Saturday, July 6, 2013

Career Clothes at Bargain Prices

Required to Dress Professionally

My job has a dress code. Employees are required to dress professionally. In the last two or three years, state and federal budget cuts have reduced my income. This income reduction means fewer clothing purchases at the store. I have always liked to bargain shop for clothes, but it has been more of a hobby than a necessity. Now, I find myself bargain shopping out of necessity.

Where to Look For a Bargain

·         Thrift stores - Thrift stores are usually run by volunteers and the clothing sizes are roughly organized into sections. Great bargains can be found, but you generally have to spend some time searching for them. Good Will and Salvation Army are nationally known, not for profit, thrift stores. Most of these stores are fairly well organized. I shop at both.

·         Resale shops - Resale shops usually, but not always, sell on consignment for individuals. Generally, a consignment store will not accept clothing from low-end retailers, or stores with names that end in "mart."

·         Yard sales - Look for subdivisions where professionals and career people live. Professional and career people are great about selling off their excess clothing for $5 or less. Citywide yard sales are a good place to look for quality, second hand clothing, too.

Determine Your Color Range

If you sort your clothing by color before washing it, you already know what your color range is. Don't sort your clothes? Then look through your clothing and see what colors dominate your drawers and closet. My color preferences change by number of items in a certain color, but I always have clothes in the range listed below.

·         Slacks and skirts in - black, brown, sage and olive green, navy, or gray.

·         Blazers, jackets, or cardigans - black, dark red, brown, gray, or navy

·         Blouses in solids or prints  - yellow, green, pink, blue, dark red, or brown

·         Purses in bright colors - lime green, turquoise, red, ivory, or purple

Layering bright colors and prints with neutrals, such as black, navy, brown, and gray, is such a fun way to add color to clothing. My favorite way to use bright colors is with blouses and purses. An occasional print skirt and dress also hang in the closet, but each one is in my color range.

Let the Scanning Begin!

When I approach a clothing rack, I locate my size. I know this seems like elementary information, but experience with thrift store organization leads me to tell you this. Sometimes it can take a few minutes to find your size... Start scanning for prints and solids, within your color range, that will match clothing you already own. When you locate a suitable item, remove it from the rack, and examine it. Look for two things on the label or labels

·         First, what brand is it? - I have several brands that I look for because the clothing fits me well.

·         Second, is it wash and wear? - Dry cleaning is not in my budget, but skip this step if you can afford the cleaning bill. I will pass up a bargain if a garment requires ironing. Ironing is not my least favorite task, but it is in the bottom five.

Examine the complete item - front, back, and sides - for wear, small stains, manufacturing defects, snagged threads, missing buttons, or torn fabric. If a button is missing from a jacket, blouse, or cardigan, look for a replacement button or two on the inside of the garment. I do not know how many times I have found the replacement button(s) in place, ready for use. Yes, there are people who will get rid of clothing because the button fell off; even when the manufacturer stitched a replacement button onto the inside of the clothing. Frugality is genetic in my family so I truly do not understand this.

Sorry, I did not mean to be sidetracked. Where was I? Oh, now that you have thoroughly examined the garment and it is defect free; go try it on and look it over again. Now that you are happy with the fit of your bargain find, either pay for it or put it on the checkout counter before continuing your bargain hunting. I always need two hands to skim through clothing racks.

 $1.89 Outfit

Earlier this week, on my way home from the post office, I read a new sign; Crazy Lady's Resale Shop. Happily, I stopped to see what bargains I might find in this new shop. Quickly (the hubby was at home waiting for the mail), I scanned the clothing racks for career clothing. A tropical print blouse, in subdued blues and greens, caught my eye; I removed it from the rack. The tag revealed that it was from JC Penney's and was in almost new condition. Swiftly (remember the hubby was waiting for me to bring the mail home), I placed the blouse on the checkout counter. Returning to the clothing racks, I continued skimming through the clothes until a pair of gray slacks caught my eye. My heart beat happily; I just knew these slacks belonged with the blouse I had already found. A quick check of the label verified my guess; the slacks were from JC Penney's and matched the blouse. At the checkout counter, the cashier announced my total,"$1.89." Wow, a two-piece outfit, in excellent shape, for $1.89. I could not wait to get home and show Bill my new outfit and give him the mail.

Three for $5.00

Two days later, on my way home from a family visit, I stopped at another resale shop that supports a ministry, God's Hand Extended; in Owensville, MO. Guess what I found? My scanning revealed a  brand-new, black and white cardigan from Macy's, a like-new, red and black floral blouse in my favorite style, AND a crocheted tablecloth in my favorite color, celadon. Total cost of the three items? $5.00.

My plan: Pair these two with black slacks or skirt, and layer with a black or white shell. The red and black top is formal enough for a special occasion. 

Tell Me About Your Best Bargain Find

Are you ready to start your own bargain adventure among the clothing racks of your local resale shop, thrift store, or yard sale?  Remember, bargain shopping should be FUN! Leave a comment and tell me about your best bargain find.