Chances are you're not yet quite ready to shop for spring clothes. You're probably still snuggled up in your heavy sweaters and sweatpants, slugging through cold rain and blowing snowstorms. But, hey, it is sale time and worth browsing your iPad for some great deals, right? And if you're really serious about scoring some fashion bargains, you'll head out to your favorite store even if there's a blizzard.
But before you Google "Sale at Macy's," here are some ideas to keep you on budget:
—Shop in your own closet. I know you've got cabin fever and you want to hit the streets, but it really pays to assess what you already have at home. Many of us have a strange way of buying the same thing over and over and over. How many pairs of black leggings do you have?
—Make a list of what you really need. Sounds simple, doesn't it? But how many times have you wished you had a blouse to go with that long emerald green skirt you bought last year just because it was the Color of the Year? You may even want to take that skirt with you to find its perfect mate.
—Replace the basics. No, it's not as fun as finding that furry faux coat at 75 percent off, but if your old trustworthy trench is getting a little rugged around the edges, this is the perfect time of year to consider replacing it with a newer model. You know classics will always be good investments, especially if you can find them on sale.
—Be prepared. Wear comfortable clothes and shoes when you go shopping. Make sure you wear clothes that you can easily slip on and off. Leave the tight boots at home and wear flats. Suit up like a shopping warrior who means business, but wants to have some fun, too.
—Check out apps. There may be plenty of good deals out there, but there are even more online. You can often get extra discounts just by perusing the websites of the stores you intend to visit. When you get coupons in the mail, stick them in your purse immediately, so you will have them with you when you go shopping.
—Don't get overwhelmed. If the racks are brimming over with a tangled mess of clothes, just take your time. Get into the spirit of skimming the hangers for those hidden treasures. I often do this by color. I know I don't need another black pair of pants, so I just skip over to the next aisle.
—Try the merchandise on for size. This is a step that many of us just want to skip when we are in sale mode with a hundred other shoppers. But it can pay off. How many times have I just "known" without a doubt in my mind that that sweater would definitely fit me, and then get it home, and it swallowed me up? Remember, sizes can vary from label to label drastically. So unless you know that you "always" wear a size 8 in a particular designer jean, err on the safe side and try everything you buy on, no matter how good a deal it seems.
—Get out of your style rut. Sale time is a great time to reevaluate your own wardrobe. If you've been stuck in a rut, take advantage of buying something a little "outrageous" when it's marked down. Try something that may not really be "you." You never know how good it may make you feel ... especially when you got it half price.
—Explore the new season. You may have promised you would only shop the sales, but once you're in the stores, look around. Check out the new spring merchandise that's bound to be lurking just inside the entrance door. You never know what kind of deal you'll find ... before it goes on sale!
Sharon Mosley is a former fashion editor of the Arkansas Gazette in Little Rock and executive director of the Fashion Editors and Reporters Association. To find out more about Sharon Mosley and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.