Smart Shopping at Season-End Clearance Sales

Do you love shopping the sales, but find too many of those so-called bargains end up gathering dust in the back of your closet. Want to be a more savvy sale shopper?  Here’s how:  to take advantage of end-of-season bargains – without being taken advantage of yourself – you’ll want to SWAP.  No, I don’t mean exchange the things you bought earlier … I mean Shop ­With ­A Plan. Get it?   S. W. A. P.

Female DNA seems to resonate with red markdown ink and render us temporarily insane.  So before you head out into “Extra 30% off Already Reduced Prices” and “Doorbuster Specials Before Noon”, review these strategies for sale shopping success.

#1 – Inventory your closet ( drawers, laundry basket).   Do favorite items need to be replaced or supplemented?   If you wear your navy pants all the time, for example, a navy skirt could make additional outfits with all the same tops.  And consider stock-piling a bargain back-up pair of navy pants (or other key basics) for when the current ones wear out.

#2 – List NEEDS in writing, organized in 3 categories:
A – Basics that need replacing  – especially bottoms in your Key Neutrals.
B –  Missing mixers – identify these by specific description or by end use.  (“red turtleneck” OR “top for gray tweed suit”).  Can one item fill several wardrobe gaps?
C – Awkward occasions –  times you’ve said “I have nothing to wear”: a work presentation  … an evening at the symphony…

#3 – Shop UP a notch. This is the time to move up the quality ladder without busting the budget.  If you usually shop at discount stores, try Macy’s.  If department stores are your usual, check out Saks or Neimans.  A higher price-point can be a big leap of faith, so don’t miss this chance to get used to better quality at bargain prices.

#4 – Be retail savvy.  Shop at off-peak hours; avoid weekends if possible. Department stores often activate new markdowns in the computer system on Friday afternoon before the office staff goes home, so your can find them in the stores ahead of the Saturday rush.  Check mail/email/online for extra-discount coupons .  Take along items you need to match – it’s easier than returning things later.

#5 –Scan those massive clearance racks for color first.  Don’t even glance at an item that’s not one of your best colors.  And if you’re not absolutely certain about what colors you should be wearing, put a professional color consultation at the top of your shopping list.  NOTHING goes further toward building a truly great wardrobe – I guarantee it.

#6 –Be size-savvy. Dropping a few vacation pounds may give you  wiggle room  but it’s not likely to take you down a whole size.  A “bargain” you can’t fit into is just wasted dollars (don’t ask how I know this) and squeezing into it will make you look and feel fat.  Just say NO.

#7 – Do an at-home fashion show with your bargains to confirm that new additions work with things you already own.  Double-check for any needed alterations.  Correcting sleeve or hem length or changing boring buttons can make the difference between passable and panache.  And keep tags and receipts so you can retract any irrational purchase decisions.

REMEMBER: Clearance selections are hit-and-miss; better to go home empty-handed than buy things you don’t need just for the rush of a bargain.

About Nancy Nix Rice

I help other women feel confident about how they look every day - regardless of their age, budget, lifestyle or the size tag in their pants - so they put wardrobe concerns on the back burner and go share their gifts with the world.


  1. Jeannine on August 28, 2015 at 12:18 am

    Thank you for the clarification on body type! This helps all of us make our best choices so we can look our absolute best:) You Rock, keep those awesome articles coming!

    • Nancy Nix Rice on August 28, 2015 at 1:57 am

      Thanks for the nice comment Jeannine. Lots more coming soon on dressing to show your body in its best light. We are all lovely, but so often we get hung up on minor imperfections and fail to recognize our true beauty.

  2. Tina on August 29, 2015 at 2:53 pm

    #5 saves me tons of time when shopping!

    • Nancy Nix Rice on August 31, 2015 at 2:10 am

      Thanks for validating that point Tina. When I shop with a client she will inevitably say that we accomplished in a few hours what would have taken her days … and it’s largely because of using color as the first “filter” to determine what we’ll try on. If the color isn’t optimal the outfit can never be more than so-so. PLUS when all the pieces in her closet are in her best color range they all go together in a thousand – often unexpected – ways.

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