Seven Style Rules to NEVER Break

These style tips may seem obvious to most, yet I see someone breaking them every single day.  These all seem like common sense, but I figured I better remind you.

Do NOT Wear What Does NOT Fit ~  Yes, this is a pretty common sense tip, however one that often gets forgotten. Do not wear things that are oversized if you are trying to hide parts of our body, and do not wear things that feel too tight once you have literally poured yourself into them. Clothes should be tailored, and they should not be pulling anywhere regardless of your body shape.

Do NOT Waste A Waist ~ Every single body type should make use of a waist line. Even if you carry all your weight in your tummy, you can still create a waist with seaming, or by belting at the smallest part of your waist…..which is usually the bottom of the rib cage. That is the easiest way to create curves if you are a straight boy shape or accent your curves if you have already got them. A waist line also balances body proportion, so even if you have large hips or a large chest you always want to accent a small waist in comparison.

Do NOT Be Guilty Of The “Buy Without Trying” ~  A lot of women buy clothes in a hurry, try them on at home and find out that they do not fit, that they do not like them and then they just do not bother to return them…..what a waste!!  Save yourself the time on the backend by frontloading your time in the beginning. Take the extra five or ten minutes to try it on in the store….no exceptions!!

Lock and Load ~ One of my absolute musts is for women to go and get their bras fitted. You have to have it professionally fitted whenever your weight is altered by diet, and pre or post-pregnancy. Even the slightest bit of pounds lost can alter your bra size dramatically. I recommend that you go in every six months for a fitting to make sure everything is secured and of course, comfortable.

Shoes Are A Game Changer ~ If you are going to invest in any one item for the season, a shoe can change your basic outfit dramatically. If you are going to load up on anything ~ load up on shoes. They can change those black pants or plain skirt instantly. They can also liven up an otherwise dull outfit.

Do NOT Buy Things Just Because They Are On Sale ~ I am  happy if you find something half off that is absolutely amazing for you and it is something you need in your closet. However, women tend to think that just because something is on sale it is worth buying and most of the time, it just ends up sitting in your closet.  A sale should not be the drive for you to buy things, your drive should be what you need in your closet or what looks great on you. The price tag is really incidental.

Variety Is The Spice Of Life, But Stick With What You Know ~ I always say it is very important for you to try new things. If you are afraid of something, that is the first thing I think you should try on in a store. But when I say stick with what you know, I do think there are certain times when you find a great pair of jeans. Then, you should just buy a couple of pairs, because you can hem one to flats and one to heels. If you find a shirt that just fits like a glove and you have a larger chest that is difficult to shop for then buy [the shirt] in a couple of different colors and prints. Stick with what you know means stick with the sizes and shapes that work for you. Think of a pie chart when you think about your wardrobe. Split it up into quarters: Neutral basics, solid colors, prints and textures. If you have that ratio in your closet you will not have to stress out every time you go to your closet to try and mix and match.

What Gretchen Wore

The holiday season is in full swing. I found this black sequined dress at Lane Bryant for 40% off a couple of weeks ago. It was the last one they had, it was a little big on top, so I had my tailor take in the sides so it would be fit me like a glove. I added the strappy black heels from Famous Footwear, using a 20% discount on Black Friday. The entire look was purchased for less than $100.

Black Friday

We are fully entrenched in fall and Black Friday is just a couple of days away. Will you be shopping? I am all about a sale. To be a successful shopper, the key word is PREPARATION. So, spend some time checking out items that you might want to snap up and give yourself time to really think about whether you truly want or need it. Big discounts can bring on sale’itis, which is a condition where you are absolutely certain that you must have something solely because on the fact it is fantastic steal.

Aldo: Shoes, bags, and accessories already on sale will be reduced by an extra 50%.
American Eagle: Code GOBBLEUP will give you 40% off and free shipping.
Anthropologie: Every shopper will receive a popper including gifts and discounts that could go up to a $500 gift card.
Ariel Gordon: Spent some time eyeing a new delicate necklace to add to the collection? Pick it up now, since you’ll get 35% off any order over $150 with code CHEER2014.
Avenue 32: Shop select items for 30% off.
Bloomingdale’s: Receive $25 off every $200 you spend online (some exclusions apply).
Calypso St. Barth: Sale items will be reduced by an extra 50% and full-price items by 30%.
Cambridge Satchel Company: Select styles will be available for 40% off.
Converse: Shop the brand’s gift guide at 25% off, plus free shipping. Get 30% off some of your favorite lingerie brands via code THANKS30.
Dormify: You’ll get 30% off everything with code SECRETSANTA.
EF Collection: Everything’s 20% off with code CYBER20EFC.
H&M: Discounts will start at just $5 for knits, and you will get free shipping if you spend over $50 with code 2695.
Hudson: Grab a new pair of jeans for up to 60% off.
Intermix: Sale items will be reduced by an extra 30% in stores and online.
Jenni Kayne: Take 20% off everything online or in stores.
Joie: Take 25% off full-price and sale merchandise.
Kate Spade New York: The brand’s doing one of its legendary surprise sales with some items marked down by 75%.
Old Navy: Yeah, someone will win a million bucks, but everyone gets 50% off everything in the entire store.
PacSun: It’s 2-for-1 denim plus buy one, get one half off.
Rebecca Minkoff: The designer’s sale section was fattened up just in time for the big shopping day. You’ll get 25% off orders over $275, too.
Rebecca Taylor: Take 30% off sale items online (and off dresses when shopping in store) with code BF30.
Rent the Runway: Plan ahead for upcoming parties and score 20% off any rental over $75.
Shopbop: The more you spend, the more you save, with 15% off $250, 20% off $500, and 25% off $1,000, all with code GOBIG14.
Skagen: Been craving a new watch? The brand’s letting you buy two of its classic Jorn style for $150 and giving you free shipping on Friday only.
Stella & Bow: Do some browsing: certain styles will be on sale by up to 70% off.
Three Dots: Take 20% off full-price items and get free shipping.
Trina Turk: Shop happy with 20% off full-price items.
True & Co.: Stock up on new sexy lingerie with an extra 50% off sale.

Tips for Saving Money on Clothes

So, the last time you went shopping you ended up spending way too much and now you are really regretting it. This happens to almost everyone, including me. Saving money on clothes does not have to be difficult though. Here are my top tips for saving money.

1. Shop in-store, not online. I would not take online shopping completely off the table, but I will say that prices are often a lot less in retail stores than they are online. My theory for this is that stores do not have the physical space to hold as many clothes, so they are much more likely to mark things down, whereas online stores use big warehouses and they are in less of a hurry to cut prices. I do almost all of my shopping in stores. Plus you get to try them on!!

2. Use coupons and promos. Before you head out to shop, I recommend taking a moment to gather coupons and bring them with you. My favorite way is to set up a free email account and sign up for emails from your favorite retailers. Do not be shy about asking the store manager if there are promos going on that day. I often find they have coupon codes they are willing to share, and there is more wiggle room and potential for negotiating than you may think. And if you qualify, do not forget to ask for student and / or military discounts.

3. Pay attention to the calendar. Black Friday might be a great time to shop for electronics, but it is not necessarily the best time for clothes. There are two main seasons in retail, and when those seasons switch are the best two times to save money. These switches occur right after Christmas, and at the end of June.

4. Determine the retail cycle. Beyond the two major retail seasons, stores have smaller retail cycles where they get new merchandise in, and mark old items down, and so on. When new clothes go on the floor at full price, the old stuff is reduced. A few weeks later, they start marking down the new stuff, with smaller discounts. A few weeks later, they get ready for the next shipment and a lot of the store goes on sale. How to find out where you are in the cycle? Just ask. Stores will be happy to share this information with you.

5. Predict future markdowns. Finding out how long an item has been in the store can help you decide if now is a good time to buy it. If a store just got the item, but only a few are left, then you probably will not get a clearance price and a coupon or promo is your best bet. BUT if an item has been in the store for awhile and there are tons left, then you can usually count on that item being marked down.

6. Look outside the sale rack. As a budget shopper it can be really easy to put on blinders and race to the back of the store and only look at the clearance section. But you actually want to look elsewhere for your best deals. When retailers have tons of one item left, that they will often put them on a rack together, not mixed in with other clearance items. So look for sale signs throughout the store, and not just clearance in the very back.

7. Check multiple stores. If you find the deal of a lifetime but it does not fit, then do not give up. Find out if another store in your area has that same item in your size. A short drive could be worth it, and some stores will even ship that item to your house directly from a nearby store.

8. Sign up for credit cards. We have all been asked by sales people to sign up for the store credit card. If you do not shop there often, are not good with credit cards, or are working on improving your credit score, then it is best to say no. However, if you spend a lot of money at that store, and pay off the balance in full each month, then it is something to consider. Stores often give card holders exclusive coupons, and even better, some send you rewards like $10 for every $200 you spend.

9. Make friends with a manager. Many higher end stores will put you on an email list for exclusive events and sales that are local to you, and if you befriend a manager or store associate, they more than happy to keep an eye on an item for you and / or let you know when specific markdowns are happening. Having a friend in the store can really help.