Every money saving blog has an article on this topic, and most of them suggest shopping at thrift stores. That is indeed the ideal way to save money on clothes….until you get a new job that requires you to wear a black jacket, you need a size XL and it can’t have a lining in a color from a rival company, and every jacket in your local thrift store is either small, lined in that color, or turns out to be navy or gray when you hold it near the light. Those of us who take hard to find sizes, such as tall size twos or plus sizes, may also have trouble buying enough clothing to get through the week at a thrift store. Yard sales and thrift stores are great sources for saving money on clothes. Shop them whenever you can. But there are other ways to save money on clothes.
Determine your style or uniform.
The style of clothing I wear really is called “librarian style.” I know this because I applied for a job at a library, searched online for appropriate clothing, and found Pinterest boards and fashion articles with that style described and illustrated. Finding a style may have been a happy accident for me, but if you do it on purpose, it can save you money by limiting impulse buys. Determining your style will also stretch the items you have farther. Because everything in my closet is in the same style, I can wear nearly any skirt or pair of pants with any blouse and sweater. It all goes together. If no one style appeals to you, think about the few items you commonly wear as your uniform, and only buy those few items. There’s nothing wrong with wearing either a polo shirt or a button down shirt with either tan jeans or black jeans every day if that’s what works best for you.
Even within a style, there are going to be items that work or don’t work for you. Eliminate the ones that don’t. If you work someplace that makes long necklaces or loose bracelets a safety hazard, don’t buy those items. If something looks good on the fashion web site, but looks bad on you, don’t buy it. I love little dresses worn with cardigans. I wear skirts and blouses instead, because I rarely find a dress that flatters me and lays comfortably enough for me to get through the day without constantly adjusting my clothes.
Choose a color palette.
Just as you zeroed in on a style, choose six or seven colors you like. Make sure you can wear most of them together. Neutrals suit me, so I have black/grey, brown, and white clothing. I also love blue, green, and purple. Some of my greens are more turquoise, and a few of my purples lean burgundy/red, but everything in my closet is black/grey, brown/beige, white, blue, green, or purple. This is why I don’t clash, and seem to have a lot of outfits when I only own about 60 pieces of clothing total.
Narrowing your wardrobe down by style, item, and color helps curb impulse shopping, which can drain a lot of your clothing money. It also helps prevent those situations where you think you have nothing to wear and need to go buy something new because nothing goes together.
Be gentle with the clothing you own.
Most clothing does not need washed as often as we wash it. You do need to wash your socks and underwear every time you wear them, and if you wear knit shirts, such as tee shirts or polo shirts, those will need washed after each wearing. Jeans, heavy twill pants, and dress pants can be worn up to five or six times before they need to be washed. Dress shirts can be worn two or three times, unless you sweated that day or spilled something on them.
Wash your clothes in cold water and air dry them whenever possible. You will still want to use a dryer for underwear, socks, pajamas, and towels, but if it’s part of an outfit, cold water and air drying will keep the item in new condition. Get spills and stains out with dish soap and plain white vinegar rather than harsh stain removers.
Shoes can be polished and shoelaces can be replaced much cheaper than buying new shoes.
Caring for your clothing gently helps eliminate the need to shop more to replace ruined or worn items.
Find the cheapest stores that have the clothes you wear.
My cardigans come from any store that offers cardigans without pockets. I don’t even remember how I found my shoes. Everything else comes from places like Blair, Woman Within, Walmart, and other discount clothing retailers . Even if you are into designer labels and the latest trends, there are department stores that offer the items for less than others.
Adopting one to three stores as “your” primary clothing sources can also save you money through coupons and sales. Sign up for the email list for your favorite places, and you’ll get alerts and codes to save you even more money on your purchases. Just make sure you really need or want the clothes, and aren’t shopping just because there’s a sale.
Make sure you have enough clothes.
It may sound strange to suggest saving money on clothes by purchasing more clothes, but wardrobes that are too small can cost more money in the long run. If you go for an extremely small capsule wardrobe, such as ten or twenty pieces, you will probably find the items wearing out quickly, no matter how gentle you are with them. Even if you do manage to keep them in excellent condition, an extremely small wardrobe means you have to do laundry much more often. If you find yourself making extra trips to the laundromat or laundry room each week just to have something to wear to work or for the weekend, you are actually spending more money than you would if you just bought a few more items of clothing.
If you love clothes, make a clothing envelope in your budget.
Clothes may not be my thing, but a lot of people love to shop for and collect clothes. Unless you’re starving your child or pet, or doing something equally cruel to afford the clothing, there is nothing wrong with this. Money saving articles that scream at people that they don’t need a lot of clothes irritate me, even though I don’t think I need a lot of clothes. If you want to collect every color of Converse, or you feel attractive when you wear the latest styles, go for it. Set aside a clothing fund that you fill after all your necessary expenses are met. This will allow you to indulge in your passion without dipping into money needed elsewhere.