Have you noticed that no matter what store you shop in there are sale signs everywhere? For those of us who love shopping for a bargain, this can be misleading and downright sneaky.


Some of this merchandise is really marked down but some stores know that women are driven to sales racks. If you aren’t careful you could end up with a closet full of stuff just because it was on sale. I know I am driven to the sale rack; I stop there first. Ladies, here is some advice from a New York City-based image consultant, Marla Tomazin.

She says it’s time to break the buy it because it’s a bargain cycle. OMG she is talking to me. Tomazin says we must change our purchasing criteria: buy items because they are right for you, not because they are marked down. She recommends six tips before you hit the sale rack.

First, check out your closet. Re-familiarize yourself with your own wardrobe. “Before you hit the big sale, take stock of what you already own,” she says. Look at what is on every hanger, and in each drawer and shoebox. The purpose of this exercise is to remind yourself of what you have enough of and where the holes in your wardrobe are. Pay close attention to the items you rarely wear or have never worn at all. How many still have the tags on them?

Go in with a plan. Tomazin says, “in all honesty, how many black sweaters do you need? Even if you find an item that looks nice and is a good price, leave it on the rack if that area in your wardrobe is full.”

Use the buddy system. Make plans to browse the sale racks with an honest friend who knows you, your style and your wardrobe, and who won’t be too shy to say, “girl put that back.”

Ask a few questions. Ask yourself would you buy this item if it was at full price. Items are usually placed on clearance for a reason and a common one is color and fit. Make sure you try it on.

Put your purchases on hold. Take some time to clear your head after trying on all of those garments. Walk around the mall for a while, have a cup of coffee. Does the purchase still seem like a good idea when you go back or has the buzz faded?

Know the return policy. Sometimes it is hard to make an informed decision in a fitting room. You may want to try on the outfit with a favorite pair of shoes. Hold on to the receipt and make sure you read the receipt well, many receipts state what the last return date is. I have found myself shopping and finding that I already have the exact or very similar item at home. Often I need to shop to remind myself of how much I really do have. I’ll go in a store and see something and the light bulb will come on, “I have that somewhere at home.” The key is finding it. Just doing the laundry reveals a whole new wardrobe.

Tomazin says, “consider what fits and flatters you first and look at price second. It’s worth spending a little more for items you will wear again and again.”

(Email the columnist at deb­bie­norrell@aol.com.)

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