Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Post-Fourth of July bargain pop quiz

Didn't think there would be a test of your bargain-hunting skills, did you?

In my March 28 entry on factory outlet shopping, I noted a few fundamentals before going on the bargain hunt:
  • Assess what you already have in your wardrobe.

Did you, for example, like summer whites so much that you purchased enough shirts, pants, socks and even shoes to outfit a Wimbledon tournament field?

Fortunately, white goes with anything, and is appropriate in every occasion save funerals. The key is in getting the goods on sale. The more of one color that you have, the less inclined you should be to pay more for subsequent purchases involving the same color.

  • Did you establish a budget in place before shopping?

After July 4, sale items get progressively better. But bargain hunting 'til you're broke defeats the purpose of shopping. It is not necessary to chase after every sale item. Rather, with the set amount of money you're willing to spend, you can relish your haul knowing what the regular price of the goods are without going overboard. Prioritizing your purchases within a budget is paramount.

  • How good a deal did you manage to find?

Here are some of what I saw from recent visits to outlet stores in the Houston area (before sales tax):

J. Crew: Cotton twill blue striped trousers, reg. $49.50 -- $17.50

Brooks Brothers: Black & white spectator shoes by Peal & Co., reg. $428 -- $112.50

Polo Ralph Lauren: Purple Label white peak lapel cotton blazer, reg. $599.99 -- $127.50

Cole Haan: Cotton blend dress socks, reg. $22.50 -- $3.98

If you have a calculator handy, the minimum discount is 65 percent off, all the above items are first quality, and they make me look like a million. I'm ready for the Kentucky Derby with a tall glass of lemonade in hand.

And if you happen not to make it to the factory outlets, check online with Shop It To Me, which brings lower prices on designer wear to you.

Now it's your turn.

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