6 Ways to Save Money on Clothing - ToughNickel - Money
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6 Ways to Save Money on Clothing

I like to tackle home projects myself and write about tips for other enthusiastic DIYers.

Does anyone really need more clothes?

Does anyone really need more clothes?

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

  1. Simply stop buying clothes . . . or only buy on-sale or used items.
  2. Buy at garage sales, where you can often get the best deals.
  3. Organize a clothing swap party, where a bunch of people come to exchange old or unused items.
  4. Wear your clothes until they wear out, and don't replace items that don't never do.
  5. Don't over-wash your clothing (and use other clothing-maintenance tricks).
  6. 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.

Hand-washing, hand-mending, and using clothes gently are all great ways to make clothes last longer.

Hand-washing, hand-mending, and using clothes gently are all great ways to make clothes last longer.

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.

Comments

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on July 14, 2013:

tillsontitan--Some of my friends and family seem to think I'm a freak, too, for not buying something that they think I need or rushing out to get the latest (or even the oldest) iPhone. LOL. Being thrifty helps me to get what I truly want in the long run--not just things but peace of mind. Thanks for the comments.

Mary Craig from New York on July 10, 2013:

My kids laugh at me because I only buy things that are on sale or better yet clearance. They also laugh at me because I have clothes older than they are....hmm, my kids laugh at me a lot ;)

Seriously, being thrifty and careful with your money can surely start with clothes that were made to last. Great hub!

Voted up, useful, and interesting.

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on August 27, 2012:

dianetrotter--You're welcome!

G. Diane Nelson Trotter from Fontana on August 25, 2012:

Thank you Victoria!

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on August 25, 2012:

dianetrotter--You got the best of all worlds--selling your clothes, buying cheap clothes, and donating the rest for a tax deduction. Smart!

G. Diane Nelson Trotter from Fontana on August 23, 2012:

My closet was packed with clothes. I took out things I hadn't worn for at least a year. I participated in a block yard sale and got about $25 but purchased a couple of things so I netted $21. I took everything else to Goodwill after taking pictures. I will be able to get a sizable deduction on my taxes by using It's Deductible.

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on August 23, 2012:

True, Anjo, but so few have discipline--or even want it when it comes to clothes shopping, perhaps! :-)

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on August 23, 2012:

Made, well that's good that you at least look before you pay. LOL!

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on August 23, 2012:

Uh, yes, UTURN, people sharing--a good thing!

idigwebistes--Glad you appreciate garage sales, too! Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

Anjo Bacarisas II from Cagayan de Oro, Philippines on August 23, 2012:

great tips.. proper discipline is the most important among all :)

Madeleine Salin from Finland on August 23, 2012:

I have to take a look at the price before I pay, and it may hurt a little sometimes and it makes a big hole in my wallet. Lol!

idigwebsites from United States on August 23, 2012:

Nice hub, victoria. garage sales is like the end of the rainbow for me and for most practical people out there. Nice read and its very useful for me.

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on August 23, 2012:

vibesites--I totally agree! Thanks!

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on August 22, 2012:

iguidenetwork--That's great that you wear clothes until they wear out. So many people don't! Thanks for the comment.

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on August 22, 2012:

Yes, great thinking, Felicia! Exactly!

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on August 22, 2012:

Made--Don't look at the price??? Wow, I've never heard of that. LOL. Sounds like you do great, though. Thanks for reading, for the input, and for sharing!!

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on August 22, 2012:

Glimmer Twin--I don't like to shop, so that helps me. It would be a lot harder i I did. Thanks for the comments!

UTURN HUBPAGES on August 22, 2012:

NICE TO SEE PEOPLE ARE SHARING.

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on August 22, 2012:

mary615--Hey, it's thrifty! No need to pay top dollar. I don't like to shop for clothes, either! Thanks for the read and vote up.

Love the pic of your dogs!

vibesites from United States on August 22, 2012:

Thank God for garage sales! One of the best places to find different kinds of apparel at lower prices. Thanks for the great hub! :)

iguidenetwork from Austin, TX on August 22, 2012:

Very cool ideas! I usually wear clothes over and over again until they wear out and no longer useful, but for now as long as the damages are quite minor, hand-sewing them wouldn't hurt. Fantastic hub! :)

Felicia Vasquez from New Mexico on August 22, 2012:

some very good ideas :O) one of my favorite ways to save is to buy end of the season clothes. you can buy racks and racks for as little as bucks! Then when you fill up your closet with new ones sell your old ones or donate them :O)

Madeleine Salin from Finland on August 22, 2012:

Great and useful hub! I always buy clothes on sale - mostly clothes I or my children need. Sometimes I don't look at the price if I know it's something I'm going to wear often. I don't buy really expensive clothes.

The most expensive clothes to buy are winter clothes and shoes for my children. They have to be warm in this cold climate, and new clothes and shoes are the best. In a couple of months it's time for that again. I wear the same winter jacket for years, but I have a couple. I have some really warm winter shoes that I bought last year and I'll probably use them for years too.

Sometimes I buy clothes for my children from second hand stores. People spend too much money on things they don't need. I really liked this hub. Voted up and I'm sharing it too!

Claudia Mitchell on August 22, 2012:

Great tips, but I love to go shopping just for fun. I think it might be too hard for me to give that up. Of course I'm usually deterred because my daughter comes with me and she hates to shop. Thanks for an interesting hub.

Mary Hyatt from Florida on August 21, 2012:

I agree with you wholeheartedly! I am cheap...I like to call it thrifty. I'd never pay top dollar for clothes, even if I could afford to. It's much more fun to shop for bargains. I hate clothes shopping anyway....

Great read. I voted this UP, etc

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on August 21, 2012:

Hey, Effer, you're a non-shopper after my own heart! :-) Hope you saw the hub after i revised it, adding the awful pic of my closet, subtitles. It was one of my early hubs. Glad you like! I don't go to retail stores much either. Mall? What mall? We have a mall? heehee :-)

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on August 21, 2012:

Julie--Thanks for the input! why wash clothes if they aren't dirty!!

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on August 21, 2012:

Wesman--You are one lucky dude! For one, for gaining no weight since high school and two, for everyone giving you clothes! That's cool. Really cool!

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on August 21, 2012:

Thanks, Rustic! Glad you can relate. Right now I'm on a major exercise plan to trim down to get into some of my old clothes that are still good and that I like. I don't want to buy new stuff. I need to lose weight in order to save money. How's that for motivation! Thanks for the thumbs up and sharing!

Suzie from Carson City on August 21, 2012:

I love it when I get to catch a hub RE-run!! There you go again...my favorite topic. Saving money and being budget-minded! Of course you know I'm going to tell you that I'm ALL OVER THIS CLOTHES thing!!! I don't think I've purchased one item of clothing from a straight-up retail store in the past 10 years!! Great hub GF...You are a Thrifty-Nifty lady!! UP+++

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on August 21, 2012:

CC--I never pay full price for books either. We can get them too cheap elsewhere. And clothing, too! Yep, gotta tighten up the budget when you're self-employed! I think it's a pretty cool challenge (most of the time!) Thanks, girl!

Blurter of Indiscretions from Clinton CT on August 21, 2012:

I really liked this! I am constantly trying to save money on clothes, and I don't wash laundry every day either. It's too hard on the clothes. Great job :)

Wesman Todd Shaw from Kaufman, Texas on August 21, 2012:

Oh I totally read an article about saving money on clothing!!!!!!!!!

This is going to sound or make me appear as immature and spoiled as I really am....but I never spend money on clothing, I don't have to for a few reasons.

I ain't gained or kept on a pound since high school, or gotten any taller, and...I still wear some of THOSE old clothes too. I'm not Mr. spoiled by women...not really, but...My mother is forever buying me clothes, and...heck I just wear whatever she buys.

Then my brother and sister n law, sister, etc...tend to either buy me clothes, or just when seeing something old, or whatever "Todd can wear that," and I do.

I also hardly ever throw anything away....but I keep on and keep on finding a lot of good stuff that ought to be given to the local charity places - and so we pack it up and take it...and I forever have too much to wear still.

I swear...I buy none of this stuff, but it keeps accumulating. I'm pretty thankful.

I do have an all out fetish for boots and jackets - just gotta have em.

I don't know why people - even random male friends....just wind up giving me clothes, but that happens too.

Liz Rayen from California on August 21, 2012:

ok..miss Vicki.. so when did you right this hub about me?? LOL I can so relate to all of this. The girls I used to work with had swap parties all the time. I could never attend due to my schedule, but it sounded like a lot of fun. One of the things I have started doing is to go through my clothes that are old or don't fit any longer and revise them. Turning the tops of my old jeans into the tops of skirts or summer tops. A lot of fun and I don't have to buy anything! woo hoo! Fabulous hub my dear! Thumbs up and shared! :)

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on August 21, 2012:

kelley! I haven't had a swapping party yet, but my friend tells me it's great fun. Thanks!

Cynthia Calhoun from Western NC on August 21, 2012:

$5.00 for a t-shirt!? Ridiculous. I'll pay a dollar, thank you very much! Hehe.

Funny, I was just at the Goodwill Outlet today and I was picking up books - there are so many reference books that people throw out that are NEW! I got like 20 books - Joyce Carol Oates, grammar books, books on herbs, anthropology texts - for 10 bucks. Between the Goodwill outlet, garage sales and library, I try not to buy books.

Why did I go off on a tangent about buying books!? This is a clothing hub. OH! It's because at the outlet, they have ZILLIONS of pieces of clothing for pennies on the dollar. I find so many things that way. Now, I need to de-clutter. Perhaps I should sell some of this stuff at the flea market. Hehe. Thanks for sharing this. Clothing is also NOT in my budget.

kelleyward on August 21, 2012:

Great tips Victoria! Thanks for sharing these. Never heard of a clothes swapping party but it sounds like a great idea! voted up and shared. Kelley

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on May 29, 2012:

jasmith--That is certainly how I buy clothing these days. I stay away from regular retail stores. Thanks for the input!

Jen Smith from UK on May 27, 2012:

Great advice Victoria - particularly about staying away from the shops! That one thing has made a huge difference to me. :) These days I mostly buy clothes (if I need them) from charity shops or on sale - I've got some great clothes this way. I also like fairly simple, classic styles anyway but I also find that means most things mix and match well too.

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on February 29, 2012:

Thanks, Alecia. I'm glad you appreciate the hub. I never cared about name brand clothing either.

Alecia Murphy from Wilmington, North Carolina on February 29, 2012:

I do a lot of these tips as well, mainly because I never thought that name brand clothing did anything but cost me a lot of money. I am glad though that I have people to swap clothes with instead of trying to hunt for everything. Great, useful hub!

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on February 01, 2012:

alocsin--Good for you for already doing these things! And thanks for the votes!

Aurelio Locsin from Orange County, CA on January 31, 2012:

I already do most of this, but thanks for pointing this options out for those who want to save money. Voting this Up and Useful.

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on September 14, 2011:

Awesome, JamaGenee. Isn't it great to get compliments like that? For quality clothing at bargain prices, no less. I can't imagine paying high prices for any kind of clothing. Thanks for your comments!

Joanna McKenna from Central Oklahoma on September 14, 2011:

I once found an off-white wool suit from Neiman-Marcus for around $5 at Goodwill that had been custom made (according to the label) for someone exactly my size and height. Wore it on special occasions for years and always received compliments!

My kids' "starting school" clothes came from yard sales in really nice neighborhoods. Hardly-worn designer label clothes for pennies! When the kids complained that the yard sale clothes weren't brand new, I'd point out that once they'd been worn/washed the first time, the clothes their richer classmates wore weren't new anymore either! ;D

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on September 07, 2011:

Thanks, friend! I love, love, love yard sales and find all kinds of clothes! Thanks for the comments!

Linda Bilyeu from Orlando, FL on September 06, 2011:

My kinda hub! I am a yard sale fanatic and it's always so much fun to find brand new or nearly new clothing for cheap! My granddaughter (5 yrs old) gets tons of clothes in one shot from one sale! Yay! We always visit thrift stores also but I rarely find anything for myself. Super hub my friend! :))

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on September 06, 2011:

Carrie...just throw a swap party with the friends whose clothes you like! It would be fun...especially with wine and hors d'oeuvres!

carriethomson from United Kingdom on September 06, 2011:

Ummm very intresting clothes swapping is a great idea!! though you ought to choose whos clothes you wont mind wearing and swap only with them but need to try out!! it would be fun because women even if they have two wardrobes full of clothes they seem to never have enough!! and ya they always want what their friend has. so swapping with a friend can be absolutely great!!

carrie

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on September 05, 2011:

JT--Good ideas. I've also bought clothing off eBay.

Movie Master--I'm thinking the swap party would be a blast!

AliciaC--Thanks! I live by my ideas! I really spend very little on clothing.

Thanks to all for reading and commenting!

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on September 02, 2011:

Another useful hub about saving money, Victoria. I buy my clothes when they are on sale, but I should follow some of your other suggestions. You have some good ideas!

Movie Master from United Kingdom on September 02, 2011:

Hi Victoria, excellent advice, I only buy clothes that are on sale, I love to find a bargain!

A clothing swap party is a great idea, I'm really keen on organising one of those!

Many thanks for sharing.

Jt Walters on September 02, 2011:

I shop out of Season like this month I will buy Summer things for my son knowing it is all about the Fall and back to school sales are over. I also buy in bulk inadvance. If I can get him a nice Polo that is two sizes two big for $5 I get it in advance.

Ebay is also a great resource for used close. I would have never thought about it but my borther buys his clothes off of Ebay.

Great Hub!!

JT

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on September 02, 2011:

Field-of-Flowers: I agree! I love finding a bargain. I find if challenging and fun! A $2,500 purse! Wow! If you get in a bind, you could probably sell it on ebay!

Yes, Arlene, a crying shame! Thanks for stopping by, Deborah-Diane!

Fennelseed, I love what you said about your daughter. That speaks volumes about her. I'm humbled by what you said about my hub and my other ones. That means a lot.

LadyRain--good to see you! I need to lose that 20 lbs and I will have a new wardrobe to choose from. Unfortunately, I have not stayed the same size. A few pounds have crept up every year. Good for you!

lady rain from Australia on September 01, 2011:

I have not shopped for clothes for a long time eversince I worked from home. Also, I have been the same size for many years so I don't have any excuses to change my wardrobe.

I like the part where you mentioned only wash dirty clothing when they start to stink, hahaha, that is exactly what I am doing and that saves a lot of water too!

Annie Fenn from Australia on September 01, 2011:

Very valuable advice in this excellent hub. Advertising is so clever; it works its way into our psyche. A shopping mall here has it's slogan as "Must Haves" implying that consumers must have the items that it advertises. Advertising is every which way we look, it brainwashes us into thinking that we need to have the latest look, the latest gadget, the latest technology - all the while bleeding us of our hard earned dollars.

Your hub in contrast speaks of simplicity and of not being tempted to shop for the sake of shopping.

My youngest daughter worked in a clothing chain for a while. She found the temptation to say to customers "Do you really need this?" too overwhelming and didn't stay long. My daughter always looks wonderful, yet her clothes are mostly pre-loved items that she has picked up for a song at charity shops.

I will come back to this hub and your others many times as they are full of wisdom. Your advice is real and practicable and contrasts greatly to the advertising of the greed driven commercial world.

All my votes to you.

Deborah-Diane from Orange County, California on September 01, 2011:

I love thrift stores and big sales, too! Great suggestions!

Arlene V. Poma on September 01, 2011:

Voted up, useful and interesting. I am retired, and I am delighted to know that clothing is not in my Top Ten when it comes to parting with my pension money. I can see if a person is working, but at the same time, it is so much more fun to go hunting for bargains. When I do buy clothing from a thrift store, and only from a thrift store (or swapped or handed down to me for free), it always gets compliments and is usually under five bucks. I feel sorry for anyone who has to have clothing purchased from an expensive retail clothing store at full price. Now, that's a crying shame!

Field-Of-Flowers from Midwest, USA on September 01, 2011:

I absolutely love thrift stores and clearance racks at department stores! I have gotten such great deals over the years. I've even been told that I'm a sharp dresser and that I have cute clothes. I tell them that I shop at only the high class expensive stores (little do they know it's a thrift store or Goodwill!) lol

The best deal I've ever gotten was a Prada purse at Goodwill. I saw it hanging among all of the other purses. I could hardly believe my eyes when I saw it... there at Goodwill!! Of course, I didn't hesitate on buying it. I paid $4.99 for it. When I got home, I looked it up to see what it was worth. To my delight and a bit of a shock... it is worth $2,500.00!! I highly doubt I'll ever be able to top this deal again. This was a once-in-a-lifetime. I will keep looking for deals though. Why pay retail price when you can get it for just a fraction of the cost? 'Bargain hunter' should be my middle name! lol

Have a great day... and keep hitting those clearance racks! :-)

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