6 Ways to Save Money on Clothing
Frugal Clothing Budgeting Tricks
Do you have enough clothing? If you’re a woman, you probably have more than enough.
Several years ago, I knew I had way too much stuff—there were items stuffed in every closet, items that I didn't even wear. Some of these items are waiting for the day that I lose twenty pounds (the thinking is that if I want to hold onto this dream, I have to hold onto these unworn clothes (and I really mustn’t let myself buy any more dream clothing until I lose that twenty pounds)).
In my efforts to find ways to cut costs, I decided that I don't really need to buy clothes. If I do happen to need something, I shop strategically, and find other creative ways to stick to a budget. If you're spending too much on clothing and want to drastically cut costs, read on.
How to Drastically Cut Your Clothing Budget
- Simply stop buying clothes . . . or only buy on-sale or used items.
- Buy at garage sales, where you can often get the best deals.
- Organize a clothing swap party, where a bunch of people come to exchange old or unused items.
- Wear your clothes until they wear out, and don't replace items that don't never do.
- Don't over-wash your clothing (and use other clothing-maintenance tricks).
- Break the habit of shopping recreationally (see tips for how to do this below!).
Below, you'll also find tips for men who want to cut their clothing budget, too.
1. Buy Clothes on Sale . . . or Not at All!
I buy clothes only on sale, usually at discount stores. Shopping for clothing in “real” stores is rare for me, unless it’s a resale shop. I hit the sales racks and buy only sale items that I actually need: no impulse buys and no trendy items that won’t even be in style the following year. Look for smart buys—a pair of pants, a blouse, or jacket that can be mixed and matched with the items of clothing you already own to build outfits that fit your lifestyle.
Resale shops can save you a lot of cash. I don't care about name brands, but I've noticed that resale stores carry lots of big brands. You can find shoes, purses, belts, jewelry, and other accessories at a fraction of their original price.
One of my favorite finds was a furry brown winter coat with black fuzzy trim. It looks quite retro, which seems to always be in style. I still get compliments on it. And it cost only $10!
2. Buy Clothing at Yard Sales and Garage Sales
I can always find nice items at garage sales during the summer. I bought my best black jacket at a garage sale for $1. It’s in excellent shape, and co-workers have called it a classic for all time. For one buck, I have a classic!
Garage and yard sales often have a large collection of clothing items, from dressy to casual. If you just need t-shirts for down time, why pay $10-20 (or more) at a department store when you can get one for 25¢ to $1 at a garage sale? When you get used to these kind of prices, even a t-shirt marked down to $5 at a department store sounds too pricey.
If you have children, how can you even afford to buy them full-priced clothing when they grow so fast? I see new or nearly new baby, toddler, and clothes for older children at garage sales, as children grow out of their clothes quickly. If you're shopping for several people in the family, you can save a bundle.
3. Organize Clothing Swap Parties!
Guests bring clothing and accessories, pile it all up on the floor, and have fun going through each other’s stuff and taking home clothes that are “new” to them.
I do have a few friends that I've passed clothes back and forth with. It's a cheap—and sometimes even free—way to get something new into your wardrobe. See the video for basic tips on organizing a swap party.
How to Throw a Clothing Swap Party
4. Wear Your Clothes Out
If you do get sick to death of your wardrobe, organize a clothing exchange or have a garage sale. Or wear your clothing until it no longer looks good. Keep wearing your old favorites and think about all the money you are saving.
Outerwear can last many years, and classic garments can be worn until they're nearly threadbare. I've had socks last for over ten years...a little faded, but not yet holey! Same thing with the undies. How often do other people see them, anyway? Okay, that question may be too personal. If yours are seen often, you might want to invest in something attractive. Otherwise, why not wear them until they lose their elastic?
5. Only Wash Clothes When They're Dirty
Dresses and skirts can usually be worn several times before they get dirty. If you sweat, shirts may have to be washed every time, but don’t just automatically assume an item needs to be washed every time it is worn. Do the sniff test. Your clothes will last longer without the wear-and-tear of the washing machines, saving you money in the long run.
6. Don't Go Shopping Just for Fun: Don't Shop as a Pastime
I know people who put aside money every month just for shopping, just as someone might put aside money for their grocery budget. If you’re serious about saving money, shopping for fun is out of the question.
I don’t like to shop much anymore. But when I was in my 20s, I did enjoy looking for a new dress, some earrings, or maybe a knick-knack for my apartment. Looking back, I think that was more about the excitement of being on my own and having my own money, whatever paltry sum it might be. As the years pass and the reality of bills sinks in, my perception of shopping has drastically changed.
If you're truly wanting to drastically cut back on clothing costs, take a look at what you have and make a list before you purchase new items. Then, only go shopping when you are looking for a particular item!
Clothing Budget Tips for Men
Men might not read articles about saving money on clothing as women might, but the same principles do apply.
- Maintain a simple wardrobe. This might be easier for a guy, since men have fewer garments to choose from.
- For men, buy a few outfits that can be mixed and matched: Jeans can be combined with several T-shirts or long-sleeved shirts, a couple of basic slacks with a few dressy shirts.
- If suits are needed, look in used clothing stores first. If you must buy new, make them last.
- If you must buy something new, take good care of it. Make it last.