How-To: Shop a Sale Like a Pro

Sale signs are popping up like mushrooms these days. So tempting, and yet so treacherous. We asked Lilliana Vazquez, accessories designer, style coordinator for Maxx New York and fashion blogger for, for her tips on navigating the clearance rack. Here's what she said:

1. Make a list and stick to it!

"Start your shopping list by looking at magazines to help you find pics of new looks that you might want to try," advises Vazquez. "Next write down the looks you want and list out all their components, ie. shoes, accessories. Before you make the shopping list, check your closet to see what you already own that could work for the look, and be creative. List the items that were missing and commit to buying only those."

2. Shop department stores for the biggest markdowns.

"I know department stores seem like a place your grandmother goes to find her Sunday church outfit," says Vazquez, "but these big retailers are also the most aggresive when it comes to sales, discounting merchandise up to 75 percent off if it's not selling. They constantly receive new shipments and have to move their old inventory. Many stores also allow you to bundle discounts so your new shoes that were 40 percent off the original price are now an additional 20% off of that. Check online as well for free shipping and web exclusive discounts."

3. You better shop around.

"Try mobile search tools like Frucall or Scanbuy Shopper to determine whether you're looking at the best deal in town without even leaving the store," says Vazquez. "Send a text message with info about the product you want and they will run an online search to hunt down the best available price and text back the results."

4. Knock out the clearance rack first.

"I know it's tempting to look at new merchandise," says Vazquez, "but if you start with the clearance stuff, you're likely to spend less money and not get distracted by shiny new things you probably don't even need."

5. Prepare for packed dressing rooms at sample sales.

Get focused. Get their early. Bring only the amount of cash you are willing to spend. Wear leggings and a tank top so it's easy to try on clothes without access to a usually crowded dressing room.