In less than two weeks I will depart for the most awesome of vacations – a cruise with my husband and four of my closest girlfriends. I couldn't be more excited, and I'm in full vacation countdown mode. As I started making a mental packing checklist, I realized I needed a few pairs of shorts and sundresses for the trip – and where do I go when I need additions for my wardrobe? The clearance aisle of course! Although I've shopped almost entirely in the clearance section for most of my adult life, I developed a new clearance strategy only a few months ago. For some of you this may not represent the “Aha! Moment” that it did for me, but I found it to be pretty revolutionary to my shopping experience.
First off – I don't have a ton of time to shop. If I do get to the store it's either on my lunch break or late evening when I'm exhausted from work. Digging through disheveled racks of disorganized clearance items is not my idea of a great way to unwind. Besides, I hover around the lower ends of the plus-size spectrum, and my size is usually pretty picked over by the time I get there. I tend to leave empty handed and feeling frustrated, gross, and down about myself. But why should shopping make me feel bad – especially when I'm getting a great deal?
The truth is, it shouldn't. Recently while doing some Christmas shopping online I noticed that some of my favorite stores feature their womens' clothing clearance sales online. I discovered that you can find everything from the tornado of an in-store clearance aisle, and much more. You don't have to sift through piles of clothes, and everything is organized by size – and even by price! My favorite stores to do online clearance shopping at are Target and Jcpenney. On the websites for both of these stores you can sort by the type of clothing you are looking for (i.e.- skirts, slacks, flats, sandals, dresses, pumps, shirts, sweaters, boots, etc). Once you have narrowed down what you are looking for you can select for your potential purchases to be sorted by cost (lowest to highest). Doing this, I've been able to find some awesome new dresses, pants, and sweaters for under $10.00. I even got a nice pair of sandals for under $2.00!
Price is definitely a positive of shopping using this method, but for me, the best perk is selection. I have had no problem finding items in my size, and in the color I want. It is so annoying to find a super-cute ensemble only to discover that the store doesn't have it in my size. Online, I rarely run into that problem, and I can avoid paying anything remotely close to full-price, which I HATE doing.
An unexpected side effect of this method is that I no longer buy things that sit in my closet unworn. I find that faced with the pressure of selecting an item in a store dressing room, I often brought home clothes that I later realized didn't fit properly, or where in a color I really couldn't work into my wardrobe. They'd get worn once or twice...or worse – never. What a royal waste of money! I find myself being much more picky with my clearance purchases now that I have a wider selection, and I know that I can always check back a few weeks later if I don't find something I love.
When I find a much anticipated package on my doorstep I quickly try on my purchases in the comfort of my own home. This is especially helpful because I can try things on with the slacks, tights, shapewear, etc that I would actually be wearing the item with. This lets me make a more informed decision on whether the item is worth keeping or not. If it doesn't meet the cut, no big deal. I simply return the item to a physical store location, no questions asked. I make sure to only buy apparel from stores that I live or work near so that I can make returns without driving too far. To be honest, I've gotten pretty familiar with what is flattering on me through this process, so I rarely have to return items.
Obviously, because my trip is coming up, I have to buy clothes now in order to ensure on-time shipping. In all other cases, however, I wait for good deals to pop up - particularly deals on free shipping. There are some stores (Jcpenney and Lane Bryant to name a few) which always allow you to have your items shipped to a physical retaillocation with little to no shipping costs. I've used this option too, and found it very convenient. Of course, I work in an office next to a mall, so it's a little unfair for me to comment on convenience. I also always use Ebates to make my purchases which guarantees me cash back - an added bonus.
So maybe shopping online clearance sales is nothing new or novel for you; but for me – it's been a great discovery. Never again will I stand in a smelly, cramped dressing room agonizing over the question “to buy or not to buy”. I have to say, I don't miss it at all.
Do you prefer online or brick-and-mortar store shopping?
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