1. Ask and you might receive. It won't always work, but sometimes all you have to do is ask nicely for a discount to get one. Next time you hit up your favorite store, try to get on the checkout line with an employee your recognize behind the register (if you're a frequent shopper there and you recognize them, there's a bigger chance you'll look familiar!). As they're ringing you up, ask if it's possible to get a discount on your purchase. This is more likely to go in your favor if you're just buying one thing, so don't be greedy — as when you're replacing your favorite jeans or buying a new pair of running sneakers, not mid-shopping spree.
2. Take care of your clothes. Dry-clean when the tag says to dry-clean, hand-wash nice lingerie, and don't let your floor double as a closet. Your favorite items will last a lot longer if you take care of them, and you won't have to replace them after a few months. This goes for shoes too. A $5 repair or touch-up on your favorite pair of heels every few months will go a long way in keeping them looking new.
3. Don't let gift cards go to waste — you can swap it for someone else's unwanted card on sites like cardavenue.com.
4. After an item lingers in stores a month or more, retailers start dropping its price to get it out the door, says Kathryn Finney, author of How to Be a Budget Fashionista. If you have the self-control, wait to grab it until six to eight weeks after an item hits the stores.
5. There's no worse feeling than finding out that your latest splurge went on sale days after you bought it. Before you hand over your credit card on a big purchase, ask if the object of your fashion lust is going on sale soon. The salesgirl might clue you in that a sale is coming up, or might even ring up the sale price right then and there.
6. Take advantage of buy-one-get-one-half-off sales and similar discounts — not by buying all that you can carry out of the store, but by clueing in your fashion-forward friends. If you're both craving a new pair of winter boots, hit the sales together and take advantage of the special deals.
7. Befriend the salesgirl at your favorite shopping hot spots. You don't have to friend her on Facebook, just make an effort to say hello to her when you're shopping, ask for her opinion on something you're trying on, and make sure you jump on her line when she's at the register. Be a familiar and friendly face, and she might give you a heads-up on sales or ring up a discount code for you once in a while.
8. Hit the stores on a weekday to make sure you get a good selection. Thursdays are ideal — you'll likely be able to take advantage of weekend sales while still having a big selection to choose from. If you go later in the weekend, your favorite stores are more likely to be picked over.
9. Get the best deals by stocking up on seasonal clothing right as the season is ending. Scour sale racks for short sleeves in November, sweaters in April, and bikinis in September.
10. We all have that one store that impairs our shopping judgment. Force yourself to stick to your budget and prevent impulsive shopping sprees — load up a store gift card with how much you can spend and leave your credit cards at home.
11. Thrift shops can be just as expensive as pricey boutiques, if not more so. But your friends' closets can be free. Organize a clothing swap with your chicest pals. Not the same dress or shoe size? Swap accessories — new scarves, headbands, bags, and costume jewelry are great ways to freshen up your style.