Subscribing to the idea of "you get what you pay for" and living in the reality of "champagne taste and beer pocket book" is a dilemma that's easy to solve in our area.
For years my favorite stores have been The Gap, The Limited, J. Crew and other moderately priced mall staple shops. While these stores aren't high-end like the ones found along Madison Avenue, they do provide timeless looks that won't unravel after the first wash.
Full-priced items at mall stores may not cost $500 a piece, but they aren't exactly cheap, either. Because the cost of every other necessity has increased, it's difficult to invest $50 in a shirt, even if it will last for more than 10 years.
Of course you could wait until the top you want makes it to the sale rack. Sales at many of the brand name mall stores beat the prices of those found at discount giants where ham and electronics are sold. Sometimes the $50 shirt can be purchased for as little as $1.99-seriously.
The end of the season is often the best time for sales, especially for shoes. Around August, department stores have more red marks on their price tags than a test you once bombed. Then there's the additional 70 percent off the already reduced price. It's not unusual to find a $100 pair for $20.
When waiting for a sale just won't do, the best place to find quality clothing at rock-bottom prices are second-hand stores.
As a college student, I always turned to Goodwill to find a Halloween or theme-party costume. While looking for outrageous outfits, I began noticing vintage T-shirts and quickly realized there was a great selection of brand name clothes, some of which looked new.
Upon moving back to Elkins, a friend and I became frequent shoppers of Goodwill, Hospice Care Corp. thrift store and Coming Around Again. Also in Elkins is the new Runway's Closet, a clothing re-sell store, which offers a large selection of trendy brand-name apparel throughout the store. At these stores we've found everything from vintage coats, jeans, sweaters, great shoes and even designer name items that look like they have never been worn.
It takes time to find the perfect attire. Don't expect to take a five-minute lap around the store thinking something will pop out. Carefully search through the racks of clothes, don't rush, look at everything and move every hanger.
Plan a thrift store road trip with your friend(s). Instead of a day at the mall, stop by all the towns in the area and look for local consignment and thrift stores. Best advice: Make sure your friend is a different size than you. If they grab a great find before you do, such as Burberry shoes, it might be a quiet ride home.
Second-hand stores may not be seem "cool," but you're saving money to accessorize. Soon you too will be showing off what you got for $2.