7 Thrift and Clearance Shopping Tips

1. My number one piece of advice for clearance shopping is to buy items at the end of the season. Best time to shop for summer clothes - September. Best time to shop for winter clothes - February. By shopping this way I've scored quality swimsuits for $10 or less, genuine leather boots for $20, shorts and tank tops for $3, and winter coats for under $20!

The pieces above are all end of season clearance buys that I got for under $5 each.

2. Learn which quality brands offer the best clearance at department stores. For instance, for a leather bag, Fossil, Sak, Tommy Hilfiger, or Tiganello have affordable clearance prices. For leather shoes, Nine West, Aldo, Banana Republic and Gap clearance out their shoes for rock bottom prices.

These leather soled and leather upper heels I bought at the Nine West store - they are the Boutique line that I got on clearance for under $20!

3. Speaking of leather, if you must splurge, splurge on genuine leather products. Leather bags, belts, and shoes will wear well. I try to avoid faux leather items and am willing to spend quite a bit more just to ensure I get genuine leather.

I bought these Cynthia Vincent leather soled and upper sandals on clearance for $60. A fortune for me, but it was worth it to have a quality sandal that would withstand walking the streets of Europe for 10 days straight.

4. To find genuine leather for the best price try Goodwill, garage sales in wealthy neighborhoods, eBay, or end of season clearance shopping at the mall.

I got this genuine leather cross body bag for my trip to Europe a few years ago at a garage sale for only a quarter!

5. Learn to recognize brands so that you can weed through the piles of clothes at Goodwill or thrift stores. In other words, brands like Faded Glory or Circo are Wal-Mart and Target brands that you can generally find brand new for the same price as the pre-owned Goodwill versions. If you know your department store brands, you'll be able to discern whether the Goodwill price is actually a good deal. For instance, I.N.C. is a brand Macy's typically carries. Antonio Melani is typically a brand that Dillard's carries. Style & Co. is a Macy's brand that usually clearances out for very low prices.

Five years ago I thrifted this BCBG cashmere blue cardigan for $7. The fact it was cashmere alone told me that I could never buy it new for that price, but I also knew that BCBG never clearances out for prices that low. It was a fabulous deal!

6. Research the stye forecast before you buy. You may find an end of season boot that you love, only to find out when it's finally time to wear the boots that square toed/platform boots are no longer in fashion. If you must buy a trendy end of season item, opt for a trend that is just beginning to get the most wear out of the item.
I bought this "wild orchid" colored blouse last year at an end of season clearance sale for $3. Lucky for me this color was named the color of the year by Pantone.

7. Know your measurements, not just your size, when it comes to online shopping. This also helps when thrift shopping. If you know your hip measurement is 36", you can eyeball a pair of jeans to see if, when laying flat, it has about 18" across in the hip area and will fit you. Don't stick to just one size - try on anything that looks like it might fit.
I bought this vintage dress without a size marked on it at The Salvation Army, knowing it would fit me because I knew my actual measurements, not just my size.

OK, so that's all I've got for now. I'm sure some of you can add quite a few more tips and I'd love to hear them!