Deal or No Deal? How to Shop for a Clothing Bargain

There are serious savings in shopping a bit off the beaten track, in the best possible way, such as vintage stores or designer overstock.

Super-sales at major department stores can yield deep discounts especially if it’s end of season. You can also get creative about the places you buy things and think outside the big-name box — there are serious savings in shopping a bit off the beaten track, in the best possible way, such as vintage stores or designer overstock.


The racks at the front of the stores like T.J. Maxx have become less of bargains over the years, offering full-price merchandise from lesser labels. Move straight on back to the “Clearance” sections and start to sort. Bargain stores are a great place to buy for a man who’s impossible to shop for.


Outlets used to be the first outpost of the bargain hunter, but as this business has become firmly entrenched, outlets sometimes sell their own brands, such as the Gap Outlet label, offering clothes that never make it into actual Gap stores. Full price at outlets is suspiciously like full price at the regular store! Consider carefully.


Here’s where you can get real bargains on designer labels. Type into a search engine (such as Google) the name of the item or designer that you want and the word “overstock.” You’ll find a range of sites selling brand-new stuff, usually with tags still on, at complete bargain-basement prices.


Like any store, these eclectic selections can be hit or miss. They’re not the types of places to find something highly specific, along the lines of, “I need a blue raincoat right now,” but they are the place to find a true bargain on some very distinctive pieces: a Gucci handbag, hardly used, for $15; a pair of Chanel shoes never worn, for $5; perhaps a velvety suede coat, tags on, for $20. Basics can be found for literally cents on the dollar, such as a skirt for 50 cents or a stretchy top for a quarter. These types of stores offer the thrill of the serious bargain and the hunt for the unexpected (and unexpectedly inexpensive) in exchange for giving up control — you never know what you might get on a given day, but it will likely be fabulous and cheap!


Sometimes a risky place to buy clothes because people are inclined to overprice something that means a lot to them. They know they paid $200 for that winter coat two years ago, so they put it in their front yard for $45, when to you it’s only worth $5 or $10. Bargain gently in these situations, and you might end up with a really good deal.

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Originally Published in Reader's Digest