How to shop sales like a BOSS!

o-CLOTHES-SHOPPING-facebook-1

lady browsing through a clothes rail of dresses

It’s summer clearance sales time, and I know you are rubbing your hands together in eager anticipation of all the great deals you are going to find.  I know the routine, you plan your shopping day, pack your tote, add some water, and off you go.  But when you get there, the sheer number of overcrowded, disorganized racks is daunting.  With clothes on the floor and draped over the racks, sales shopping has quickly become way too much work.  Does this sound like you?

Let me give you some tips and tricks to make sales shopping a little easier:

  1. Have a list:  When you head out with nothing in your brain except scoring on some cheap prices, you end up buying items that, while they may be cheap, really don’t fit in your wardrobe.  Just because it’s cheap, doesn’t mean you should buy it.  The most expensive items in your closet are the cheap ones that you never wear!
  2. Try everything on:  Take it from me, if it is on the sale rack, there is a reason.  The best items are there because they were just too expensive to begin with.  These are the real steals.  But many items are there because there was a fit issue. If you see 6 of one style on the sale rack, avoid it like the plague.  That is a true indication there is a problem with that style.  The best sales items will have only 1 or 2 left.
  3. Shop early: Get there first.  The best of the best sell right away.  Don’t wait until the racks have been decimated by all the shoppers before you go!
  4. Shop alone: Friends are awesome, but they are not always helpful when you are shopping.  We all have a bias towards what we like, and so often I see friends and family imposing their personal tastes on others to the detriment of the shopper.  Meet your friends or family for lunch after your shopping is finished and brag about all your great finds!
  5. Read your emails: I know, I know… I am bad about this too.  (I just love the gmail app that puts all the promo emails in a separate folder so I don’t have to see them!)  But, at the end of the day, your favorite stores communicate with you primarily via email.  If you want to get a jump on the sales, you have to read those emails.  As an example, all of the people on our email list are getting an email Thursday morning announcing our SECRET VIP PRE-CRAZY DAYS SALE!  If they aren’t engaged in email or on social media, they will miss out on this EPIC sale!
  6. Join the VIP Group:  Most stores will have a Facebook Group that is for their VIPs.  Most often, one of the perks of being in this group is early notification of sales.  As an example, our VIP’s were told about our SECRET VIP PRE-CRAZY DAYS SALE today.  They are the only group that gets this info early.  (If you are not a member, join here.)

Following these 6 tips should make sale shopping really beneficial to you and not overwhelming and exhausting.  It’s a great time to take advantage of discounted prices and round out your summer wardrobe.  If you are a sales shopper, be sure to join us for Crazy Days this Friday and Saturday!

10 Steps To Being A Smart Shopper

o-CLOTHES-SHOPPING-facebook-1

We love practical and easy, don’t we?  I don’t know about you, but I am drawn to “3 steps to do this” or “5 steps to do that books.”  Somehow, knowing there is a fairly short list of things I need to do in order to have the desired result feels, well, encouraging.  So, in the spirit of getting right down to it, here are my 10 simple steps to becoming a smart shopper.

Step 1: organize your closet.  Let me warn you right off the bat.  If you are looking for quick and easy, step 1 might seem a bit daunting.  If I’m being honest, it is totally OCD, but I am completely convinced it will make getting dressed in the morning so much easier.    First, go through your clothing and separate out everything you haven’t worn in a year.  Next, separate your tops, pants, skirts and dresses into different areas of your closet.  Then, separate your winter items from your summer items within each category.  At the end of this step, you should have all your tops together, all your winter pants together, all your summer pants together, and so forth.  Last, organize each section by color using the ROYGBIV acronym for the colors of the rainbow: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet.  Complete the rainbow by putting your greys and blacks after your purples and your whites and creams after that.  Now, go back to the items you removed in the beginning.  Put all your classic items like black blazers, white blouses and black pants back into your closet unless they are out of date.  Donate the rest.  Whew….sit down and rest a bit.

Why, you ask, did I have you go through that arduous process?  Because now you can clearly see what you have.  If you have 20 short sleeved shirts and only 2 long sleeved ones, you know you need to balance out your wardrobe a bit in this area.  If you have 8 hot pink tops and no neutrals, you may want to shop for some great basics that will work with more things in your closet.  Make sense?

This leads us to step 2: make a shopping list.  Once you know what you need to shop for, write it down on a list that you keep with you all the time.  Shopping trips happen at unexpected times while you are waiting for an appointment or when you have a few extra minutes.  Keep that list with you so that no matter when you shop, you can check it and stay focused on what you need rather than wandering aimlessly through the store waiting for something to catch your eye.

Step 3: shop with a color palate.  This step also requires some work, but not to worry, I have a handy video that will give you a great start.  Shopping with a color palate will focus your shopping in amazing ways.  It will help you say “no” to items that you love but are in a color that is not flattering on your skin.  It will also help you have the confidence that when you get that item home, it will go with something else in your closet, including your accessories like purses and coats.

Step 4: know when the best sales happen at your favorite boutique or store.  For most of the industry, January and February are sales months for winter and July and August are sales months for summer.  Early markdowns happen in December and June as well.  Start checking back frequently in late December and late June to get the first chance at the best items.  If you wait to the end of the sale season, most of the great buys will be very picked over.

Step 5: use the store perks.  If your favorite stores have a layaway program with no fees, this is a great way to shop early in the sale season and put the items on layaway so you can pay for them a little at a time.  Does your store of choice have a rewards or loyalty program?  Make sure you are utilizing it and maximizing your shopping budget.

Step 6: shop for quality and not quantity.  Nothing is a great deal if you never wear it!  Don’t buy just because it is on sale.  In fact, when you consider the cost per wear of an item, in many cases you are better off to spend more on something that is higher quality and will last longer than less on something that is poor quality and will fall apart.  Check out my blog about cost per wear to learn more on this topic.  To determine quality, look at the button holes; they should be bound and not raw with clean edges and no hanging strings.  Next, examine the seams; they should lay flat with no ripples or bumps.  Then, look at the stitching; good quality items have 8-12 stitches per inch.  If the item is patterned, look at where the pattern comes together at the seam.  Does it match or is it askew?  The higher quality items will match the pattern all the way around the garment.  Last, look at the hems; a quality hem will be double stitched and will not be visible from the outside of the garment.

Step 7: shop alone.  I know, I know….you’re thinking that you need that teenage daughter or friend to tell you the truth about how something looks.  Who can trust a sales associate, right?  Well, speaking from personal experience, you can trust a good sales associate, especially one you have built a relationship with and who knows you and what styles and brands you like.  The problem with your teenage daughter or friend is that oftentimes their advice to you is based upon what they feel is a good style for them.  It is difficult for most of us to disassociate what we feel is stylish for what actually looks good on someone.  This is where a professional comes in who has been trained how to help you shop.  At the end of the day, you are the one who has to wear what you take home.  Shouldn’t you be the one to decide if it’s right or wrong?

Step 8: buy a complete outfit rather than pieces.  Nothing is worse than buying something amazing at the store only to discover that you have absolutely nothing to wear it with when you get home.  Worse yet are the various orphans in your closet that you were sure would match that pair of pants but didn’t and so just hang there…waiting.  You can avoid this scenario by buying an entire outfit from the start, including the accessories needed to complete it.  After all, good dressing isn’t just about the top and bottom you are wearing; it is about the complete look with the appropriate shoes, accessories, handbag and coat.  Not sure you agree with me?  Have you ever seen someone put a Columbia parka over a dress?  Sadly, I have.

Step 9: focus on building your basics first and then add the trends.  Make sure you have the bones of a good wardrobe – one or two pairs of black pants, a black blazer, a black skirt, and several nice blouses or tops that can work back with all of your basic bottoms.  Then begin adding other neutrals like browns and navy, all according to your color palate.  Make sure you have a nice casual coat and a nice dress coat.  Be sure you have shoes that coordinate with your wardrobe and are appropriate for dressing up or work.  Once you have this foundation, you can start spending money on trends like cold shoulder tops, embroidered bottoms, and the like.

And finally, step 10: don’t wait for sales to get your workhorse pieces.  There are items in your closet that wear out the fastest because you wear them the most.  Your basic black items are usually among these.  Don’t settle for less than wonderful on your workhorse items.  These are the things you splurge on to get the absolute best quality you can afford.  At the end of the day, quality = longevity.  The better quality fabrics and workmanship of higher priced items will hold up in the washing machine and will with stand wear much better than cheaper items.  Spend your money where it counts.  For these pieces shop in the prime season so you get the best selection of sizes and the most choices.  This means shopping in March and April for summer items and September and October for winter items.

Better Together – Jewelry and Friends

I’m loving the layering trend with jewelry right now. We have just picked up two new jewelry lines for Fashion Crossroads that have made this an art form.

Zacasha necklaces combine delicate crystals and beads with colorful tassels and charms.  I was blessed to get to meet the designer of Zacasha at market just a few months ago. Indeed, this is one of my favorite things about attending market in Las Vegas at the Magic Apparel Show. It is not uncommon to have the designer help you buy the line.  In her decidedly French way, and using lots of hand gestures, Jennifer Belcourt recalled the story of how she came up with the line and how it has grown over the years.  After having traveled throughout Asia, she settled in Bali.  She used the traditional Balinese tassel necklace as her inspiration and began to mix techniques and materials from the various islands she had visited. and example of this is described on her website: “The island of Madura’s specialty, is necklaces with tiny knotting between each bead. Using this technique Jennifer designed necklaces made of crystals, Mala beads, fresh water pearls from the island of Lombok and lava stone beads from the volcanoes of Mt Batur in Bali and Mt Semeru in Java”(http://www.zacasha.com/#!our-story/cast).  Her necklaces symbolize good luck, peace and respect for the planet.

I am always amazed with someone who can take an idea and turn it into a company. I am always heartened, when that person is a woman!  As a buyer, I am always attracted to companies that support impoverished areas in the manufacture of their product.  Jennifer’s necklaces are not made in factories but by Indonesian artisans who traditionally work from their home and in this way provide for their families.

IMG_1529                 IMG_1548

Zacasha is a tassel necklace line designed to be layered.  Indeed, the more you add together, the better they look.  They are perfectly designed to wear with today’s tunic style tops and blouses and a whole lot of fun.  Be careful, however, you just might catch yourself playing with the tassels in an absent minded moment.  They are quite soft!

Another new line that is also designed to be layered is Bourbon and Boweties.  These beautiful bracelets use semi precious stones as well as agates, lava stones, polished coral, and many others.  The stones are wrapped in gold plated wire for a artistic and unique look.  Each bracelet is as distinctive as the stones in the design.  Like Zacasha necklaces, these bracelets look better together. Bourbon and Bowetie bracelets are hand made by proud southern ladies!

IMG_1531                                IMG_1532

And you know, that makes me think….we women are better together too.  So, when you embrace this jewelry trend this season, let it remind you to appreciate your girl friends and how each of you is unique and yet even more beautiful together.

Key Color for Fall- Oxblood

I don’t know what it is this season, but I just can’t seem to buy enough new pieces in oxblood. It is a wonderful, rich, deep blood red color that sounds just like it looks. I couldn’t resist these great riding boots from Yellowbox when I saw them at market.  I could just imagine them with black or chocolate brown leggings paired with a great top or accessory in the same color.  They were one of the first purchases I made this season.  Then we received oxblood fleece leggings from Foot Traffic and this beautiful sweater jacket from Elan.  You could pair all three and have a distinctive look.

Yellowbox Oxblood Boots

Yellowbox Oxblood Boots

 

Maybe I like it so much because Oxblood pairs beautifully with cream and dark brown as well as black.  But for the more adventurous, it also looks great with grey, pink and turquoise.  Yes, I said turquoise.  If you doubt me, check out the great necklace that came in from Ethyl and Myrtle this week.  You have to admit that the two colors look pretty good together!

Ethyl and Myrtle native inspired necklace

Ethyl and Myrtle native inspired necklace

Another aspect of oxblood that appeals to me is that it has the energy of red without being flashy and the depth of a jewel tone without all the punch.  You can wear it as a lip color, for example, without feeling too garish.  It also looks great on toes and nails.  Indeed, it is as good as a stand alone as it is an accent.  Use the color in a scarf, purse or shoe to liven up any outfit and instantly make it hip and in sync with this season’s trends.

My advise to you is start keeping an eye out for oxblood in all sorts of fashion finds this season and invest in a piece or two.  You just might find, as I have, it is your new favorite color!

Elan Sweater Jacket

Elan Sweater Jacket  

Want more trend info?  Check out our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/FashionCrossroads or our Twitter page at https://twitter.com/FashCrossroads.  As always, you can find more about our stores on our website at www.fashioncrossroadsinc.com 

 

Wyoming Wearable Fall Fashion Trends

As always, fall beckons us with cooler nights and mornings and the occasional snow storm.  If you haven’t geared up for it yet, rest assured, that cold weather is coming.  The tunic and legging combo or skinny jean and long sweater are still key trends for this season.  Wear them with boots, and you’ll be ready for the snow to fly.  Dresses and mini skirts can be worn with tights for a warmer option this year, keeping the look on trend.  But in case you wanted to add a few new trends to your wardrobe, here is brief overview.

 

Heavy Knits

I am probably the most excited about the return of heavier knits this season.  We saw some push back against chunky, heavy sweaters last season so all of the sweaters we had in the store were light weight.  They were great for layering but not so good for warmth.  This year, chunky is back.  And, let’s face it, if we have another winter like last year….we will be glad.  You can make chunkier knits work by pairing them with smooth fabrics.  A thick turtle neck, for example, looks great with a smooth pencil skirt and tights.

Scottish-Moors-Cardigan-Stricking-Teal-Multi-10195O-5748-Cami-Stricking-Teal-10012O-5706-Pant-Stricking-Teal-10391O-5933-213x320

Tribal Sportswear

Fur Embellishments

Fur will again be playing a big role as an accent on vests, coats and sweaters.  This is good for us because faux fur has been very popular for several seasons, especially in vests.  The good news is your faux fur is still in style and you’ll be seeing more.

50’s and 60’s Glam and Mod

If like me, your fashion icons are Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn, then you will love the feminine, tailored silouettes this year.  You don’t need to don your gloves and cinch your waist, but you can definitely relish in the shift dress and boots as well as the coat dress with the defined waist.  Juxtaposed to this are the highly geometric prints that characterize the mod trend this season.  Fancy a funky, bright print?  This trend is for you.

Scottish-Moors-Jacket-Black-10362O-5980-with-Dress-Black-10341O-5980-pic-2

Tribal Sportswear

90’s Rocker

With all the moto jackets and shoe boots with buckles out there this season, it is not surprise that the rockers from the 80’s and 90’s are feeling right at home this season.  Use these pieces as accents and sparingly, or you might just look like a throw back.  Still, its fun to channel our inner rocker every now and then, right?

Soft Pastels

Winter white, ice blue, petal pink….are winter colors this year.  Whether its a petal pink belted wool coat or a wool suit, these colors are a surprising twist in our palate this season.

Animal

The fashion gurus keep touting “Animal is back.”  I’m wondering when it left?  I’ve seen animal prints take a strong role in fall fashion for several seasons.  But, just in case you need to hear it…animal is back.

Simply-Sumptuous-Jacket-Cream-10403O-6011-Top-H-Grey-10308O-5990-Pant-H-Saddle-Brown-10272O-5798H-213x320

Tribal Sportswear

Need some more inspiration, come in a browse through our beautiful new fall collections!  You’ll love what you see.

Don’t Put Too Much Stock in Your Friend’s Fashion Advice.

I know that shopping is more fun with friends!  It is for me too, but choose your shopping friends carefully.  I can't tell you how many times I have seen a customer not get something that she really liked and looked good in because her "friend" told her not to buy it.  Worst of all, I have often suspected that the reason behind the friend's advice was more about her than what was really good for the friend she was advising.  Here's the thing – clothing is extremely personal.  It is an expression of who we are as people – our personalities, our jobs, our lifestyles.  What you need is often times not what your friend needs.  What styles and colors that look good on you may not be the same styles and colors your friend likes.  What you are willing to spend on clothing may be more or less than what your friend is willing to spend. 

I know it's scary to trust a sales person's opinion; there is always a fear that he or she will tell you it looks good just to make the sale.  I'm sure there are those who do that.  However, if you find a great store with a great sales person that will give you an honest opinion, in many ways they are better able to be objective than a friend might be.  This is because they have no pre-conceived opinion of you.  They will likely suggest things that might get you outside of your box because they aren't automatically rejecting things based upon what you usually wear.  If they are worth their salt as a sales person, they will realize that it is far more important to help you pick fabulous things and have you come back than to make a one time sale. 

If you find you just can't put your faith in a stranger, then take my advice and choose your shopping partner wisely.  Will they be able to tell you what looks good on you and leave their personal tastes out of it?  Will they not judge you if you spend more or less than they do on clothing?  Is their motivation truely to be a help to you or do they enjoy feeling like "the expert?"  When you listen to them, do you get compliments from others on how you look?  These are just some of the questions you might consider asking yourself before you go on your next shopping date with your friends.  Happy shopping!