Shopping tips by the girl on a budget:

Shopping: a hobby, an interest, a lifestyle. Shopping is a vital aspect of living the life of a fashionista, and yet, it is easy to shop, well, wrong.

The first thing you have to do before you hit the mall (or boutique, thrift store, whatever your preference really,) you have to know what you want. I know, I know, I’ve heard it a million times, and I’ve said it a million times, “I won’t know until I see it.” Well that’s great, but that attitude is leading you on the fast track to failure. Even if you just have an idea of what you want, be that dressy shorts, a little black dress, a tee shirt, really, a vague idea will do, you just have to know what you’re looking for. If you don’t you will end up buying things on impulse, which most of the time is not ideal.

One great way to keep track of the clothing items you need and want is by keeping a list. This may totally seem like a mom-thing to do, but trust me, a list really helps. On my list for example I have: a basic white oxford blouse, black boots (to replace my old ones), and a bright primary colored clutch. And that may seem too specific, but you can tailor the format of your list to fit you.

After you decide what you’re shopping for, you have to do your research. Find out what brands you like that sell what you’re looking for. Say you, like me, are looking for black boots. In order to find the best deal, I look around, I check out online shoe stores, I check out the thrift stores down the street. The trick here is not to be in a rush, don’t look too hard for something you really need tonight. If you’re in a rush, you’ll just be frustrated and probably won’t find what you’re looking for. Anyways, if you make the time, looking around every corner to make sure you’re aware of every option, (or at least, enough options,) will help ensure you get the best product at a price you and you’re wallet is happy with.

The next thing we’ve got to talk about is price. Finding the right price is essential for so many reasons. If you buy something at too cheap a price, you might be getting less quality, (Note: Forever21 and related companies,) too high, (many brands suffer from this one,) and you might be wasting your money. A way to prevent this problem is by doing your research (see tip above.) By doing your research you will see what other stores are selling this product for and you will see what a reasonable price should be. A good tip I’ve found in my experience is that when you’re buying something think about how many times you are going to wear it, and then decide if the price will work. If it is a pair of jeans at Banana Republic, and you’re going to wear them once or twice a week, it is probably worth spending the money, however if it is a super trendy, once-in-a-lifetime piece that you’ll wear once, don’t even think about splurging on it. A quick addition to that: splurging on items should be reserved for high-quality essentials for your wardrobe, things that won’t be going out of style anytime soon, and things you can incorporate and utilize in many ways.

Another problem found in the price category are sale racks. Number one thing about sale racks, do NOT buy on impulse, do NOT buy something because of the brand or the price, EVER. If something is on a sale rack, be weary, make sure it is in good condition, (or if there’s a minor problem, make sure it’s something you know you can fix easily without spending more,) make sure it fits right (do NOT buy it if it doesn’t fit, I don’t care how many times you say you’ll get to the gym tomorrow,) and make sure you really like it. Buying things on sale is a good thing, it will definitely save you money, but make sure you are getting high quality pieces, not just the junk the companies aren’t able to sell.

-Emily Gregor

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