A no-sweat, forward-looking clearance sale strategy

Our fashion maven says there's plenty of summer clothing marked down that can be adapted for other seasons, especially in the Northwest.
Crosscut archive image.
Our fashion maven says there's plenty of summer clothing marked down that can be adapted for other seasons, especially in the Northwest.

The waning days of summer bring clothing clearance sales, and my personal favorites offer a percentage off the last marked price. Last week I picked up a light tan, sweater-weight tank at Nordstrom Rack, original price $49, marked down to $24 – 40 percent plus another 25 percent discount for a final price of $10.79. Because it is a neutral color and a heavier weight, I can wear this layered all year round. (The bonus is that I would never have spent $49 on this tank, but now I have a super-soft, high-quality top to reach for this fall.)

A sale item that sits in your closet is no bargain, so the trick is to look for items that can be worn year-round in the Northwest. Raise your credit card signing hand and say it with me: "While shopping the clearance racks I will remember to consider my price-per-wear."

Here are some guidelines for making the most of the sales this month:

  • Keep an eye out for neutral, saturated colors that can be worn year-round (brown, black, camel, dark gray, teal, and navy, for example). White and creamy winter white can be the exception here.
  • Look for textured fabrics like lightweight tweeds. Ask yourself if the item would look appropriate with dark tights or shoes, and if not, it is probably not a heavy enough fabric for fall/winter.
  • Lightweight knits are a real find. These can be pull-overs, cardigans, or even light-weight turtlenecks.
  • Button-down shirts (especially white, black, or french blue) are great for men and women.
  • Knit camisoles, t-shirts, and vests are great layering pieces.
  • Cocktail dresses can be snapped up cheaply right now. We are right in between prom season and the holidays, so most cocktail dresses are currently marked down. You can shop ahead for those weddings or parties coming up.
  • Lightweight wool suits in a dark color can be worn year-round in the Northwest. Also check out ties on sale. There are some inexpensive ones in saturated colors that would look snazzy with those suits.
  • Look for fancy camisoles to wear under blazers and cardigans.
  • Stock up on basic sandals that can be saved for next year. Everyone can use a pair of black or brown sandals for summer. Many stores (even REI) are offering great deals on sandals right now. Buy next summer's pair now so you can retire that old (smelly?) pair from your closet at the end of the month.
  • Make sure the fit is great. If an item doesn't look great, take a second look; the piece might be altered to fit fabulously. Add that in to the cost and see if it still seems like a bargain. For example, if you found a great pair of charcoal gray trousers that are too big in the hips for $15, adding $25 for alterations still makes them a steal at $40. (Check store return policies, keep tags on, and save receipts in case your tailor recommends against alterations.)

If you are out on the town and run into an extra percentage-off sale, add a comment and let us all know.


Please support independent local news for all.

We rely on donations from readers like you to sustain Crosscut's in-depth reporting on issues critical to the PNW.


About the Authors & Contributors