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Seize the Summer Sales (Without Regrets)

Just like food and gas, prices for other “staples” such as clothing, shoes and designer handbags (oh my!) keep rising. And our favorite imported labels may take the biggest hit – with a likely increase of as much as 35 percent for fall due to the exchange rate and fuel costs.

How can you fight this inflation? Begin your fall shopping during the end of season sales for spring and summer – when everything is 50 to 75 percent off.

There are many treasures to be had, so you need to know where to look and what is worthy of swiping your plastic. But, because our Texas winters are so mild, building a fall wardrobe on a budget is easier than you think.

The good news is that many of the shoe styles you saw for spring will continue into the fall. You can easily stride into autumn in a pair of platform sandals; just hunt for darker tones or black, brown and metallic (apply the same color strategy when you search out flats, wedges and pumps). Add in a pair of opaque or textured tights.

Finding a deeply discounted designer handbag, with an original price that may have exceeded $1,500, is like winning the lottery. Be on the lookout for anything in a nude, mauve, camel or metallic color. These hues complement everything we’re seeing on the runways, so you can pretty much carry one bag with every outfit. Sale shopping does require flexibility. You may covet an everyday tote, but all that is left is a “poseur” bag (what I call a small going out bag – big enough for lipstick and keys). As long as you love it and are not settling because of the low price, then go for it.

Dresses are now a wardrobe staple and stores bought heavily into them this spring. This is good news for sale shoppers, as it means there will be an ample selection calling your name on the markdown rack. Fabric and color make the difference in whether it will be wearable in the fall. Look for jersey, cottons, silks, lightweight wool gabardine and knits in purple, red, dark pastels and, of course, black. If a dress is too short, think about wearing it as a tunic over skinny jeans.

I always buy my cashmere sweaters on sale (J. Crew is my secret source). Spring-weight cashmere is perfect for year round in Texas. Don’t shy away from pastels in this category. Pair these fair hues with a fall favorite: black, navy or gray.

A few more must-grabs: high-waisted trousers, pencil skirts and an oversized “boyfriend” jacket.
Where to find everything in one place? The granddaddy of all sales: F.I.G. Finale. On Aug 22-23, stores from Dallas and Fort Worth set up temporary shop in the Fashion Industry Gallery. Call 214/748-4344 for more details.