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When it came to buying clothes in my twenties, Old Navy-Target sprees were enough to fill my wardrobe comfortably. But now that I'm a little older, a career woman and mom, I had to ask myself if I should still be dressing like I did a decade ago? It took some convincing, but I finally realized I needed to dress my age. So after my thirtieth birthday, I decided to forgo shops like Forever 21 and American Eagle in favor of stores that not only offered clothing that fit my body, but also made me feel like an adult.

Initially, I thought I had to spend more to get more. And I did. But I soon learned that I could marry my love for bargain hunting with my need for a solid wardrobe. I opted for no-iron blouses instead of screen-printed tees and slacks instead of Yoga sweats at my new favorite store, Coldwater Creek.

On its surface, Coldwater Creek is a bit pricey: $90 dresses and $100 blazers. Who can afford that? But with some savvy shopping skills, I've been able to save upwards of 70% each time I shop. Recently I even scored items for FREE!

Here are my money-saving secrets to scoring big at Coldwater Creek:

  • Combo Promotions: CWC online offers routine combo promotions. Get a certain percentage off merchandise and free shipping, or a certain dollar amount off merchandise with a free gift (like buy a cardi for $20 off, get a tank). Combo promotions are also routinely available at their online outlet. Wait for their best promotion of 50% off outlet prices with free shipping to get the deepest discounts.
  • Free Shipping Promotions: CWC runs free shipping promotions several times each month, so I never pay the nearly $10 advertised shipping cost. These promotions are announced online, or in advance through an e-mail subscription.
  • Rolling Rewards: This past month, CWC offered a free $10 coupon (no restrictions) with all shipped orders. So I bought a small item using a gift card and received my first $10 coupon. I then immediately used it on a discounted layerable tank that was priced at just under $10 during a free shipping promotion. Five days later, my tank arrived in the mail—with another $10 coupon! I continued this process 4 times, scoring items that were discounted to under $10 each time. What this means: each item was absolutely free! I ordered over $130 of regularly-priced merchandise and paid nothing out of pocket.
  • Cheap Outlet Gifts: With CWC, "cheap" does not necessarily mean "low-quality." Because their merchandise is on-trend and changes seasonally, outlet items are drastically reduced from their original prices. Under $10 items are always available; seed bead jewelry, cotton tees, scarfs, candles, and CDs are my favorite items to pick-up.
  • Reward Dollars for Loyalty: CWC rewards its customers. On the one-year anniversary of my first purchase, the company sent me an electronic coupon good for $20 off any purchase—no restrictions! I was able to treat myself to a fun top (on sale, of course!) for no cost whatsoever.  Happy anniversary to me!
  • Credit for Survey Completion: Some CWC customers get asked to participate in pre-season clothing surveys. I got chosen to preview outfits online for their Holiday 2011 collection last year—and got rewarded $10 for 15 minutes of my time. Money AND a clothing preview? Score
  • Remember the guarantee: Just as important as the merchandise is the backing. CWC's lifetime guarantee on merchandise ensures that if a zipper busts or a lining separates, I can return the product with no fuss. A guarantee like that means my initial investment is ensured for the life of the product!

For me, shopping at Coldwater Creek (mostly online) has been a fun way to update my wardrobe on a budget. Now I've got classy, adult clothing and jewelry that make me look and feel great—all bought at highly-discounted prices.

This has been a guest post by Audrey from Texas
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