Sold Out: Shopping Secrets From A Recovering Stylist & Shopaholic

'Tis the season.

The J.Crew Gift Guide arrived in yesterday's mail.

You can probably pick up a copy in any of their stores at this point, but I think there's something extra special about getting a copy delivered to your door. 

Over coffee, I made a wish list of everything I had to have. In collage form. (I heart J.Crew and all the collage apps I just added to my new I-Phone last week.)

My top picks from the Dec 2014 J.Crew Gift Guide

My top picks from the Dec 2014 J.Crew Gift Guide

Shopping Secret #1: Shop for your own gifts (especially when it comes to clothing) and you'll never be disappointed. Lost count of how many men I'd see (in my retail days) run in on Dec 24th and grab anything, just so they'd have something under the tree for wives or gf's - sometimes both - to unwrap.

Shopping Secret #2: Make a wish list or collage on your phone before you go shopping. And stick to it. That way you don't get sidetracked and get home with bags of stuff you don't need. #BeenThere #DoneThat 

For the record, I actually spotted the high heeled animal print booties online last weekend and placed an order for them then, only to receive a message saying I was on a wait list and the expected ship date was something like mid January 2015. Oy. So much for wearing those for Christmas and New Year's.

Shopping Secret #3: Animal print never goes out of style. Ever. But it does sell out.

With the sting of that still fresh in my mind, I drove over to my neighborhood J.Crew, expecting to see at least some of what was in the catalog, errrr, gift guide in store. Didn't happen. Grrrrrr. No, they definitely did NOT have any of my top picks in stock. One word - Irksome. Call me kooky, but whenever possible, I still prefer to see, touch and try on shoes and clothes before buying. 

Later, I went back online to order the rest of the stuff on my wish list. Mostly because (I found out) it was the last day of their 30% off full price promo. Such a good deal!

Shopping Secret #4: When all else fails, buy online and return in store. Just make sure it's returnable and not a final sale, as clearance stuff can sometimes be. 

After finding the pleated faux leather skirt, I saw that it was selling out. Fast! Sizes 0 and 2 were already gone. I chose the 4 and ripped the (J.Crew) card out of my wallet.  

True Story: I've never placed an online order so frantically in my entire life, especially because after I clicked on size 4, a pop up message appeared telling me that there were only a few left. 

Panic mode. 

Forget those red pointy toe kitten heels (my 2nd choice to wear for Christmas) and the Birkenstocks (in case I travel anywhere warm for New Year's) - That skirt was now at the top of my list. 

Shopping Secret #5: Whenever you see a faux leather skirt from J.Crew for only $148, buy it!!!

Within a minute or 2 ("They" work fast there.), a confirmation email popped up, saying that "they" were working on filling my order. You know what that means, right?

There's absolutely no bleeping guarantee I'm getting that skirt. 

So, if you're on the fence and undecided about buying something right now, I say go for it. Otherwise, you might go back and find it's sold out. And if you come down with a nasty case of buyer's remorse, you can always return it. 

Shopping Secret #6: Just don't wear and return. They'll know. They always know.