One area in your budget that can really get out of hand is your clothing. From shoes to accessories, it can all add up if you aren’t careful.
If you want to save money on clothing, here are 8 things you should do before you buy new clothes:
1. Forget about what other people think.
If you’re a slave to fashion, you’ll be a slave to debt. Ignore the fashion trends and stick to classic items that never go out of style. If you’re not worrying about the latest trends, you won’t feel the need to spend money on clothing constantly. Look for clothing that makes you feel good about yourself. Finding your own style is almost always less expensive than following what the fashion mags say.
2. Check your closet.
How many times have you found a great shirt on clearance and then returned home to find one almost exactly like it hanging in your closet? Save yourself some time and money by shopping your closet first. Odds are good that you have items in there that you haven’t even worn. Dig deep and bring those lesser worn items into circulation. Mix and match what you own in new ways and you won’t need to spend a dime on new clothing.
3. Look for secondhand items first.
You can save a fortune by looking for clothing items secondhand. Shop thrift shops, consignment boutiques, Craigslist, Facebook, and garage sales for clothing bargains. Hold a clothing swap with your friends and trade your cast-offs for new duds.
4. Check the clearance racks and look for deals.
You can find some fantastic bargains when you shop the clearance racks at your favorite stores. My favorite sales are the end-of-season clearance sales when stores offer deep discounts on this season’s items to make room for the next. Look for coupon codes when shopping online. In addition, sign up for store e-mails, mailing lists, and store reward programs to learn about special discounts and coupons to make a good deal even better. One of my favorites is JCPenney’s Rewards, where I am frequently awarded $10 off a $10 purchase coupons. I’ve gotten some great clothing for just pennies.
5. Think outside your department.
We often get caught up in shopping the departments that match our gender or age. But you may be able to find some great deals on clothing in other departments. For example, a petite friend of mine often shops in the junior or girls section for some clothing items. Another friend of mine has tiny feet and can find kids’ sneakers at a fraction of the cost of women’s. Women may find that men’s plain t-shirts and socks are cheaper and last longer than similar items in the women’s section. I once found a fun t-shirt in the kids’ section on clearance that I love for just $3. You can save a lot of money just by shopping the entire store.
6. Pay attention to the care and construction of clothing.
A great deal on new article of clothing isn’t a deal if it requires dry cleaning or is poorly made. Pay attention to the durability of the fabric, how the garment is sewed and what types of fasteners it has. Pay attention to whether the item has to be dry cleaned, hand-washed or ironed. Skip the clothing that doesn’t seem like it will withstand much washing or has expensive care requirements.
7. Try it on.
You may think you know exactly what size you wear, but every item of clothing fits differently. And if you’re buying secondhand, it may have shrunk (or stretched out) over time. Try the clothing on and make sure it fits right and feels good. If it doesn’t don’t buy it, even it if it is a good deal, because it will just end up languishing in the back of your closet.
And stop buying clothes in the size you wish you were! It’s good to have goals, but it’s wasteful to buy things you can’t wear right now.
8. Consider the cost per wear.
Before you make that purchase, consider how often you are planning to wear the item. Then divide the item’s price by the number of times you will wear it. If it will cost you $25 every time you plan to wear that new dress, it may make more sense to find something less expensive (or even rent it!). But if you find a piece on sale that you truly love and you will wear constantly, the cost per wear makes it totally worth the investment.
You can be comfortable and fashionable on a budget. But if you really want to save money, you need to put a bit of thought into each and every clothing purchase. The more intentionally you shop, the more you’ll save.
And saving money always looks good.