Whether you're a high-powered exec or a stay-at-home mom, you've probably found that as your responsibilities increase your shopping time has suffered. Before you resort to drastic measures like buying your clothes on the run at the same place you get your groceries, take advantage of strategies that can keep you well dressed in less time.
1. Personal shopper
It sounds like an impossible luxury, but the complimentary personal shoppers at larger stores -- department stores or specialty -- usually don't cost you anything to use. Not only can this be a huge timesaver, it's like a free session with your own stylist.
Your shopper will pre-shop the store before you get there according to your style, size and budget preferences. Then, you'll either be presented the choices in a private setting or in some cases the shopper can bring the choices to your home or office.
2. Go high-end
At some of the premium stores you'll find not only personal shoppers, but excellent sales people who can help you one-on-one find what you need. In general, you'll find great service (always a timesaver) and even the extras like home or hotel delivery and an on-site tailor.
If better specialty and department stores are out of your price range, think about using them as a resource for end-of-season sales. You'll be able to buy better clothing at a more moderate price when the prices are slashed for clearance.
3. Think specialty
Department stores are great when you have time to roam, but specialty stores -- retailers with a more focused lifestyle approach -- can offer a shopping experienced tailored to your taste. The trick is to find a specialty store that works and stick with it.
Ann Taylor, Avenue and Gap, are examples of one-stop locations (most carry everything from beauty to bras now) that are great for fast fashion.
Find out which stores might work for you:
4. Shopping clubs and events
Get in good with the gals at Billiondollarbabes.com and you'll be invited to participate in a mega-sale of designer names that are slashed up to 80% off retail. The invitation-only event is held quarterly in New York and Los Angeles, but this national sample sale will give you the chance for total immersion shopping.
You can even combine vacations with planned shopping by using a shopping tour service.
Most regional apparel marts (Dallas, Los Angeles, etc.) offer sample sale days when they open to the public. Check out your local apparel mart for details.
5. Buy in bulk.
Great jeans? Buy two of them. Perfect-fitting T-shirt? Get it in three or four colors.
The secret to buying basics in bulk successfully is to find great essentials -- T-shirts, camis, jeans, pants, bras -- and pick up either two of the same exact item or the same item in different colors.
This type of "uniform" dressing doesn't mean your wardrobe has to be boring! By layering and accessorizing, you can make even the most boring essentials uniquely you.
Buying in bulk means that your closet will always be stocked with the necessities and any extra shopping time can be spent on the frills like gorgeous shoes, pretty blouses, etc.
6. Internet and catalog
It may seem like a no-brainer to order 24/7 from the 'Net and catalogs, but if you aren't smart about your shopping, these can be a huge time drainer.
If you are least bit hard to fit, mail order shopping can mean extra time with returns and tailoring. And if you don't have some idea of what you want, browsing the vast resources on the Web can take hours.
Make sure you know your size before shopping online or by catalog, and the best way to do this is to take measurements.
Use all of the resource available through customer service to answer all of your questions before you buy. And finally, check out return policies carefully.
Learn to shop smarter