If you had asked me about ten years ago if I was a retail shopper I might have answered “Well, of course my dear, who isn’t.” Today my answer is…”me, that’s who.”
I wanted to pen this before the holidays to show off my “put an X through retail shopping prowess,” but I was too busy shopping off label, and on label, whichever was cheaper. So, in order to help you refresh your wary credit cards for your 2020 back into budget promise, take these bits from a shopping addict to heart: It doesn’t have to be this way, I promise. You won’t need a New Year, new decade intervention, and you won’t feel like you need one, if you lead yourself into healthier shopping waters.
HOHOHO MEANS NO-NO-NO
Yeah, I’m with you…emotional, pretty purchases are the jam. I love them too. It’s okay to get sucked in if the credit card vacuum has a coupon attached to it. Black Friday deals have now collaborated with Cyber Monday festivities, parlayed into yes, now Green Monday deals.
Holiday means volumes and volumes of purchases for retailers so they can afford to take one for the team. And, take advantage of that. I did all my shopping online, and the best deals are there. Do not shop anyone who isn’t offering something for something. Everyone is competing for your business, so be choosy. See who has what on their Santa list, and go to the website. From November to Dec, 24, deals abound.
The kicker? Black Friday, Cyber Monday and this new shit, Green Monday may have very delicious names, but deals are there until Dec 24, so don’t rush it. Be careful and find the most solvent pathway. I bought NOTHING without a freebie or discount, and I mean nothing. And, unless a store is offering kick-ass mall deals (like Fabletics…how I love you…www.fabletics.com) stay away from the stress and bustle and hot chocolate from Godiva that will incite delirious passion purchases. It’s fun and the rush is ubiquitously pleasing, but when you get home you will crash from the purchase high. NOT worth it.
STAY ON LABEL and OFF GUILT
Year round, “designer” or on label retailers have outlet sites sometimes tagged to their website…take advantage. Whether you want to believe it or not, January-March are those friends you would rather not have hanging around when you are on a diet…they order disco fries and you order a salad at the diner. They are the depressing winter doldrums that never die until the crocuses bloom…but shocker…it’s still winter! You still need winter clothes, and your kid needs long sleeves and snow boots. Or, if you are planning a winter get away, look at last year’s overstock. Yeah, nobody cares.
The best websites for outlet or sale shopping that continue through the current season:
Gap - Although sometimes a boring mainstay, Gap has been tried and true for casual, almost disposable, classic wear for years. I am not a Gap girl, but so many things for my kids are, because the sales can be crazy. If you shop online, you will get an extra percentage off, and when you see what you save at check out, it’s really insane.
Best for: Kids coats, outerwear, pjs and every day “I don’t care wear.”
Gap Factory - Yup, an even cheaper, more frugal sister to it’s bigger website, if you don’t care about this year, last year, you will score big here. Remember, kids get bigger and look good in anything cute. Take advantage and save the big purchases for yourself…hopefully you aren’t getting any bigger.
Best for: anything overstocked, out of season, or last year. Yep…flip sequins, too.
J. Crew Factory - Ok, here is the kids fancy clothes motherload. I am NOT a J Crew girl at all. BOOOORING. I often wonder how pedal pushers and flats could be considered sexy, and I still don’t get it. But, If Marilyn Monroe slept with all the Kennedy’s in her capris (they may have been off at the time), maybe there is something to it. However, I will shop here for my younger kids. A 300.00 searsucker suit cost me 67.00 last year for Gianmarco’s kindergarten graduation. They have great graphic ts, and leftover shorts, and jeans that carried me through summer vacation. Classic chinos, dress shirts, ties are all here. Caviat: sometimes the stock is a little low, and they do tend to run narrow without a lot of give, but keeping that in mind, you should hit a few jackpot deals. And yeah, if you like chinos and ruffles, adults can do that here, too.
Ralph Lauren Sale - Yes, that’s right, stuffy, classic Ralph has it all going on. Make sure it’s the sale link, and sometimes you will get a sale on sale, and the bargains can be great! The best thing about Polo, is my boys, especially have been wearing it for dressy occasions since birth, because it never really goes out of style, and what kid doesn’t need a pony on his chest for Christmas dinner. I have never failed here, and they ship quickly.
Best for: Very classic, polo clothing, shirts, sweatshirts, jeans and sometimes shoes.
Under Armour Outlet - For the boys, some girl stuff, but the sports enthusiast will love the sale game they play here. Shoot for the stars, and the hoops, and you will walk off the court with the seven point winner. Oh yes, men and women will be sprinting down the track to grab grown up deals, too. Even sneakers and work out gear.
Best for : Under armour kids “sets”, sweatshirts, sneakers.
shoes.com - They have really dug their heels in, but this been around the block a few times site does offer the best deals and always with a coupon on top of it. Sometimes their models may be a little long in the tooth, but classics like UGGS, crocs and tons of sneakers are always discounted.
Best for: shoes that don’t need the latest style to be recognized as adorable or pretty or fashion forward. Good selection of name and cheaper brands. Really good for UGGS, although they usually do not discount them on top of the coupon. Who cares snow boots, girls boots, sandals and things that may not have a “name”, but you will save a ton.
Caveat: Unless you go to overnight shipping, they are VERY SLOW. I noticed that sometimes the shoes may come from a third party vendor and not the warehouse.
Ugg Closet - The trick to ugg closet, is just like a kid’s messy closet, you only open and close it a few times a year. But, when it’s open and clean, my God, you start cursing out the retailers who dare to sell this stuff at the gauged prices they do. However, you have to keep your eye open for it. Definitely around the holidays, and the stock can be a bit random, if you find something you have been looking for, it’s well worth it. www.ugg.com/sale can get you a few comfy bargains, but when you see the closet come up in your email, charge like a Pamplona bull. Register for emails on the UGG site, and you will get notices.
Andrew Marc - Holy mother of coats…my favorite. If I could find Andrew Marc, whoever he is, I think I would make out with him. I have purchased over the years the most beautiful, trendy, incredibly put together outerwear I have ever owned, and his sales are in sane! It’s a good time of year now for great discounts…like amazing discounts, but he keeps it going all year long. We tend to forget in July that in four months, we will need a winter coat, but Andrew is just the best, and he knows you will.
Best for: Women’s outerwear.
I used to google website coupons every time I purchased something. Now, I have my new friends, tried and true, never let me down, and who always know when I’m in need of a break. Actually, they anticipate my every buying move, and are there, faithfully every time…words unnecessary. If you download these sites onto your browser, they will automatically search for coupons while you are on the website. Rakuten and Honey will make money for you! So will that cute little Piggy. And, guess what, they pick up the tab and never ask for anything back…ever. Friends with benefits. Free benefits.
Rakuten - Rakuten is the most amazing thing besides a free pair of Sam Edelman heels in the world. Cash back with EVERY PURCHASE on EVERY WEBSITE, and, I am living proof. I get checks back just for shopping. It takes a few months, but “money for nothing and your checks for free” should be their motto. If you don’t download this, you are just retail DUMB. Seriously. Nothing to do. One download, and everywhere you shop it just pops up. AMAZING.
Honey - Another sweet move I can’t live without. I lick my lips every time I get honey points and turn them into gift cards. My last reward was 100.00 at Sephora…yeah, just for shopping everywhere. Honey, when downloaded also automatically searches for coupons for that site, and the retailers must feel the sting, because honey will find a coupon when no one else can. Just check out, and honey will search. Honey saves your honey points and spins them into honey gold so you rack up points FOR FREE and accumulate gift cards. Every website…every time.
Cently - Cently is this cute little dachshund icon that searches for coupons when he’s downloaded. Just like honey, he searches for specific website codes, but no money back. But hey, a coupon is money back.
Piggy - I guess the cute animal theme works well with coupon retailers. From Cently to Piggy, these well behaved little creatures are like truffle hunters, always looking for the best deals. And piggy does that, with cashback too. Download onto your browser and Piggy appears like a faithful piggy pet to save you money.
Remember Sy Simms? “An educated consumer is our best customer?” Get educated and know prices so you know your deal is good, and being educated always takes time, a few lessons, but after you get the hang of it you will spit on retail.
PART TWO: The best places to shop for what, and who thinks they are too hot to participate in the coupon game. Also, how to outsmart expensive, no coupon clothes retailers who don’t know about their cheaper understudies. Coming soon!
One of my most beloved “go-tos” for summer lovin’ is the short-short and sleeved, usually flowy top. I saw this pair at South Moon Under and it was love at first sight…for them, and me.
This navy top from Heartloom is what I call summer dark: not as dark and gloomy as wintry black, and gorgeous paired with white or cream, so it’s the perfect mate for this cutsie-petutsie tweed short by Drew.
I generally like my shorts shorter, not that I love my legs at all, but I think the almost to your calf, full thigh length is just a little too nineties soccer mom for me. They show these shorts on a very skinny unrealistic model, and I noticed there is not a lot of “give” to them at all, so recommendation is to go up a size.
If you know me, you know how much I love chokers, and even with the cold shoulder and flirty embroidery of the top, it’s a great accessory, here. I would lighten it up with a nudie or even white.
A great shoe…my go to forever and ever is a gladiator…I would opt for ankle length here, or even something like this Steve Madden cute nude called IRENEE. This cute nude is great here. This shoe comes in a host of other colors and a gorgeous print that can get along with your ankle quite well.
Time to show off those legs, mom!
Knock knock … who is it … it’s SUMMER!
So, this Mick Jagger/Lilly Pulitzer hybrid is one of those combos you would see first as separates, and some nut job would say “try ‘em together,” and you’d be like “WAHHHHH?” But, guess what, it works!
I wore this for opening night of our drama production of BYE BYE BIRDIE, and I loved it. This Chiquita mini skirt is definitely not for picking bananas, unless you wear a very opaque booty short to cover, well, the booty. It is waaaay shorter than it looks, and as much as I do love, For Love and Lemons, they have no give, support the zipper industry, and fabrics are very sheer. (This skirt does have a decent liner). My recommendation here is to go up a size. I will stay this, with a few tugs after I got up from my seat, the skirt didn’t move, so that was a plus. FLaL can be a little pricey, but they have staying power, and I have never had a repair issue with any of their stuff. I love their rompers and summer clothes, but keep in mind they are more fitted than my beloved Free People, and when there is a zipper, I tend to cringe, but if you over-fit you should make it.
THE SKIRT from REVOLVE.COM
Top this one…..with the Eagle Montain Tank from Project Social T. If you still consider yourself a late seventies, early eighties burn out rocker, this season was named for you. “Band Ts” or rocker tees are the IT item to pair with anything…skirts, shorts, denim and I am loving them with a glitzy choker. Revolve paired the tank with the FLaL skirt above, and I thought the top was cropped….it’s not. So, I knotted it to meet the band of the skirt, which made the top more fitted, and the outfit itself more streamlined. I would even go a size smaller, (yes, smaller) to get a more fitted design.
THE EAGLE MOUNTAIN TANK from REVOLVE.COM
The armholes on this t were wide, probably on purpose to don a “fun bra” or bralette with some lace or criss-cross. This one, from South Moon Under has a fun front, visible above the t, or something tike this, peeking out of the back. Either will cover your regular bra in a fun, show some skin way.
Hip Mom Hint: Since the skirt was shorter than I imagined, I candy-coated with a long black cardigan for “pop” and coverage. A great open toe spring bootie is the footwear here. Stay neutral or nude. There is so much going on with mega prints here, you don’t want to look like the NBC peacock.
Revolve clothing, or www.revolve.com solves a lot of my what to wear with what problems. I know what I like, I generally know what’s going to look good, and hopefully fit, but I am not great at pairing things. Sometimes I see stripes with polka dots and fringe with lace and wonder who imagined something so abominable … that worked so phenomenally. Revolve will show you an entire outfit put together when you pick just one item. They complete the ensemble, and I love it!
Continuing with the feminine spring theme, is this flowy but minimally fitted number from Flynn Skye, the Leah Dress, is simple, with a sexy flare. I love, love, love choker necks because I love chokers, period. This little mini has one built in, and the large keyhole in the front is a window to the one in the back. Paired with a bootie in the spring, even a gladiator, or an OTK boot (I drool over OTK), it’s a quick throw on and completely outfitted answer to “what do I wear?”
I don’t love the way “hip adolescent” (that’s what I call my impossibly skinny, pre teen figured mannequin) represents this conservatively hot number, so check out the link and get dressed!
HIP MOM HINT: put a bralette, preferable lacy one, over your bra to cover bra peek-a-poo at your cleavage and allow your back to be open. My peeps at Free People love their layered lingere, and I love them for making them. Lol. Something like this would work:
Just go on their site and search “bralette.” There are so many others out there, but for an idea, start here. Victoria’s Secret, although I DO NOT use their bras for everyday wear and support, does have a great line of what I call “fun bras..” bras with lace and crazy backs that are great underneath open backs. I love those, and wear them to death, especially in warmer, bare-all weather.