Thursday, July 5, 2012

Bargain Hunting at the Neiman Marcus Sale

If there's one thing my mother taught me right, it was how to find a bargain.  This isn't your let's-go-to-Marshall's-and-see-what-turns-up kind of bargain.  Though for the record, Marshall's is AWESOME.  I mean, home decor at low, low prices?  Yes please.  No, this is fabulous, designer clothing and accessories for as low as you can get.  While my shopping budget was almost done with for the month, my sister dragged me to Neiman Marcus' Fourth of July Sale (everything an additional 40% off).

Neiman Marcus sale rack Lenox Square Mall in Atlanta, GA

At this point, you're probably thinking, "Vivian, you stupid idiot, you're trying to save money.  What the hell are you doing at Neiman's?"  Why, I'm glad you asked, rude questioner.  Bargain hunting can be easily done at high-end department stores (not even the off-rack places like Off Fifth or Nordstrom Rack), at prices comparable to H&M and Forever 21 retail.  You just need to know how to attack it.  Allow me to explain with 5 easy tips.  Now you're probably asking, "Why would you ruin it for yourself by telling people this?"  Well, persistent questioner, if you look at it this way, you will help me save money by taking all of the wondrously cheap designer clothes away from me.  We all win in this situation.

Click the next page to read on.  There are way too many pictures and words that the aesthetics would drive me insane looking at it on the main page.  Much of it is common sense, so if I'm pontificating then just tell me to shut up.  Spoiler alert, I ended up buying two pieces that were:  1) Killer and covered in rhinestone, and 2) Under $100 with tax in total.  Click away!

1.  Know where the best sale dives are.
Let me clearly state:  the best high-end department store bargains aren't in New York City.  It's as simple as the basic laws of economic competition.  In a big city like New York, you have more people with a higher disposable income, not to mention the higher placed cultural importance of fashion.  As such, a sale like this one will have all of the good stuff taken away rather quickly, and a slew of people to deal with nonetheless.  Higher demand equals lower supply.

In comparison, a place like Atlanta, Georgia has less people vying for the same thing.  Sale day at Neimans or Bloomingdales much resembles Macy's or Dillard's on a slow day.  Culturally speaking, people rever these high-end stores as "too expensive", and as such, the store is overflowing in product leading to better markdowns and a wider variety.  Lower demand equals higher supply.  Fortunately for me, I live 10 minutes away from one of the greatest malls in Atlanta (Lenox Square for the win!).

2.  Make a budget and know your limits.
I didn't say everything was going to be really cheap.  Even the best things can run a little expensive I like to shop using a little mental math (and maybe some moving averages... just to remind me what I went to school for) to see how much I can play with my budget.  For example, I'm always in need for some good work clothes.  These Theory slacks had an amazing fit, and were so comfortable.  However, they ran a little long and very expensive at around $92, leaving little room to play with the budget.  As well, integrating in the cost of tailoring would mean it would be worth well over $100.  It didn't seem exactly worth it, especially since you could get a similar pair for about half the price.

Theory Max C Original Tailor Pant

3.  Just because it's on sale and brand name, does not mean you should buy it.  
Know what doesn't look good or what you don't need.  Bring a critical eye just in case.  Unfortunately, my family considers me the least fashionable member of my family, so I generally bring my much more stylish, no-nonsense and spendthrift sister with me if I do go out.  (It's true.  Don't try to make me feel better.   I've accepted it).   If it wasn't for her discerning opinion, I probably would have bought this floral pattern maxi dress that made me look like a real housewife of Beverly Hills on vacation in Mexico.  Thanks, sis, for helping me avoid months of questioning my fashion choices.

Brand = can't remember (similar)

4.  Know what you want and how much you want it for.
Before I ever go out, I always make a mental list of what I'm looking for.  Yes, I deviate from the list, but if it's set in stone it makes it much less likely for me to spend way too much money on things I don't need.  This time around, I was only allowed to buy work clothes, a good-priced maxi dress (about $50 to $80 dollars willing to spend) or a good-priced going out dress about ($20 to $60 willing to spend).  Narrowing down the list, help me avoid the jeans and shorts rack and saved me some time, being a methodical shopper.  With that in mind, I found a sale priced $43.20 sheer dress that was perfect for going out.  But something seems missing....

For Love and Lemons Dress (similar)

5.  Don't skip over the accessories!
Color me conservative, but sheer freaks me out a little bit.  The solution?  Accessories!  Even in a huge department store like Neimans, there's huge potential for savings in the accessories department hidden away.  In this case, the accessories sale (which was an additional 25% off) was limited to a single table of power beads, scarves and belts in the middle of the non-sale section.  I found a leather safety belt and a leather belt with a jaguar covered in rhine stones.  The jaguar belt pulled the night time look together in both fit and in style, giving it an edge with its studded silver buttons.  The safety belt however made the dress look a little too utilitarian, like a Power Ranger or Batman.  You can probably guess which one I got...

Left:  Moss Mills Belt; Right:  Unknown Belt (similar)

The rhinestone jaguar!  Yes, I know it's not something that's terribly reusable or work appropriate, but c'mon!  How many times are you going to get a rhinestone jaguar belt on sale?  You're also talking to the girl who wanted a necklace with a dinosaur robot on it!  I ended up buying the sheer dress and the belt together.  They really did just complement each other.  Add on a loose bun, some strappy heels, and some rhinestone earrings, and we have an outfit on our hands.  The total price?  $97.69, under the $100 budget!

Neiman Marcus end of sale haul

Alright kids, I know you won't believe it, but NO MORE SHOPPING for the rest of the month and potentially into next month.  I have a budget to maintain.  If you have any other tips to navigate a sale... or how to survive on shopping lock-down, holler at your girl down below.  If you just bought something fabulous and want to share it, feel free to do that too!  Go for it!


  1. Love this outfit you got under $100! (Love their fitting rooms btw. I'm a Saks girl all the way but they got me there) :) We'll need to go shopping together one day in Atlanta. It'll be fun finding all the small odd shops in Atl on a budget.

    1. Seriously, though based on what happened last time in Park Slope, I have a feeling that you and I at Saks and Neimans together could be pretty dangerous.

  2. Hey, thanks for dropping by my blog. One of my favorite places to bargain hunt for really great designer finds is Last Call at Discover MIlls. Last year, I picked up a $1500 Stella McCartney jacket for $200. You might have to fight off all the other Asian housewives in the area, but I notice that the usually great, unique designer finds are left untouched there. I think they're one of the last outlets to hold out on purchasing items specifically for outlet sale.