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Today’s informative article is written by Nicolas Richard of Kinowear. This time, he’ll be helping you find a deal when you’re shopping for your next piece of clothing.
Take it away, Nicolas!
We’ve all been there: payday isn’t due for another two weeks, your rent is getting on top of you, gas prices have shot up.
For the modern man, money can be an issue, yet your style doesn’t have to suffer if you’re a bit short on cash.
Looking good doesn’t mean you have to spend $700 on an outfit – some of the best buys can be found in vintage market stalls and second hand charity shops.
In this article, we’re going to take a look at our top options – both in-person and online – for finding decent yet inexpensive items that will make you look good and complement your existing wardrobe.
If you don’t fully find what you’re looking for in this article, we’ve written another article on how to look designer for less.
In Real Life, Away From The Keyboard
Sales don’t have to be an awful experience from which you emerge with a heap of clothes that don’t fit you and you wouldn’t wear anyway. Admit it, we all panic buy sometimes. However, sales do require a little effort, and not just on the day you set aside to grab those bargains; preparation is key.
Knowledge is your friend when it comes to sales; pluck up the courage to ask the salespeople what items will be on sale and for how much.
Not only will this give you the chance to budget, it’ll mean you can try the clothes on before the sales and not hang around when it comes to purchasing the day of. If you’re feeling even more brave, why not ask them if they can put a few things to one side for you?
And don’t forget, all of this will be pointless if you don’t bother writing it down – make a note of your items and the day they’ll be on sale!
On the day of the sale, if you’re well-prepared then it should be pretty stress free. Tackling the shops in the best order is crucial if you want to make the most of your day: go to department stores as soon as possible in the morning, else you’ll find that all of the good things are gone.
After that, go for the smaller, more specialized stores and boutiques.
Don’t worry about ready-to-wear chain stores so much, because there’s normally a lot on offer and it won’t run out so quickly. They often bring out new lines during the sales, too.
Finally, trying on still matters, so plan ahead! Wear clothes that are comfortable, that you can slip out of easily and it’ll be hassle-free, even if you have to queue a bit for the fitting rooms.
Of course, huge sales like Black Friday require special attention. For tips on how to survive the D-Day of the shopping world, read our article shopping during Black Friday for men.
However, regular public sales in-store aren’t the only things you should be considering…
VIP and Press Sales
Special access sales are brilliant when it comes to grabbing yourself an absolute bargain.
They’re events that happen before the public sales, where high-end brands allow lucky customers and selected press to have a look at the products which will go on sale – it’s an opportunity to get yourself the best items before anyone else. But how do you get the inside scoop?
There are always ways and means, but an easy way to start is to ‘like’ the Facebook pages and subscribe to the newsletter of the designers and shops that you really like. You’ll be kept in the loop about what’s going on well in advance and might get an invitation to one of these special events.
Stick with forums and websites because they’ll keep you well informed as to what’s happening, and look out for the opportunity to receive an invitation. You can even be a lot bolder by going into your favorite boutique and asking them if there’s going to be a private sale this year – what have you got to lose?
These happen when the stores weren’t able to move all of their goods, it’s that simple.
It’s often the case that people didn’t want to buy these products, so there doesn’t tend to be a lot of interesting items, but you can still find yourself a brilliant deal if you look hard enough.
They can be a bit daunting for a beginner, especially when the stores are filled to the brim with clothes (and people on the lookout for a bargain), but persevere and you might find yourself in luck.
For many people, the concept of a thrift store carries connotations of moms and grandmas shopping for second hand pots and pans; this couldn’t be any further away from the truth.
If you’re willing to have a good rummage, you can find a whole range of cool and inexpensive items: blazers, leather and denim jackets, sometimes shoes and sneakers, and loads of vintage accessories.
You can often find something that looks similar and has the same quality as what you could find in store, and heavily discounted from the recommended retail price. It’s difficult to understand why anyone would want to shop exclusively in regular outlets.
The downside is that you do have to search a lot to find some real gems.
Tip: browse fast through the items, look only at items your size, you should be able to tell from the hanger. If it fits, look for stains and quality (is it wool, is it part polyester), in order to be sure what you buy is worth the price.
Definitely try to haggle the price! Remember that the key is to find a beautiful item that looks like it hasn’t come from a thrift store!
Online Bargain Shopping
Online shopping seems to be the way of the future: you can search to your heart’s content from the comfort of your own home and get your clothes delivered to you with the click of a button.
Some people prefer to do all their shopping online simply due to the practicality of it and the avoidance of busy crowds in hectic shopping malls. However, the downside to this method of shopping is that you’re completely unable to try the clothes before you buy them and often people find it difficult to judge color, cut, sizing etc, which is a major setback.
Nonetheless, this definitely should not put you off completely, because there are a few hints and tips that we can give you to make the most of this convenient means of purchasing.
Firstly, if you see something on the Internet that you really like, what’s stopping you from going into a store and trying on the same item? If you know you can buy it for less online, try it on, know what size you’re after and you’re onto a winner.
Granted, you can’t always try them in stores, so make sure you’re buying from an online shop with a good returns policy: you’re going to be pretty cheesed off if you buy something and you can’t get your money back easily when it turns out to be the wrong size.
Google, as always, is your friend when it comes to online shopping. For big brands, promo codes are out there all of the time, so it’s always worth having a quick look for them before you make your way to the checkout: a 20% discount is worth the two minutes you’ll spend looking for a code.
Online Men’s Fashion Forums
In my opinion, men’s fashion forum topics are the best way to find a bargain.
Members of forums such as superfuture.com, stylezeitgeist.com, hypebeast.com, styleforum.net, and solecollector.com often sell high-quality clothes at a deep discount, and for various reasons: “Not my style anymore,” “This wasn’t my size,” “I need money now.”
You’ll be able to ask about sizing, practicality (e.g. “Is this cashmere coat hot enough for winter?”), and even negotiate the price. Still, follow the rules of these communities: write a short presentation of yourself before posting, socialize with people, and don’t give your opinion if you don’t know what you’re talking about.
eBay is the world’s largest online auction site with 200 million members, offering you a huge range of different products from all over the world.
Despite the stereotype, eBay doesn’t just sell second-hand goods: the majority of members hold their own online e-boutiques through the site, so you get a cross-section of new, unused and second-hand products with varying prices.
This is great news for those of you who don’t necessarily have the funds to splash out a couple of hundred dollars on that pair of shoes you’ve been wanting for months, but can most definitely afford a second-hand pair or even new (if you’re lucky) for half the price.
For example: Shoes like Alden, which are crafted in a manner that makes them easy to resole, can be up to $500 new. Instead, get a gently-used pair on eBay for closer to $100, take them to your cobbler to be resoled, and you’re good to go in a great pair of shoes for a much more affordable price.
Also, you can take comfort in knowing that there’s a safe system for processing funds, but be equally aware that counterfeit sellers do exist, so watch out for fake brands and labels! If you’re not sure on how to decide whether something is fake or not, follow this quick guide:
- Know what you’re buying. If you’re looking for a cheap pair of designer shoes, do your research. Get to know the item beforehand, examine the genuine product and its identifying marks, nature of the logos, stitching details and craftsmanship. Then, look online and compare to the items being sold on eBay.
- Ask questions. Reputable sellers will be more than happy to answer any questions posed by potential buyers. Demand extra photos, product information and proof of purchase. If there is reluctance to cooperate, alarm bells should start ringing.
- If it looks too good to be true, it probably is. If a pair of shoes normally being sold at $500 is going for $75 online, you should probably question it with raised eyebrows. eBay sellers are trying to make money too, they’re not charity! Unless the seller can provide a solid reason as to why it is so cheap, avoid avoid avoid.
- The sense of community on eBay certainly exists, so much so that you can chat to other buyers and sellers, and read feedback on a seller from previous buyers. Look at their selling history: if the trader has only ever sold concert tickets and then is suddenly selling a pair of shoes represented by a Google image photo, you shouldn’t be parting with your cash.
On a more positive note, you can use curation websites to look at the very best of what eBay has to offer, on a more specific platform to your needs.
With over 10 million items being sold on eBay at one given time, it’s nice to have a bit of direction. Here, you’ll be able to find plenty of good examples of the kind of things you can find, and at what price.
Gilt (and other flash sale sites)
Flash sale sites are fast becoming more and more popular for money-conscious shoppers. These sales are open for a short period of twenty four to thirty six hours, creating a highly exclusive and sought-after marketplace.
Here, shoppers enjoy the thrill of shopping under a time limit, surrounded by high-end luxury brands readily available to them. These “members only” sites are not open to the public, thus creating a crème de la crème reputation amongst the fashion-conscious. These sites go hand in hand with social networking, where potential customers who are interested receive notifications giving them information on who, what and where.
Be intelligent when shopping: for some, the time restrictions can act as an adrenaline boost, causing many people to purchase items they don’t necessarily need, that often are non-refundable.
Before you click purchase, make sure you that you read in full whether or not you can return it if it doesn’t fit (remember a photo on a website can be manipulated, so if you’re not 100%, don’t go for it.) Ask yourself if you would still buy the item at its full price; it’s easy to be convinced to part with your money if something is cheap.
Among the most popular of flash sale sites is Gilt, an online designer market, which offers members instant insider access to top designer labels, often up to 60% below the retail price. Simply sign up with an active email address and you’re able to access great discounts from major brands.
(Editor’s Note: There are a few other flash sale sites similar to Gilt, which include MYHABIT, HauteLook, JackThreads, and others. See here for EG’s recommendations.)
But why is it so cheap? As fashion and apparel brands felt the impact of the global recession, wholesale inventories rapidly became stagnated as retailers drastically reduced product assortments and orders.
As a consequence, many brands were forced to liquidate excess inventory, thus Gilt was born, providing an efficient and brand-sensitive way to take on excess inventory and enjoy explosive growth in the process; as explained by The Business Of Fashion.
In short, Gilt sells “luxury leftovers”, and on their website you will ultimately find old season produce. You won’t find brand, spanking new products here which is a downside, however you will get a nice range of designer wear for a lot less cheaper than if you were to buy it in the shops.
Nowadays, technology expands at such a rapid pace, there are new gadgets and applications constantly being invented to make our lives a little bit easier.
If you’re the kind of guy that is constantly on the go, and has to dedicate specific slots to go clothes shopping when you eventually do get the time to concentrate, smartphone applications are readily available to help you research and do your homework when you’re pushed for time.
Most big brands and shops have their own applications for phones and tablets, so even if you don’t want to shop online, have a scroll through these apps when you’re on the subway or on your lunch break and do a bit of research beforehand, so that when you do come to parting with your cash, you already have in mind what you want. Plus, you can do it on the go!
(Editor’s Note: Though still quite new, I’m enjoying playing with the Dapper app on my iPhone, and I expect it’ll only get better.)
A Quick Sum-Up
I hope you’ve gained a little faith when thinking about shopping on a budget without wasting money, and actually finding items that you love and that complement your wardrobe nicely.
Remember, shopping for less doesn’t mean you have to compromise! Just be intelligent with your decisions, be prepared, and don’t be tempted by that $5 shirt that you just feel “okay” about. Make sure to love what you buy!