My first suggestion would be to read Three Haute Mamas! lol!! No seriously, we try to showcase things that we know will give you mad Haute Style! You don't need to own all the newest fashion trends but knowing which items are all the rage you can narrow down to your budget as well as what suits your personality or body type.
Next, shop your closet. Look at what you have, purge what you don't wear and make notes to what you need. I did this the other day and found that I would love a leather jacket, wanted some trendy leather leggings and thought that a sequin top would look great with that outfit.
Off to the Mall I went. When I got there I walked into Macy's and went right up to the sales girl (yes believe it or not they know the store and are paid to help you) I asked her where her leather leggings were. She pointed to the department that had them and whallah! I grabbed a pair to try on and... SOLD! In that same department was a great sequin tank top! SCORE! I looked around on my own at a few leather jackets but they were a bit to pricey for my budget. I knew from experience that Forever 21 always has something like that and usually for under $30! When I got to the store again I asked the girl where her leather jackets were, she pointed me in the right direction and I found my Jacket!
I got my entire outfit in under 40 minutes!
Another trick I learned is surfing the internet. Sometimes you can't wait 5+ business days to receive a purchase online but you can find what you like, print it out and bring it to the store. If the store is sold out they might have something similar to what you originally wanted. All this saves you headaches and time! and when reading your favorite fashion magazine, tear out what items you like and stuff them in an envelope and put it in your purse. Next time you are in the store ask a sales person if they have anything in that style. Having a picture is very helpful!
Well that concludes my shopping 101! And again, read Three Haute Mamas for daily tips on how to get the most haute for your buck!