Wednesday, April 16, 2014

How To Shop Smart For Special Occasion Attire

Usually when we have an important event coming up such as a job interview, a class reunion, or a friend's wedding, we tend to want (or need) to buy something new for the event. However, most of us procrastinate and wait until the last minute to go shopping for a new outfit. This is one of the biggest and most costly mistakes people make when shopping.

Why? Because when we wait until the last minute, our options become very limited, and usually don't include as many bargains as they would if we had done a little planning or what I like to call "pre-shopping."

Pre-shopping is a strategic method of shopping that may at first seem like a time waster, but is actually a time saver, and more importantly, a money saver. 

You see, when you wait until the last minute to shop for a specific event, you usually have to go with the first thing you find that's appropriate, whether it's on sale or not, or whether you really like it or not. If it's not something you really like, you probably will never wear it again (a waste of money). Also, choosing something in a hurry may not end up being the most comfortable thing to wear. If you're uncomfortable or you don't feel confident in the outfit, your discomfort and insecurity will be what people notice, not your outfit (this can be very costly especially in a job interview)!

Pre-shopping prevents this from happening. Let's say you're planning to start a job search and will be sending out resumes in the hopes of lining up some job interviews. You already know (from my past blogs) that part of your preparation for the job interview includes researching the company. You should also use your research skills to find the best interview attire. Here's what you need to research:
  • Your budget. Determine what amount you realistically have to spend on an outfit.
  • Appropriate stores. Do a little research online to see which stores carry the type of outfit you need and at what price.
  • Schedule of sales. From the stores that have what you need at your particular price point, find out when they typically run sales or when their next sale is scheduled for the type of clothing you're seeking.
  • Store policies. Find out if the store offers free alterations with purchase (this is another reason why you need to plan must allow time for proper alterations so that your outfit looks its best on you.). Also, find out the store's return/exchange policies and if they will honor sales prices of items that go on sale within two weeks of your purchase (i.e. if you find something you love at retail price and purchase it, and then see that same item on sale a week later, you may be able to take your receipt to the store and receive a refund of the difference between the retail price and the sale price). 
  • Availability in stores. If you're looking on a store's web site to see what they have, make sure you verify if it is an item sold in the store or if you can only purchase it online. Purchasing online requires a wait time for shipping. And, if it doesn't fit, then you have to wait for the time to return it and to receive the correct size. I suggest that, if you are going to order something online, to order it in two sizes, and return the one that doesn't fit the best. This will save you time, and most online orders are not charged return shipping fees. 
  • Fit. Go to the store before you plan to purchase (even if you plan to purchase online) to try on similar outfits by the same label or designer to see how their garments fit on you. Also, if you are looking online, take the time to see what the details say about the fit (does it run true to size, run small or run big?), and always read the reviews from others who have purchased the same item.
  • Other options. On the actual day you go shopping, give yourself time to visit all the stores that meet your criteria. Anything you find and think you might want to buy, ask them to hold it for you until the end of the day after you've visited each store. You never know if you will find something even better at the second or third store. When you're done, decide which items you like best and go back and purchase the ones you're still in love with.
This may sound like a lot of work, but usually big events are scheduled well in advance, giving you plenty of time to follow this method of research. If your big event happens to be a job interview, I suggest you plan on buying two interview suits that can easily be mixed and matched since you may be subjected to multiple rounds of interviews.

Deciding what to wear to the important occasions in our lives should be part of the joy of those occasions. It should not be stressful nor unnecessarily expensive, so make it easy on yourself and your wallet by being strategic and planning ahead! 

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