A little retail therapy

15 Fashionable Ways to Save on Clothes, Shoes & Accessories

by Lidia Shong

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A little retail therapy goes a long way, but you don't have to break the bank to look your best. If you follow these tips, you'll be able to save on clothes, shoes and accessories and make the most of what's already in your closet.

1. Get Organized - If you keep your closet organized, you'll be able to do an inventory of what you already have, so you can avoid buying stuff you don't need. Use apps like Closet or Stylebook to take pictures of your closet, so you can take it on your next shopping trip for reference.

Pro tip: If you don't want to use another app, just organize your closet using a color-coding system and take a picture with your phone.

2. Follow the Rule of Three - Before you purchase anything, ask yourself, "Does it go with at least three pieces I own?" That will help you avoid buyer's remorse when you get home and realize that your "great purchase" doesn't go with anything else in your closet.

3. One In, One Out - Donate or sell an old item for every new item you buy. This helps you identify what you really like to wear and items that you don't even remember why you purchased in the first place.

4. Dye Faded Fabrics - If your sweaters are starting to look a bit tired, you can bring them back to life with dye. You'll spend $5 on the dye and have your favorite pieces ready for prime time again. Check out these tips from Rit Dye on how to do it.

5. DIY Dry Cleaning - Dry cleaning costs add up quickly, making dry-clean-only items less of a bargain after all. Either look for washable substitutes or DIY at home using Dryel for light freshening.

6. Rent, Don't Buy - If you are going to a once-in-a-lifetime event or cruise and need a fancy outfit, save money and rent your item instead. Check out Rent the Runway for women's and The Black Tux for men's apparel.

7. Shop Discount Stores - You can get great deals at stores like TJ Maxx, Kohl's, DSW and Marshalls. You'll have to take some time to browse, but the savings can be substantial if you have some patience and flexibility. For online discount stores, check out 6PM and Bluefly.

8. Buy Previously Loved Items - Get gently used designer items for a fraction of the price from online re-sellers like Tradesy and Poshmark.

9. Get Coupons - Before buying anything online, search for coupons from specific stores you want to shop from. You can find them on sites like RetailMeNot and CouponCabin that are updated daily with coupons from free shipping to 50% off sale items.

10. Shop Outlets and Factory Stores - There was a time when outlet malls and factory stores were a sure deal. Before you buy, check the store's website to compare outlet prices to the regular store and make sure you're getting a deal.

Pro tip: Before you take a trip to the outlet mall, look for additional coupons online or shop on national holidays when outlet stores offer deeper discounts.

11. Shop Flash Sale Sites - You can find some amazing deals on sites like Zulily, Gilt and HauteLook. But beware. In order to get access to the deals, you must sign up for their daily emails, which are filled with tempting offers.

Pro tip: If you find yourself putting a $4.99 neon sweater in your cart just because it's a deal, log off for a few hours. When you come back, the item will likely be gone or you'll have come to your senses and changed your mind.

12. Use Reward Credit Cards - Most credit cards give you cash back or points that can be redeemed for free flights and other perks. Some also have their own online shopping mall where you can get extra rewards by going through their website. That way, you could double up on discounts and rewards.

13. Get Cash Back or Gift Cards - For cash back on your purchases, simply go through Ebates website to your retailer. For gift cards, download the Shopkick app to earn you kicks (points) towards free gift cards when you visit retailers, scan items, or make purchases.

Save every shopping dollar that you can! Receive cash back on your purchases when you use one or more of these 14 favorite cash back shopping sites.

14. Go Generic - Basic t-shirts, tank tops, workout clothes and layering items don't have to be expensive. Stores like Old Navy or Target offer quality basics at great prices.

Pro Tip: Sign up for their emails to get additional discounts on already reduced sale and clearance items.

15. Add Accessories - Instead of purchasing a whole new outfit in a trendy color, you can get away with a scarf, hat, belt, or other accessories that will update your style without emptying your wallet.

Before you walk into a mall or log into a shopping site, remind yourself, "It's not a good deal unless I need it." Avoid the "incredible sale" trap by walking out of the store or away from the computer for a few minutes. Never, ever pay full price! Good retail therapy shouldn't leave a hole in your wallet.

Lidia Shong is Head of Marketing for AboutLife.com. Visit the site for tips on how to save on travel, entertainment and other everyday expenses.

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