When it comes to seasonal shopping I find many women are savvy fall/winter shoppers, and less than savvy spring/summer shoppers. Part of the reason for that is the mental attitude around the items themselves.
When we think fall/winter clothing, the following terms may float to the top: rich colors, luxurious fabrics, staples and classic investment pieces. However when we think of spring/summer clothing, the following less than admirable terms float to the top: trendy, flimsy, disposable, on sale and the dreaded – I will probably only wear it one or two summers.
Having that mindset translates into having that shopping protocol. Take anywhere in America today – women are shopping at the sale rack first and foremost and they are shopping for halters, maxi skirts, white capri pants and inexpensive colorful sandals. What they don’t realize is that they are playing right into the hands of the retailers as this is their dream customer – someone who doesn’t mind stocking up on ‘disposable’ clothing.
Having spent decades in the industry as a designer of private label, a buyer of ready-to-wear and a manager of multiple stores across the country, I am here to share the inside scoop.
You would think that retailers would love to sell the $100 blouse and make that $50 profit on you but chances are they will only sell 10 of those – racking up a mere $500 in profit because the number of women who will plunk down $100 on a summer blouse is small.
Here’s the real story. They would prefer to sell you the $10 blouse where they are no doubt making $7 in profit because they manufactured it by the thousands overseas in 10 colors. In that same store they would no doubt sell 1000 pieces at the $10 price-point (because of course you are going to buy multiple colors) reaping in $7000. Plus there is the added bonus of them knowing that that top is only going to last one or two years bringing you right back into the store to repeat the whole process.
Now I know there are doubters out there, of this conspiracy theory, but before you judge, take a look in your closet and tell me you don’t find something that you bought in multiple colors because of the price incentive! By the way, that habit leads to looking the same day in and day out, rinse and repeat dressing. Not such a good look especially in this age of digital photos – is that a photo of you in 2016 or 1986?
Let’s talk about how to change up your seasonal shopping habits.
- Create an annual budget, break it down by season and then break it down by category. Let’s say your annual clothing budget is $1000 (and btw that needs to include dry cleaning, tailoring and the cobbler). Then break it down by season, say $600 for fall/winter and $400 for spring/summer. Then take those numbers and break it down by category – jackets, pants, skirts, dresses, tops, sweaters or shoes. Make a list of what you need to add or replace and then shop by price for exactly what you want as opposed to walking in the store and falling victim to the $10 top that you are now going to buy in 3 colors, ultimately spending a whopping $30 which could have just bought you a quality pair of sandals that might last multiple seasons!
- Consider focusing on either work or casual when you create your budget. Remember you do live two separate lives – don’t blow the budget on summer frivolity if you need a new pair of work shoes. And remember quality trumps quantity.
- Shop for crossover clothing. Long gone will be the day when you wear your clothing out if you start shopping for quality, so consider items that do double duty. This week I picked up this Truth & Pride tweed blazer at Nordstrom at 40% off. I will wear this casually with a black T and dark wash jeans but will also wear it as professional attire over a black dress, or with black pants and a cream blouse. That is called getting your cost-per-wear down! Plus you usually see different peeps at work and at play, so why not make your clothing budget pull double-duty!
- Special occasion dressing needs to work for more than one occasion especially if you want to justify a higher price point. I am currently working virtually with three mothers of the bride clients in Texas, Baltimore and Chicago and I want them to look smashing, memorable and confident. I want them to love their look in their photos for years to come so the most important thing is finding the dress that serves them authentically. However with each conversation we have, we talk about the possibility of that dress having an afterlife. If not in it’s current form, but perhaps being shortened in length or accessorized differently to give it a different feel. Again there may be those of you naysayers thinking, ridiculous, just buy the damn dress. To you I ask, “How many fancy dresses do you have in the dark section of your closet living in plastic bags?” Just trying to get you to shop with purpose Mildred!
- Then of course, if you are in need of something that you will probably never wear again, then rent it! Peruse through renttherunway.com – what’s better than a $3000 Marchesa gown rented at $100 bucks! Now that’s rockin’ the room!
In need of help creating a budget, navigating your shopping experience or getting dressed for a special occasion? Perhaps you just need a seasonal update, a wardrobe tweak, a new look for your LinkedIn photo or a refresh for a job interview – the needs are endless! Check out the perfect solution and let’s get to work becoming a savvy seasonal shopper! The Style Debit Card Solution