Thursday, May 6, 2010

Shopping tips

A colleague today asked me where I got my clothes because, as she said, she knew I must have some tips since I have the same teacher budget as her but seem to have a nicer wardrobe.  This is actually the second time someone has asked me for shopping tips, the other time being with a postal clerk.  I told her I would write down my tips, and now I am almost too embarrassed to give them to her.  I look truly obsessed.

But I'm not!  Or am not now.  But fashion is one of my hobbies.  And for awhile there, I had money.  While I no longer have money, I have retained my taste for well-made things.  But I've always loved a good deal, though.

eBay – Sign up for searches for particular brands or key words, price range, sellers, etc.  This is really my go-to source these days.

Etsy – DIY site good for vintage and handcrafted goods.

Thrift stores – I like Goodwills and Value Villages located in older or trendy neighborhoods.  Suburbs are usually only good for mall-type clothes. – Sign up on this site for next-day notifications when an item you like goes on sale.  They only support popular shopping websites, however, like or – Another site where you can sign up for notifications, but this time for brands that you like. – On a forum for handbag people, this section lists good deals that pop up.  These people are truly obsessed and unabashedly material, but they know of good sales before anyone else.

Sign up for the mailing list of any stores you like so that you’ll get first notifications of sales. 

End-of-season sales – Typically the best kind of sales, often with graduated discounts that eventually end around 70% off.  I’ve never gone to Tototakaelo, but they have two stores in Seattle and run a popular e-commerce site.  Other sites with good eos sales:,

A.P.C. also has twice yearly end-of-season sales at 50% off almost everything, but you have to act within the first few hours of the email to get the good stuff.  With the recession, sometimes there are free shipping or 30% sales offered in season.

Bookmark items that you really like and do an “open all tabs” once in awhile to see if they’ve gone on sale.  Purse forum people will say to check daily, but I can't advocate for that kind of compulsion.  ;)

Check for coupon codes on or before buying online. offers fabulous discounts on designer and mid-range stuff.  Sales start at 9 AM. You have to be logged on and ready for battle at 9.  Membership is free, but you need a referral (I can do offer you one if you want).  I’ve never bought anything from them, but my colleague has, and they’ve gained a lot of press lately. also carries designer goods.  Their end-of-season sale is called a “sample sale” and offers items at a fraction of the original price.

If you want to brush up on your fashion knowledge, is a good forum.  As might be expected, many of the members are young and vapid, but you also have a lot of industry insiders who contribute (stylists, boutique owners) or consult the threads for reference (magazine editors, models, “it” girls). Again, membership is free with referral (which I can give you).

If you buy anything online with regularity, sign up at one or more of those rebate sites like or Mr. Rebate.  You can get 3% or so of your purchase refunded by clicking through to the website from their website.  It adds up.

As you can see, I really prefer internet shopping these days, but places like Nordstrom Rack are worth checking once in awhile.

Good sites for inspiration
I love street style and fashion blogs, and there’s a very active community in the blogosphere now.  If you are a regular blog reader, it’s worthwhile to have some site keep track of updates for you, like Google Reader or Bloglovin’.  Some of my favorites include:

thesartorialist – the original street blog – the sart’s less famous but more skilled girlfriend
fashiontoast – louche blogger style with a cali influence
stylerookie – eccentric style, smart girl.  famous for being only 13 when she started
liebemarlenevintage – romantic, vintage style.  runs a popular eBay shop
life in travel – for shameless drooling.  the woman who runs it is very sweet, though
…and tons more

e-commerce sites
La Garconne – the site has exquisite taste, excellent styling and cool editorial features
Creatures of Comfort – great sales. A.P.C. eventually ends up around 60-70% off from them
Shop Bop – what a dumb name, but good sales and free shipping to and from
Revolve Clothing – good sales, free shipping, and coupon codes

Anyone have shopping tips of their own?