1. Shop on Weekdays
Most stores have lower traffic on Tuesdays and Wednesdays which means that the associates will be much more able and willing to help you out. A little personal attention can go a long way, especially if they are searching the back room to find you a deal. You don't even need to play hooky- go directly after work, take a long lunch break or go after a morning visit to the doctor.
2. Sign up for Emails
Emails will let you know about new markdowns and sales so that you never have to pay full price for the items you want. If you are not a big shopper, have those emails sent to a spam email account and before you go on a big shopping trip, you can check what the deals are.
3. Get in a client book
If you were helped by a fantastic associate who really seemed to understand what you were looking for, ask if you could be added to their client book. Give them your contact info, your clothing sizes, what you are looking for and ask them to call you if they see pieces you would like. This could be as simple as finding out when the suiting you were you looking at goes on sale. They know the product better than anyone so take advantage of their expertise. Just make sure you let them know what is the best time to call- no one likes to cold call so they will be more willing to keep you in the loop if they know they aren't interrupting.
4. Do a Try On Session
If you have a weekday off, go to your local mall and do a try on session in all of your favorite stores. Bring a note pad and write down what styles fit you best and the size. Most brands have several fits of pants so ask an associate to show you them all so you can find what works for you. Once you have found your size and taken notes about what styles work for your body, you will be ready to confidently shop online and take advantage of the special deals that are promoted there.
5. Know What is in Your Closet
You will shop smarter if you know what pieces you already have to pair back to. A $20 blouse is only a deal if you have something to wear it with, not if you have to spend an additional $200 to make it an outfit. Every couple months or before a major shopping trip, take 20 minutes and browse through your own closet to see what pieces you may have forgotten about.
I have attached my version of a try on session guide as a model. Feel free to download and use this copy or design your own based on your needs.