1. most retail shops will run promotions with up to 30% - 50% off merchandise at some point during the year, be sure to sign up for your favorite store emails so you don't miss the big sales.
2. sign up and shop with ebates - you'll get cash back just for shopping at your favorite stores (up to 12%). it's a free and easy service to use, i've been a member since 2011.
3. before placing your order, check sites like RetailMeNot.com for promo codes
4. POACH IT! this is my favorite trick... sign up for this (free) service and when you find an item you love "poach it" and you'll receive an email when it goes on sale. you can also track the price of an item over time, so you can see how low the sale price has gone in the past.
5. RENT the RUNWAY. rent your next dress instead of buying it - it's a fun way to wear expensive dresses for a low rental fee (AND you get two sizes for every order, so you don't have to worry about fit). read more about my rent the runway experience.