When I was in high school, I loved to shop at Contempo Casuals. I would save my allowance and splurge on a new outfit for $30, complete with shoes. Either I'm 145 years old, or times really have changed, because it seems nearly impossible to get out of a store without spending at least $100. I took up the subject with Dana Oliver, our beauty editor here at HuffPost Style. Dana is a shopping expert -- she knows her retailers, and she visits them often. Dana regales me with tales about how much -- or how little, actually -- she spends on clothes and accessories. With the end-of-season sales in full swing, I challenged her to a sale shopping showdown, to see which of us could spend the least amount of money and come up with the most merch. We hit our favorite haunts -- Zara, H&M, J. Crew, Gap and more -- to see how little we could spend.
We took away three big lessons from this challenge. Firstly, it's important to be patient and wait for the sales. We all have our favorite stores and brands; get to know their sale schedules. Secondly, follow the sales online. There are online tools and services that will alert you when your favorite brands and items go on sale. For example, we love Shop Style and Hukkster. Lastly, make friends with sales associates. They'll tip you off to which locations have the best stuff, plus you can get a lead on when to expect sales before the public descends upon the stores.
Check out the slideshow below to see what we came up with. And tell us in the comments if you have sale-shopping secrets!