The beginning of the year can be a rough time for saving money. Changes such as new school terms for the kids or for us, new budgets following holiday shopping, temporary jobs ending, and new projects from all those resolutions we made combine with post-holiday sales to make blowing money tempting. This is especially true if one of the changes or resolutions you made will necessitate buying new clothes.
We have already heard the standard “save money on clothes” tips multiple times, across numerous websites. Nobody else needs to tell you to shop at yard sales and thrift stores if you can find your sizes there, learn the months that certain items are discounted the most in retail stores, or buy basics first. But there are a few things about clothes shopping we don’t think of as saving money, but can often save you even more than the standard tips.
Be aware of how clothing sizing works when buying women’s clothing.
Men’s clothing sizing is pretty straightforward, though once “relaxed fit” and “modern fit” and similar terms became a part of clothes shopping, men began having some difficulties finding things that actually fit them too. Women’s clothing sizing is downright disorienting.
The “ideal” figure wears either a 6 or an 8. This is an industry standard, not what everyone thinks. My fiance’s ideal has always been a thick/plus size/fat woman. I don’t think I’ve heard him call more than three or four slender women “hot” in all the years I’ve known him. My beauty role models tend to range in size from 16 to 24. If you are a size 2 or a 4, or if your dream girl is a size 2, that’s fine as well. Again, the “6” or “8” is an industry standard, not the one and only standard of beauty.
Making things worse, it is up to each designer to decide which size…a 6 or an 8…is the ideal, and to determine the measurements of that figure. This is why a size 10 woman might try on one pair of pants, watch them fall to the floor, and not be able to wear them until she sizes down to a 6, then try on another pair of pants in her size, and not be able to zip them up until she puts on a 14.
The best way around all this is to try the clothes on. If you cannot do that, go by the provided chart, but use the measurements, not the size number, to determine which size to order. And while you’re looking at the measurements, remember that the different departments are sized differently and cut a bit differently as well.
“Misses” sizes are even numbered with no letters added on. They tend to fit women with a curvier shape. “Junior” sizes are odd numbered. You are probably a junior size if you are more angular and slender. If you are very curvy, and thick, you may need a women’s size, designated by a number plus a W. Your “women’s” numerical size is going to be one lower than your Misses or Junior size. If you are a size 18, you need a size 16W. Those who need a shorter inseam and a higher waist in a garment may want to buy Petite sized clothing, designated with a number and a P. Your petite size is usually one number size larger. A size 18 woman needs a size 20P.
This may not help you save money on the actual clothes, but it can help save the money you waste driving things back to stores, shipping them back, or giving them away because you weren’t paying attention when you grabbed “your” size off the rack, didn’t have time to try it on, and took it home to realize it didn’t fit.
Determine and stick to your personal style with some internet key words.
This one I have read on a few clothing shopping advice sites, and the first time I read it, I rolled my eyes. I haven’t been in high school for nearly thirty years. My friends are not going to all start pointing and snickering if I walk into a room wearing something “preppy” when we all dress “hipster.”
But the mature adult version of this, minus the pointing and snickering, works to save money by eliminating impulse buys based on seeing things displayed prominently, seeing them on other people, or finding them on sale. When searching for possible clothing styles, type the term “clothing aesthetics” or “clothing aesthetics list” into a search engine. This will bring up a collection of pages you can explore to determine your signature style.
My own style is called “librarian style” or “academia.,” specifically “light, vibrant and standard academia.” I did the exact opposite of what I’m advising in this article, and discovered it entirely by accident during a frantic search for work clothes when I was promised a job in a library in the town where I used to reside. I never got the job, but the style stuck. I wound up needing the same clothes anyway, as I settled into a career as a writer and writing teacher. And if something doesn’t fit in with my collection of pencil skirts, dress pants, dress shoes, cardigans, dark wash jeans,and blouses, I don’t buy it.
Shop online when you need or want several items, but need to save money.
When shopping offline, in person, those of us who enjoy shopping for clothes start having fun right away. The enjoyment shopping enthusiasts get out of buying the items is often better than the items themselves, and it becomes easy to overspend. Those who loathe clothing shopping approach the experience with a “let’s get in here and get this over with as fast as we can” attitude. This often leads to grabbing the first suitable items and buying them, without being careful about prices.
And let’s be honest. Even the surliest anti-shopper can start having fun in a mall, hanging out with friends, or at least surrounded by strangers who love shopping. It’s easy to start happily gathering things without thinking of how much you’ll be paying for them until you’re at the cash register, and a mix of embarrassment and respect for the people in line behind you prevents you from telling the cashier you don’t want half of what you brought up there.
Online shopping carts force you to pause. You can see your total adding up in front of your eyes as you shop. All you own so far are pictures of your items, so there is no holding things and feeling like they’re already yours. In most cases, you’re home, in the same building as the clothes you already own. This allows you to pull out that item you hope the new things go with, and think for a minute about whether or not they’ll really work together. It can also provide the opportunity to double check and make sure you’re not accidentally buying something too similar to what you already own.
Whether you have a new job lined up for 2023, have decided to make changes in your appearance that necessitate a new wardrobe, or just got some gift cards for Christmas, these tips, along with the old tried and true ones about sales and coupons and timing…can save you a few dollars along the way.
by Jess Szabo originally published on Artist Cafe Utica www.artistcafeutica.com