01/28/2013 12:16 EST | Updated 03/30/2013 05:12 EDT

How to Get a Designer Wardrobe For Less

Every year, fashion-minded people resolve to transform their wardrobes in the hopes of purchasing fewer, higher quality items. It's an easy enough style commitment to make until you're actually looking at the price tag on those desirable investment pieces. Sticker shock sets in almost instantaneously when deciding to 'spend-up' for the quality clothing that will last for years to come in both the physical form and in style.

I suffer from sticker shock anxiety just like the next wardrobe investor, I just prefer to be shocked and amazed by the incredible discount that I've found rather than shocked and disappointed by the actual retail price. I believe that with persistence, and a little bit of effort, you can pretty much get the designer item that you covet for less. From one designer sale shopper to another, here are my tried and true tips for getting that highly covetable investment piece for your wardrobe, for less.


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Shop often

Stores like Winners and Marshalls carry discounted items from department stores and get new, yet selective, inventory every day. So when that perfect designer dud comes in, you need to be there to snatch it up. If the price point is still too high for your budget, make regular trips to the location to see if it has been discounted even further.

To get the best deals, visit your favourite department store's discount location, like Holt Renfrew Last Call or Nordstrom Rack. These locations carry the items that didn't sell in the regular department store and they are often a great place to find staple pieces, like a quality blazer or a little black dress, for less. For an even bigger discount, learn where the clearance rack is located in the store and make sure that when an item you want lands in this section, that you purchase it or somebody else will.

Go online

Often you can find the same clothing that you found in store, for less online. The challenge for any shopper will be to walk away from the item that you tried on in store. You won't get the same instant gratification from in-store shopping but if you do your research and monitor the prices online, you will likely find the item at a lower price.

Online shopping requires just as much effort as shopping in person for the designer piece that you want. When you find an item that you love, whether in store or online, do a quick Google search to find out the prices that other retailers are offering for that same item. Don't just stop at the Google search because sale prices are often not reflected on the item until it is viewed on the retailer's website.

Do the math

Math may not be my strong point but I appreciate what it can tell me regarding the size of the discount that I am getting and the average cost that I will pay for the item per wear. I'll admit it, I appreciate sales more when the discount is large, as I'm sure most of you do as well. Have a general sense of what discount percentage that you are looking for and use this as a baseline for the price that you are willing to pay for your item.

Price-per-wear apps can aid in your decision to purchase an investment piece for your wardrobe. They calculate the cost of an item against how many times you think you will wear it over a certain period of time. An item that costs $500, that you will wear two times each month for a period of five years will cost you approximately $4.20/wear. Those patent leather Manolo Blahnik Mary Jane Pumps seem like a better investment at $4 per wear over the course of five years. Of course, you can do this on a calculator, but the apps easily do it for you.

Remember, building a closet full of investment pieces doesn't happen overnight, so be patient and don't blow your budget on items that are out of reach just because they are on sale. With a little effort and some savvy shopping, these tips will help you to get over your sticker shock and get on your way to stocking up your closet with classic and quality investment pieces.