Thursday, July 17, 2008

Good Shopping Advice from Teri Agins (WSJ)

Style: Ask Teri
By Teri Agins
17 July 2008
The Wall Street Journal
(Copyright (c) 2008, Dow Jones & Company, Inc.)

[Fashion reporter Teri Agins answers readers' questions]
Q: Before the weather even got warm this spring, a lot of department stores were already putting spring clothes on sale for 40% off. I just went to the mall and saw signs for prefall sales. Summer clothes just went on sale. What is going on?
-- M.J., Evanston, Ill.

A: Retailers today work to turn over their inventory as often as possible. Long gone is the era when stores received only a couple of big seasonal deliveries. Now, most stores get fresh merchandise monthly -- or as often as weekly at some fast-fashion chains. Frequent deliveries keep the stores looking fresh and inspire shoppers -- led by the trendiest -- to get into the habit of shopping early and often for the latest novelties.
Compounding the seasonal confusion, high-end designers now aggressively market "pre-collections," such as the fall items that are now in stores, well in advance of each season. In addition, stores may offer "special purchase" and "special value" items that are depicted as deals but were never really marked down.
Retailers typically start marking down goods after nine weeks on the sales floor -- or sooner when retail traffic is sluggish or when they have very unpopular items to clear out. Now that sales are slow, vigilant, frequent shoppers can find better bargains earlier than usual.
To navigate the store floors, develop a deft strategy. Wait it out for the markdowns, if you must, but make exceptions for exceptional finds. Right after July 4, I bit the bullet and paid full price for a distinctive fall dress that fit perfectly.
Contrary to myth, the best-dressed people typically don't have closets bursting with clothes; they have smaller, exquisite wardrobes of carefully picked items. After years of buying too many middling markdowns that I never wore, I now buy far less. Most of the time, I walk away from the markdown rack empty-handed. I buy only what I adore, no matter how cheap it is.
To temper your impulses, don't remove tags on new clothes until you've given them another audition in front of the mirror at home. If the merchandise doesn't pass muster, take it back.
Email questions to

No comments: