It's easier than ever to score deals on clothing and accessories, according to ShopSmart, the shopping magazine from the publisher of Consumer Reports. Sales and coupons are everywhere, and there's always something marked down online. But shoppers can do even better if they know how to work all the angles.
"It's easy to save money on clothes at end-of-season sales. But if you use smart strategies, you can save money on clothes at the beginning of the season when they have the colors you like and the sizes that you need," said Lisa Lee Freeman, editor-in-chief of ShopSmart.
Here are six must-do steps:
• Sign up for sales alerts. Most retailers have regular email alerts that let shoppers know about sales (in-store and online), discount codes, contests and more.
• Grab coupons. Never check out (virtually or in person) without searching for a coupon or a promo code to get a discount or free shipping. RetailMeNot.com is a good first stop.
• Scour online clearance racks. Many retailers offer deeply discounted items in sale sections on their websites, which can be a lot easier to go through than store racks.
• Try eBay. If you want a specific item (used or new) -- say a little black dress from your favorite designer in size 10 -- you might find it on eBay for a steal.
• Be loyal. If stores you shop have a free loyalty card, sign up to save. A good one: The Shop Your Way Rewards card nets you savings at Kmart, Lands' End and Sears.
• Be a follower. Connect with your favorite retailers and brands on Twitter and Facebook, and you can get the first scoop on the latest sales, plus tip-offs to upcoming special promotions.
• Target is a great place to shop for lingerie as their selection ranges from sexy to sporty. Check DailyDeals.Target.com for one great discounted item every day with free shipping, and follow TargetDeals on Twitter.
• Old Navy offers an ultra-affordable workout wear line called Active by Old Navy that includes enough styles and colors to make you want to suit up and hit the gym. Shipping is always free for orders of $50 or more, and you can combine Old Navy, Gap, Banana Republic, Piperlime and Athleta orders.
• Amazon (amazon.com/fashion) offers a huge selection on clothing items and carries brands such as Alice & Olivia and Tracy Reese.
• DesignerApparel (designerapparel.com) is a great site for finding sales on high-end designer clothing.
• Refashioner (refashioner.com) is best for scoring vintage items. This eco-friendly fashion community is a gold mine of secondhand garments.
• Linda's Stuff (stores.ebay.com/Lindas-Stuff) is an eBay consignment store filled with lots of gently used gems from fashion-forward ladies around the world.