One of the best ways to save money on apparel is by shopping the Junior stores and the Juniors section in major department stores. If you are short/petite woman under 5’4 and relative small boned, the Junior Department can put my breathing room in your pocket. It would in my opinion, not be advisable to shop in Juniors if you are taller than 5’4 or more than 130 pounds.
There is a significant markup when you move over to the Women’s section in fine department stores. Misses is looking pretty good nowadays, since more manufacturers are interpreting trends a lot quicker and the styles are more reflective of what’s on the runway, but the price point between Juniors and Misses is a good $50 to $200 difference. I’m also referring to the department store “house brands” and not any of the name brand designers they may carry.
I figured why pay $98 for a skirt in Misses (for example a INC skirt at Macy’s may retail for $98) when you can pay $39 in the Junior section. Some of the better junior lines are XOXO, BCX, Rampage, Zinc and Necessary Objects. I always go for their suiting separates and outerwear. That’s not to say that one shouldn’t shop the Women’s section at all. The best time to shop the misses/petite section is during seasonal changes, so you can get that extra 30% to 50% off. You probably don’t want to wait until it hits the clearance rack, because by that time sizes are limited and everything is picked over. The Junior section is great for blazers, dress shirts, coats, and blouses.
If you are a woman in your thirties or forties you want to be extremely selective. You probably want to avoid the casual wear (tanks, t-shirts, casual tops and pants, jeans, leggings, undergarment and swim wear) area, unless you don’t give a hoot and just want to “go there”. I prefer to exercise judgment and put “style” before trends, but obviously it’s whatever the person is comfortable with.
I also stay away from buying dresses from the Juniors department, because many time their dresses are too short, over-embellished, made with skimpy material, poorly designed or are too “prom” looking. The Junior stores (Forever21, Wet Seal) really aren’t any better. Update: Forever 21 has made adjustments in their line and they’re now offering Misses, plus and maternity sizing on-line.
I usually purchase my dresses from department stores during clearance season or Target, Dillards, Marshalls / TJ Maxx or Ross for Less. Basic lifestyle stores like Gap and Old Navy are great places to pick up pants, jeans and solid pieces and occasionally you can find a nice summer dress on the cheap. The Gap is great, but lately they have decided to stock less merchandise so they do less markdowns, thereby making it harder to find really good deals at the Gap.
Juniors is a good alternative if your clothing budget is very tight. Many women today have so many other financial responsibilities that there is hardly any room for “fashion” in their budget. They may have the same amount of funds for clothing as a college student. So why not take advantage of their resources. This will enable the fashionably frugal mom or single woman to look good but stay focus on other financial priorities.
I'm a fortysomething year old hard working mom (now empty nester) that loves fashion, but my purse strings ain't so flexible! My 22 year old son is college graduate and living his own life, so I got some time on my hands *wink* Now that you got the 5 second rundown; pull up a chair, get that Latte and browse around.
Budget Friendly Stores
Jessica Simpson Shoes
H & M
Ross Dress for Less
New York & Company