7 Ways to Become a Smarter Shopper

By Mercedes Sanchez

In this economy using our Latina smarts is essential when hitting the department stores, boutiques or the mall. If you like pretty new things, here are seven tips to help you become a smarter shopper.

Stick to your budget

By the words of my girl Suze Orman: Live below your means, not within them. In other words, just because you can buy it all doesn't mean you should.

Trends come and go fast. So create a budget, invest in timeless pieces with only a handful of contemporary items for a wardrobe you can depend on for months to come.

See our top summer-must have items

Personalize your style

Stay true to yourself and find pieces that will enhance your personality-- not disguise it. If you want to update your look, be subtle in doing so. Try layering your jewelry or investing in a pair of pumps that will never be outdated.

Shop alone

For many, buying new clothes is a form of therapy. For others, it's a time to bond. In the midst of shopping bliss, it's easier to fall into the pressure of swiping that credit card more times than you should. I say, leave your girls at home and hit the stores solo. And remember to shop for what you need and not what you necessarily want.

Choose the right fit

Before anything, leave enough time to try it on. If you have any doubt about whether or not it's a good a fit, don't buy it. You want to invest in an item that's going to help you feel confident and proud of your body no matter how curvy or naturally thin you are. If there's any discomfort or hesitation, or if you're already making excuses while in the dressing room about how you can add a sweater to hide (or enhance) your butt- don't purchase it.

Christian Louboutin, indie labels and press on nails!

Plan ahead for designer items

Follow bloggers who write about sample sales and join sites like Shop It To Me, Aviesta and Ideeli who offer members designer items at discounted rates.

Prepare for special events

If you're planning to wear a long gown to a gala or wedding reception, hit the stores a few weeks early for a proper fitting. Take your shoes with you and put them on as you try on the gown in the store and during  alterations with the tailor. This prevents many potential problems that can arise moments before your big night.

Use social media

Finally, have some fun with your smart phone while shopping by posting (decent) photos from the dressing room for real time feedback from your friends and family. That way your girlfriends can still give their input- but from afar.

Making your own fashion rules

Tell us: What shopping techniques do you use when shopping?

Extra: Read what designer Carlos Campos says every woman should have in her closet