The area that surrounds clearance racks can feel like an alternate universe: Budgetary concerns and closet inventories seem to evaporate, along with the ability to make rational decisions. The lure of bargains is strong, and can monkey with otherwise savvy, reasonable shoppers. Which is especially unfortunate since many clearance items are final sale, so any unfortunate impulse buys may be irreversible. Here are a few things to keep in mind before you step into the Clearance Zone and risk an ill-informed purchase:

  • When you find an item that you feel compelled to buy, ask yourself, "What will happen if I don’t buy this? Will I remember that I wanted it in two weeks?"
  • Try to identify the aspect(s) of the item in question that make it worthy of purchase. What, exactly, thrills you about this thing? Is it the color, cut, fabric, and fit? Or is it just that it's a designer name on deep discount? Or something you've seen in magazines that's suddenly in your hands and affordable?
  • Force yourself to envision at least three outfits that will utilize your clearance find. I know this tactic may feel a bit played-out, but it really, REALLY works. Some garments need time to work their way into daily wear, but any garment that doesn't work naturally with your established style will just become a closet orphan.

Clearance items can become wardrobe workhorses, can add zest to ailing closets, and can constitute brag-worthy bargains. But I'd wager that the majority of shopping misfires take place within the confines of the Clearance Zone. So consider arming yourself with a few quiz questions before you start browsing the racks.

How do you avoid clearance sale mishaps?

Image via ReFab Online.

Sally McGraw is the author of Already Pretty, a daily blog about the intersection of style and body image. 

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