Designer items are the dream of every fashionista. They’re gorgeous, extremely well-tailored, good at boosting your social status, and outrageously expensive. However, they’re not exclusively reserved to the rich; not-so-rich people can afford them as well (if they know a few shopping rules). Note: This may only apply to middle class and above.
1 – Do some research. In order to buy designer clothes, one must know at least who the designers are. Go on Style.com and read the list of designers, and become familiar with these names. See their collections and get used to each one’s individual style. The names everyone must know are Chanel, Dior, Versace, Gucci, Lanvin, Yves Saint Laurent, Prada, Givenchy, Marc Jacobs, Roberto Cavalli, Valentino and Armani. Of course, there are many more designers and brands, but these given names are for you to begin with, if you don’t know much about fashion.
2 – Become familiar with the designer item range of prices. They usually range from $200 (a small item such as a pair of sunglasses) to $3000 for pret-a-porter (or ready-to-wear) and more than $75000 for haute couture. There are also more expensive (and cheaper) designers. Brands such as Juicy Couture, Versace Jeans Couture and Ralph Lauren are the “cheaper”-but still expensive-designer brands, (while Dior is among the most expensive). Buy a few glossy magazines like Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar or Elle to learn about the prices for every brand.
Some designers also make lines for cheaper stores or create their own cheaper line. Some of these lines are Marc by Marc Jacobs, Versace Jeans Couture or Miu Miu (by Miuccia Prada).
Don’t be too shocked by the high prices. Yes, they may be exaggerating, but most of the clothes are worth it. Not to mention that, if the shop assistants hear your complaints about the high prices, they will treat you with considerably less respect.
Save some money. If you usually spend 95% of your monthly income for necessities (even if you/your parents/your spouse have a pretty large salary), it’s time to consider whether everything you spend your money on is truly a necessity. Spending money wisely will help cut off your unnecessary expenses and affording more quality products and services. The golden rule is, if you don’t need it or don’t enjoy it significantly, don’t spend your money on it.
Save some money you spend on the bills by trying to finish your work before it gets dark outside and go to bed early. Turn off the lights when you’re not in the room (to save energy), take a shower instead of taking a bath (to save water), ride a bike instead of driving (to save fuel) and so on. You will help both the environment and your budget.
Manage your money wisely when going out. If you used to go out often and spend lots for stuff you do not need, then these count as a waste.
Consider getting a part-time job if you have the time. Every buck you have matters.
3 – Visit the local designer multi-brand boutiques so that you know what designer clothing is available in your area. Not all designers can be found in every country. Generally, every big city has good clothing stores, and every capital city (or the capital city of a state, in the USA) has at least one designer store. Know what brands does the closest designer multi-brand store sell. If you want items made by a designer that’s not available in your country, try shopping on sites such as at eBay or Amazon. They ship internationally as it goes for everything you want to buy and it can’t be found in your country (not only clothes). The disadvantage is that you can’t see the product before you actually buy it, which can trick you into buying knock-offs. Be careful.
4 – Know your necessities and priorities. It’s crucial for you to know what you need in order to shop effectively-nothing is as bad as spending $1000 on a certain item, then coming home just to realize it doesn’t match with anything you already have. Look in your closet. Analyze it as a whole, not the individual pieces. How is it like? Think when you dress up for a certain occasion; do you find something appropriate to wear?
If your wardrobe is full of non-designer clothes, look for the basics when you go shopping- a pair of black pants, a white shirt, a trench, a grey cardigan, a pair of black shoes, a suit and the little black dress: buy all these, in the most flattering version for your body type, and of the best quality you find. If you have these, you can mix-and-match them with the clothes you already have.
If your wardrobe is a mixture between wise style choices and fashion mistakes, between good quality and not-so-good quality, then you need to get rid of most of your poor quality clothes and buy items that add a glam touch to the good quality ones you already have. You probably already have the neutral-looking basics; so start acquiring things that draw attention to themselves. Look for interesting details such as sequins or lace, geometric prints and neon colors.
If your wardrobe consists of clothes that look good on the hanger, but don’t flatter you, sell them at a thrift store or on eBay or Amazon.com; and try looking for clothes that suit you next time. Buy some books on this subject; they’re very useful.
5 – Gather a decent amount of money for your next shopping tour. Take between $400-$1500 with you when you go shopping for designer items, so you’re sure you can afford something in there.
6 – Know some tips when it comes to pricing. The factors that contribute to raising the price are the amount of fabric used (smaller, thinner clothes will cost less than long, thick clothes), the number of details sewed on it (like buttons or sequins; a top will cost way more if it’s sequined than it would if it were plain), the designer (see above), the date you buy it at (expect discounts before Christmas), the current stance of the world economy (prices will be either much lower or much higher than usual during an economic crisis), and which season it was made in (if it’s older, the price will be lower, so the customers will buy it- no store likes to have too old items in stock, but throwing them away is a major waste of money).
7 – Look for wearable designer clothes. Each season, designers want to create something totally new and original, to prove themselves, the press and the world that their fantasy is unlimited- and it really is, but at the price of creating absolutely unwearable clothes. Follow this rule: if you don’t imagine seeing an average person wearing that on the street, it’s probably unwearable. Or picture yourself at the Fashion Police and imagine what they would say about you. You can be original without looking like you’ve just landed from outer space.
8 – Use common sense. This is perhaps the easiest part; knowing the narrow line between expensive, quality clothes that are worth the high price and clothes that are simply not good enough for their prices, no matter how good they may be. If you’re unsure of whether to place it into the “worthy” category or in the “not worthy”, divide the price to the number of times you would probably wear it; the lower the number you get, the better the item is. The magic of designer clothes is that they’re made from the finest fabrics, by the best tailors; therefore, they last longer in time and don’t tear apart very easily; not to mention they look extraordinary for a long time. Also consider the originality of the item; if you can find basically the same piece of clothing at hundreds of other shop, don’t buy it- when talking about common items like jeans or white T-shirts. So, if you know you won’t wear the item too many times, or if the design is too common, look for something cheaper at another good store.
9 – Don’t let trends influence your shopping principles. No matter how much magazines would try to promote a certain item; if it doesn’t fit your needs, don’t buy it. Women who pay more attention to trends than to their own style and fashion necessities tend to buy more things they don’t need, therefore waste more money. Don’t buy clothes that will go out of fashion just as fast as they became popular. When buying something, ask yourself, “Will this be in fashion after 10 years?”. If it won’t, it’s not worth your money. Imagine that today, everybody loves and praises a certain clothing item you possess, and tomorrow, the same people who admired the item a day ago now call it ugly and out of fashion. Trends change extremely fast, and most of us can’t keep up to them. Doesn’t it annoy you?
10 – Don’t go shopping when you’re sad, tired or hungry. Doing your shopping when you’re not in your best mood is not the best way to buy the stuff that’s right for you. If you don’t have much time, eat something on the way to the store (be sure wash your hands after you eat), take a rest for 10 minutes or call a friend to spill out the reason of your unhappiness and feel more relieved.
11 – Choose your own clothing style and stick to it. If you’re still searching for your own fashion identity, you will waste much money on clothes that you won’t like eventually because at that time, you didn’t know what you like.
12 – Hunt for sales. Even if they’re not huge, it is a great deal, because it can mean paying $100 or less for something, which is an important sum of money for most of us. Sales usually take place around Christmas or at the end of a season.
13 – Take great care of the designer items you already have. Maintained improperly, clothes get dirty, loose, creased and so on. Know how to look after them; if you don’t maintain them properly, you will most likely throw them away because they no longer look good (which equals hundreds and maybe even thousands of dollars wasted) and go back to the store to get more clothes, which would probably end up exactly like the others. If you’re not sure how to clean a certain item, you have two options: either take them to a laundry, or look at the label (no, not the label that says the price or the brand of the item)- clothes come along with a label that instructs you on how to clean it. If you’re still uncertain about how to clean a certain piece of clothing, read articles in the Laundry subcategory at wikiHow.
Look your best when entering a designer store. Being not-so-well-dressed will make the shop assistants respect you even less than if you complained about the prices. The clothes don’t have to be necessarily designer; just good enough to make you look polished and well-groomed.
Know that designer clothing is not only made for and worn by the models. Look for clothes that flatter you, regardless of their price; even if something’s very cheap, don’t buy it if it doesn’t look good on you.
What else you can do is buy designer clothing and at the end of the season sell it to a second hand store. This way, you get your money back to buy new clothes. So, let’s say you have 500$ of spending money and you spend it all on a new wardrobe, but then it goes out of style the next season. If you sell your clothes and advertise that they’re designer, you’ll probably get most, or all of your money back.(plus, if you need extra cash for designer clothing you can also sell some of your old clothes,non-designer, etc.)
If you happen to run into an item that is extraordinarily cheap for designer clothing (like $175 for a pair of pants), don’t buy it right away; try it on, see if it looks good on you, think if it fits your style, then buy it. Just because the price is incredibly low, it doesn’t mean that you should automatically buy it. If it’s not your style, then save up that “tiny” amount of money for something you truly like.
You can also buy high quality clothes and accessories from brands that, while they’re not as renowned as the designer brands, also have very good stuff at lower prices (no more than $500 for otherwise extremely expensive items, like natural fur coats, for example). The average prices for these brands are $50-$350, with a few exceptions above and below these prices. They’re more affordable and almost as high-quality and unique as designer clothing. (J. Crew, Ralph Lauren, Anthropologie, etc.)
Go shopping after you pay whatever taxes and bills you may need to pay, but before the 20th of each month. People have more money at the beginning of the month.
Even extremely expensive clothing can have flaws. It rarely happens, but it does happen. Look for anything that seems suspect in the item’s appearance and/or feel. If you find anything, don’t buy that item.
Never buy knockoffs. They’re not a substitute for designer clothing. No matter how well it imitates the original, you can always tell a knockoff from the real thing. Remember that most knockoffs are made by laboured children who are hired illegally for a miserable salary and they’re often exploited; and if you’re buying a knockoff, you’re supporting this.
Don’t turn shopping into an addiction. It’s true that a woman never has enough clothes, but being desperate about shopping is plain unhealthy and pointless, since you’ll never be happy with what you have anyway. It’s OK to keep buying clothes even after you’ve developed a large and various wardrobe, but keep it in normal limits.
By any means, avoid going bankrupt because of lacking common sense in shopping. If you’re not wealthy, you should worry about every investment you make, and know whether it is worth it or not.