sew, it’s great.  I can buy the fabrics in the colors that suit my taste and tailor them until they fit like a glove.  All of that takes a lot of time and these days time seems to be my scarcest resource.  Target has had a history of finding top designers to create clothing lines just for their stores.  I’ve tried them and they look great on the rack.  However, these garments tend not to be of the same quality as when those same designers whip up items for the big department stores.  Even still, these items work great for me in certain situations, but when I have a big event, I want the good stuff.  Thrift stores and consignment stores often have designer clothing, but it’s hit or miss.  Sometimes you get lucky and find something that is just right and in your size, but you never know.

The Shopping Trip

This weekend, my favorite department store was having a sale.  They were giving an extra 50% off of already reduced items.  In addition, I had a 15% off coupon for items that were not on clearance AND $20 in rewards coupons for being such a loyal customers.  Armed with my coupons and rewards, the family and I hit the mall to find me a new dress.  That was my first mistake.  This was not a casual outing.  This was serious business.  I needed a dress for a special occasion and I didn’t want to pay an exorbitant amount of money for it.  This type of operation takes focus, patience and persistence.  Plus, the sale was ending today and my coupons and rewards were expiring soon.  No pressure, right?  Needless to say I could not accomplish the task with the children racing up and down the aisles and asking every five minutes if it was time to go.  I opted to abort the mission and return later in the evening without my escorts.  In the end, I was successful.  I ended up with a dress, a blazer, a sweater, a t-shirt and two pairs of boots.  All items bore designer labels and I ended up paying $160 for $760 worth of merchandise.  That amounts to a 79% discount!  I would say that was a good shopping day.

How to Save

A 79% savings may sound extraordinary, but let’s put it in perspective.  The markup on clothing is quite high.  In fact, designer clothing found in fancy boutiques may be marked up by as much as 300%.  That means that a pair of designer jeans in a boutique selling for $200 may have only cost the store $50.  Department store markups tend to be a bit lower, but they are still significant.  Even discount department stores tend to have a markup of over 100%.  So, let’s take a look at that new dress I got today.  The original price was $160 and the markup on it was probably about 200% so their cost was likely just under $55.  That means that by selling the dress to me for $39.99, the store lost money on the deal.  Here’s what all of this means to you when shopping for the best deals:

  • Keep the markup in mind.  Based on average markups, deals of 50% – 75% off the original price are pretty good ones and if you can get more than 75% off, you are really doing well.
  • Wait for the sale.  If it is selling at a normal pace (about 10% per week), then it should go on sale after about six to eight weeks.
  • The best sales happen when the seasons change.   Depending on the items, these tend to happen between two and four times per year.
  • Take advantage of store specials.  Sign up for email alerts at your favorite stores in order to cash in on additional discounts.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *