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33 Ways to Save Money on Clothes
Clothes only seem to be getting more expensive. But when you go for something cheap, it falls apart after a few wears. No need to max out your credit card trying to get the clothes you want – we’ve scoured the Internet for the best ways to save money on clothes, so you can find a middle ground between budget and style.
According to the latest report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American spends just over 3% of their annual household budget on apparel. That comes out to over $1,800 spent on clothes each year, on average. With that in mind, Debt.com offers this list of the Top 33 methods to save money on clothes:
Method 1: Thrifting
We are starting with the most obvious tip: don’t be afraid of thrift stores! You can find vintage stuff, modern pieces, or items that will look great with just a little bit of alteration, usually for less than $10.
Thrift stores aren’t just for clothes shopping. If you choose to donate your old clothes, get a receipt. This way you can itemize the donation on your taxes.
Method 2: Second-hand apps
Apps like Poshmark and ThredUp are like thrift stores you can visit from your phone. On Poshmark, people list items of clothing they don’t want anymore and you can interact with the sellers directly. Often, this means you can negotiate prices. ThredUp is a little different. The company handles the pricing and vending, and sellers just send in all the clothes they want to get rid of in a shipping bag that ThredUp provides for them. Both of these apps are great ways to buy (and sell) clothes.
Turn on notifications for these apps if you want to be sure not to miss any deals.
Method 3: Shop off-season
Retailers want to make the most money they can. We know, that’s not exactly a revolutionary thought. But when you think of it from this perspective, it makes sense that winter clothes are never actually on sale in winter and summer clothes are never discounted when it’s actually hot outside. Stores are going to charge you more when they know you need something. After a season is over, clothes for that type of weather go on sale so stores can get rid of excess inventory. Even though it may seem backward, buying clothing for winter in the summer and vice versa can save you a lot of money.
Some items that can be worn year-round, like t-shirts, won’t be discounted very much when seasons change. Look for things like swimsuits and puffer jackets that are very seasonal.
Method 4: Get on email lists
Some people see an inbox full of junk mail, but to you, it’s an inbox full of savings opportunities. Consumers on email lists are often the first ones to know about sales and special offers.
Set up a separate section or folder in your email inbox for offers and promotions. This way, your important personal or work emails won’t get lost.
Method 5: Shop online
Shopping in physical stores gives you a limited range of prices to choose from. Looking at online retailers means you can quickly and easily compare prices and find the best one for your budget
Shopping through sites like Ebates will give you cash back with every purchase.
Method 6: Sell what you don’t wear
Make some extra cash from the clothes cluttering up your closet. Use the apps in Method 2 or sell to a local consignment store to make some cash on the side, which frees up money for you to spend on new clothes.
The money you get from selling clothes doesn’t have to go back into clothes. If your budget is lacking somewhere else, use your earnings for that first.
Method 7: Search coupon sites
Good, old-fashioned coupons will always help you save. You can check out our coupon database here, or Google the store you want to shop followed by the word “coupons.”
Don’t feel like searching for coupons for hours on end? Try the Google Chrome plugin called Honey. It finds the best deals for you at checkout.
Method 8: Look for “machine washable” items OR dry-clean at home
Clothing maintenance is a big part of saving money on clothes. Buying clothes that are dry-clean only is counterproductive if you’re trying to save, and hand wash items can take up a lot of your time.
On the other hand, there are some effective methods for taking care of your dry-clean-only items without paying an arm and a leg. This list of dry-cleaning alternatives will keep your clothes fresh at a lower price. Some detergent/fabric softener companies like Woolite also make dryer sheets that have a dry-cleaning effect.
Always check the tags on the inside of a piece of clothing to see what the washing instructions are.
Method 9: Upcycle older pieces
Get crafty with clothes that aren’t in style or don’t fit anymore. YouTube and Pinterest are full of ideas for making over old shirt, pants, jeans, and more. Did you know you can make an old t-shirt into tank tops? Or a men’s button-down into a dress? The possibilities are endless.
This Pinterest board has over 1000 ways to upcycle clothes.
Method 10: Discount Stores
Discount stores like T.J. Maxx, Marshall’s, and Ross sell trendy clothes at lower prices than most department stores. Especially if you shop their sale racks or find gift cards using Method 18, you can get awesome deals.
Many of these stores include a “compare at” price on their tags to show you how much you are saving compared to the suggested retail price. These prices are often inflated to make their price look better, so don’t trust it too much.
Method 11: DIY Alterations
You don’t have to throw something out just because it doesn’t fit right anymore. There are some simple ways you can alter your clothes at home to make them last, with or without a sewing machine.
Method 12: Rent formalwear
When you have a formal event coming up, it’s tempting to go out and buy something special. Luckily, there are several sites and stores that you can rent clothing from. Renting is a wise choice for outfits like these, because you may only wear it once.
RentThe Runway.com is one of the most popular sites for renting designer clothing.
Method 13: Only buy what fits now
You may think you’ll look great in that dress after you lose 20 pounds, but don’t waste your money on something you can’t wear right now.
Make goals to buy the clothes once you get to your goal weight, don’t buy the clothes first and try to fit into them later. It will make weight loss feel even more rewarding.
If you hit a weight loss goal and need some extra cash, sell your larger-sized clothes. This will help you keep the weight off as you earn some extra cash.
Method 14: Stay away from the center of stores
Many clothing stores put their highest prices in the center of the store. Sale items are usually in the back or around the edges of the store. Flashy center displays are meant to draw you in, so you buy the more expensive stuff.
When you walk in, put on your blinders and head straight for the sale section.
Method 15: Use price-adjustment programs
Some stores will match prices at other stores or adjust prices if the item goes on sale within a certain amount of time after you buy it. Here is a list of some store policies you should know to save.
Don’t count on always being able to adjust prices later. Try to make sure you are getting the best price when you buy, so you don’t have to double back!
Method 16: Know your price codes
Some stores use certain numbers in their sale prices that indicate aspects of the sale. If you know these secret codes, you can navigate sales knowing exactly what kind of deal you’re getting.
The Cheapism blog has a list of 16 retailers and their sale pricing codes.
Method 17: Don’t trust outlet malls
Outlet malls can be just like the flash sales described in Method 23: tricky. Stores there will say they have the lowest prices to get you to buy, but you can never be too sure.
Really want an item at an outlet store but not sure if you’re actually getting a great deal? Use your phone to look it up online to see if you can find a better price.
Method 18: Get discounted gift cards
Believe it or not, some people just don’t want to use their gift cards. They sell them online at a deep discount and you can find them on sites like Gift Card Granny and Cardpool. This basically means you can get free money. Want to shop at your favorite store but there are no sales going on? Buy a $30 gift card for $25 and automatically save.
Don’t buy a gift card for somewhere you rarely shop just because it’s a great deal. Look specifically for cards you know you will use.
Method 19: If you want luxury, go for consignment
You don’t need to pay full price for designer clothes to look good. Check out local designer and vintage consignment shops to find unique clothes at prices you can actually afford.
Method 20: Care for your clothes
Learn what the fabric care symbols on your tags mean and make sure to follow those care recommendations. Store your clothes in a dry, clean place, and wash delicate items accordingly. The more you care for your clothes, the longer the will last and the less you will spend.
Don’t keep your plastic dry-cleaning bags. They can actually harm your clothes if you leave them in too long.
Don’t hang sweaters and knit fabrics. The weight of the clothing will cause it to stretch over time. Fold and store these items.
Method 21: Host a clothes swap
You probably aren’t the only one in your friend group who wants to update their closet without emptying their wallet. Plan a clothes swap party in which all of your friends bring the clothes they don’t want any more to trade with others. Then you can all get something new without spending a dime!
Make it a real party! Plan activities besides the swap and have people bring food and drinks.
Method 22: Don’t be a follower
Following trends is fun, but it means buying new clothes all the time. Even if you can get a trendy piece cheap at a fast-fashion store, it won’t be made to last. Spend some time building your own style and investing in classic pieces instead.
If you just can’t tear yourself away from looking through all the trends online, look at what’s in your closet before buying something new. You may be able to use Method 9 to be “in” this season without spending money.
Method 23: Skip the flash sales
Flash sales are tempting, but tricky. Often, the discounts aren’t really that great, they’re just hyped up to draw you in and make you think you’re getting a good deal. You’re smarter than that. Don’t be fooled!
Keep an eye on the shipping prices. They may be higher during flash sales, which basically cancels out your savings.
Method 24: Avoid buying things just because they are on sale
Low prices are enticing, but will you actually wear that sale item? If you buy something just because it’s on sale, you’re wasting money that could have been spent on a better addition to your closet.
Before you make an impulse purchase, put the item back on the rack and walk around for a bit. If you’re still thinking about it later, it may be worth getting. If you’re not so sure about it after a while, let it go.
Method 25: Think about the cost-per-wear
Say you are thinking about buying a shirt that costs $40, but you think you’ll only wear it 4 times. That’s $10 per wear! The lower the cost-per-wear, the more “worth it” a piece of clothing is.
Not into doing math? Glamour has a cost-per-wear calculator.
Method 26: Take the surveys on your receipts
You know those surveys cashiers always tell you take that you ignore every time? Take the survey and you could get a coupon for the next time you shop. It’s worth the five minutes.
Only do surveys that give you immediate benefits, like $5 off a $25+ purchase. The contests aren’t worth entering.
Method 27: Set a waiting period
Prevent impulse buys by giving yourself a purchase waiting period. See an item you really like? Make yourself wait anywhere from a few hours to a few weeks. The amount of time you wait depends on how much time you think you need to decide.
Waiting can help in more ways than one. If you wait long enough, the item you want might go on sale, making your decision much easier.
Method 28: Explore yard sales and garage sales
This is similar to thrifting, but a little more hit-or-miss. The great thing about garage and yard sales is that you can negotiate prices. If you see something you really like, ask the seller if they’re willing to go lower.
Treat it like a fun outing, not a mission for something specific.
Method 29: “One in, one out” rule
Keep your closet clean and your budget happy by using the “one in, one out” rule. This means that if you purchase a new piece of clothing, you have to get rid of a piece of clothing you currently own. You’ll shop less if you know it means having to give away things you like.
Be flexible with this rule if you have a small, minimalist wardrobe. You probably need all of those items to stay! Try another method instead.
Method 30: Use rewards programs at your favorite stores
Everyone has a favorite store, or two, or five. Whatever yours are, check to see if they have a customer rewards program. You could earn discounts and special perks just for shopping at your favorite places.
Check out this list of loyalty programs on Shopify to get started.
Method 31: Track prices for items you want
Just because something is expensive now, it doesn’t mean it will be impossible for you to forever. Set up a price tracker so you get notified when the price drops. Then you get what you want without having to overspend.
camelcamelcamel is one of the most popular price trackers online.
Method 32: Create a budget and stick to it
Add a clothing category to your monthly budget. Don’t spend any more than the amount you set for that category. If you have extra at the end of the month, you can put it in your savings account or roll it over to the next month’s clothing budget.
Follow our guide to creating a budget or set a 3% target spending limit, since that’s the average spending on apparel. You can always adjust the spending target later if you need to scale up or scale back
Method 33: Invest in your basics
In a post about saving money on clothes, it seems counterintuitive to tell you to invest in some more expensive pieces. Yet, spending on quality basics now can save you a lot down the road. Looking back at Method 25, the “cost-per-wear” rule, you can see how spending more now on an item you will wear for years can be the better option for the long run.
Published by Debt.com, LLC