Have you ever sat down watching the Today Show or Good Morning America, spotted something fabulously fashionable, and thought… I’ve got to have that? Maybe you’ve wondered how your favorite news team is able to afford a seemingly endless supply of colorful, on-trend dresses, skirts and shoes. Do you wonder how they shop?
From top TV talent to those you see locally, we spend a LOT less on clothing than you might think. There’s no doubt image is part of our job, so we take shopping seriously. The right look keeps viewers and managers happy. The wrong one will land you a host of “what were you thinking” emails.
Here’s the kicker. Although a stylish wardrobe is a requirement of an on-air job, it’s not a tax write-off and only the rare employer is willing to chip in. Television news is a notoriously low paying industry, especially for those in the early stages of their journalism career. By necessity we’ve become a thrifty bunch.
You can find the same brands at T.J. Maxx, Marshalls and Ross Dress for Less as those you’d snag at a store like Macy’s, but for much, much less. The trick is patience and persistence. There’s no telling what you’ll find, or if they’ll have your size available. If they do and you love it, grab it immediately; it won’t last.
I make a point of visiting at least one discount retailer every other week to peruse new options. For example, at most T.J. Maxx locations, you will find replenished stock 3-5 days a week. I certainly don’t buy things each time I visit; I just like the hunt.
While I supplement my wardrobe with the occasional “trendy” item—scooped up from stores like Forever 21 or H&M—the bulk of my wardrobe comes from discount retailers. They might not have much ambiance, especially at Ross, but they offer designer quality that will last. It also pays to make friends with the sales team. Start a casual conversation and ask what day the store gets its new merchandise in. They may also tell you when markdowns typically happen. That insider information will help you score the best deal possible.
**Note: Ross is especially great for shoes if you wear a size that’s not high in demand. In fall, I scooped up the ruffle pumps below for less than $15! Unfortunately, they did not last at that price. Here’s a similar pair from Target.
Do you remember hearing about the “meteorologist dress,” an item spotted at TV stations across the country? If not, this will clue you in. Since it can be tough to know what you’re getting when you purchase clothing online, we are not shy about telling each other what works. In fact, we often trade reviews about affordable Amazon dress options in Facebook groups. People Magazine may worry about “who wore it better,” but we know there are enough days in the year for all of us to wear it well.
Be sure to read the fit instructions very carefully though.
Most Amazon dresses run small, so you will want to size up. I usually wear a 0 or 2 in dresses and opted for a small in my green 3/4 sleeve dress. It’s my new favorite. The fabric has a very nice stretch to it, super comfy! Like most Amazon dresses, it’s unlined, but nylons or—better yet—Spanx tights (this is my favorite reversible pair) can take care of that.
Here are links to a few of the Amazon finds garnering rave reviews in the anchor/reporter community right now. Not only are they tested and approved for various body types, most are under $30 even $20!
Find a clothing item you love, but notice a small snag or stain? Take a good look to assess if it’s something you can fix or easily spot treat. If so, ask for an additional discount. This has netted me an extra 10-15 percent off every time I’ve asked.
If you want a really wide range of options to showcase the most current looks and trends, rental services may be worth a try. I haven’t pursued this myself, as I would rather spend money on an item I can keep in perpetuity, than shell out funds for rentals. That said, plenty of news anchors use services like Rent the Runway Unlimited, Rent the Runway Update, Stitch Fix or Le Tote and have given them a thumbs up. I was curious about how the various programs work, so here’s the skinny:
Rent The Runway:
You pay $159 a month (that includes shipping and insurance) and select four items to be shipped to you. You enjoy them for as long or short a time period as you want. When RTR processes your return, a spot opens up for something new and you get to choose another item or items. You are automatically charged each month until you cancel. There’s no doubt the $500 or $1000 dresses you will find through RTR will have a look and fit that’s hard to match. On the other hand, be warned. Your size may not always be available. In addition, while every item has been professionally dry cleaned, they have been worn before. Some customers have reported (very slight) wear and tear. RTR Unlimited has a special offer (below) to celebrate the new year right now. RTR Update sends you one monthly shipment to refresh your wardrobe at $89 per month
Le Tote is a personal styling service that sends you a tote filled with clothing, accessories or both. You get to keep your tote items as long as you want. When you ship them back, you get a new box. It costs $59 a month (free shipping and dry cleaning). Le Tote lets you create a virtual online “closet” or wish list by selecting items from its collections. You can read more on its blog here.
Stitch Fix is essentially a personal styling service. You fill out a style questionnaire, marking your size, look and price preferences; then choose the date you’d like to receive your shipment. You’ll be charged a $20 dollar styling fee (that $20 will be applied as a credit toward anything you want to keep). In return, you will receive five pieces of clothing, shoes or accessories to try on at home. You have three days to decide what to buy and what to send back. You are only charged for the items you choose to keep.
So, there you have it… A little window into our affordable shopping strategy.
Do you have any great money-saving style tips? I’d love to hear them!