Six Tips to Help You Break Your Clearance Addiction

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By Marla Tomazin

Six Tips to Help You Break Your Clearance AddictionNow that fall is here, all your favorite stores are most likely lined with racks and racks of clearance items from last season. Many people find the temptation of steep discounts hard to resist. If you’re not careful, before you know it, those items that are marked down 50 percent or more may hop straight from the rack into your shopping cart. While it’s not unheard of to find pieces you’ll love for years to come in the half-off bin, more often you wind up with impulsive purchases that you regret later. Over time, those “regrets” pile up in your closet until you’re left staring at your wardrobe and wondering why you have nothing to wear.

A great price can blind us to the fact that the clothes in question don’t fit well, aren’t really our style, or are just plain odd. It’s time to break the vicious cycle of buying something just because it’s on clearance. This doesn’t mean you can’t ever snag a great sale item. But those “gotta have it” purchases should be the exception, not the rule. Before you get out your wallet, check out my tips to help you shop smart and kick your clearance addiction for good.

Neiman Marcus Last Call (Neiman Marcus)

Know your existing wardrobe. Before you shop, spend a little time with your existing clothing so you know what you already have. A person with twelve black tanks doesn’t need another one just because it’s marked down to fifteen dollars. Likewise, this exercise will help you recognize what you’re missing. Going into a store with a recent inventory of your clothes and accessories sets you up for shopping success.

Make a list. It’s a good idea to head toward the clearance section with a clear idea of what you’re really looking for. If you need jeans, don’t get sidetracked by blouses. Additionally, keep an eye out for pieces you currently lack as well as items that will extend or complement your present wardrobe, such as blazers, cardigans, or a simple pair of boots. These classic items can likely be used with what you already own.

Take an honest assessment. Each time you consider purchasing something new—especially if it’s a piece you didn’t come in to buy—ask yourself a few questions. First, ask if you would choose this item if it were full priced. It’s easy to grab something that’s not quite “you” because it’s cheap—and these are the pieces that end up in the back of your closet with the tags still attached. The second question to ask is whether or not the item is well made. Remember that a great price isn’t worth sacrificing quality. You’ll just have to replace the garment again if the stitching is poor or the fabric is flimsy.

Shop with a pal. If you tend to make impulse purchases, bring along a friend who will give you truthful feedback. She can be your voice of reason and keep you on track in a sea of discounted clothes. It’s incredibly helpful to have someone with you to point out when a color isn’t flattering, or to rein you in when you’re trying to buy everything in sight. Be sure to return the favor when it’s your friend’s turn to surf the sales.

Take a break. Most stores will be happy to hold your clothing choices for a few hours while you think them over. Stepping away from the plethora of options is critical to realizing if you really want to make the purchase or not. So get out of the store for a bit and grab a latte, take a walk, or run another errand while you mull it over. Once you’ve had time to think, you’ll know whether that potential bargain is worth your cash or not.

Know the return policy. Despite your best efforts, you could still wind up purchasing something you would like to take back. Those cute ballet flats might be too tight after all, or perhaps those black trousers are a little too similar to your other slacks at home. In many cases, you’ll have at least 30 days to change your mind, but be aware that sometimes clearance sales are final. If you’re unsure about the return policy, ask before you buy. And be sure to keep your receipts handy so you can find them when you need them.

When shopping the sales, keep in mind that a great price doesn’t always translate to a great choice for your wardrobe collection. A little planning and an editing eye can drastically cut down on pieces you truly don’t need or even want. And when you do find bargain items that really resonate with you, you’ll be glad you saved your money and closet space for pieces that truly belong there.


MarlaHeadshotMarla Tomazin, Certified Image Consultant, established her image consulting business in 1990 with the goal of helping clients identify an authentic image and develop its effective expression. Marla utilizes her abilities in evaluating body shape, movement, and coloring as well as synthesizing optimal cuts, lines, colors, and textures. This results in balance and proportion that accentuate attributes and conceal flaws. Marla has appeared on numerous TV and radio stations and programs. Visit


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