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Clothing. If you are like most, you have a closet and bureau full of clothes and you only end up wearing a small percentage of them.
I am guilty of this.
I have a ton of t-shirts but only wear a handful all the time.
When I think of the money I wasted on clothes I never wear it hurts.
So what are some ways you can save money on clothes?
The obvious answer is to not buy any in the first place.
But walking around without clothes is going to get you into trouble unless you live in a nudist colony.
So we’ve got to buy clothes, but does this mean we can’t get good deals and save money in the long run?
In this post, I am going to show you a handful of ways on how to save money on clothes.
11 Tips To Save Money On Clothes
#1: Where You Shop Matters
There are a few ways to save money on clothing.
The first is where you shop.
For the most part, and I am talking 99% of the time, department stores or designer stores are not the place to go.
Instead, you should make these 4 places your go-to options for clothes.
More and more of these are popping up all over the place.
You will find good, high quality clothes that have been barely worn or never worn for huge discounts.
Many times you can find great name brands at consignment shops.
This one is hit or miss.
Many times you may go and come up empty handed, but there are times when you go and find good clothes for a low price.
And as you shop the various thrift stores around you, you will start to know which ones are the best ones to shop at.
Like consignment shops, these outlets are popping up everywhere. Most times they have great deals, like 50% off or more.
The key to shopping here though is to pay attention to the quality you are getting.
Many retailers now make a separate line exclusively for their outlets. This exclusive clothing line sometimes lacks in quality.
For example, I found a henley shirt I liked at Gap. I wanted to buy more, but they didn’t have any.
When I went to the Gap Factory Outlet, they had a huge selection.
I was so caught up with the great price, I didn’t notice the lower quality until I held it up to the one I had.
It was much thinner and the stitching wasn’t as solid.
The bottom line, when shopping outlet stores, a great deal might not be a great deal.
These are your TJ Maxx, Ross, and Marshall’s. They have overstocked items from retailers for a lot less.
They are a good place to go to find quality clothes on a discount.
The only catch is they often don’t have the same shirt in many sizes.
So why shop at these types of stores?
Because you can save a ton of money on clothes that are like new.
Let the person who isn’t as thrifty with their money pay full price. Then wait for them to never wear the item and get rid of it at a consignment shop.
You’ll come out ahead big time.
Now does this mean you should never shop at a department store?
No, but you should try to avoid them.
Unless there is a huge sale going on, and by huge I mean 50% off or more, then simply stay away.
I go more into sales later on in this post.
#2. Buy Quality
I touched on this tip above.
You have to pay attention to quality.
The higher quality the item, the longer it will last you.
Foolishly, in the past I ignored my own advice.
I bought t-shirts from a retailer because they were only $9.
I wear these shirts all the time, so I thought $9 was a great deal.
Only it wasn’t. The shirts lasted me on average of a year before getting holes.
So every year I was forking over another $9.
If I bought a higher quality shirt, one that costs $30, I wouldn’t have to do this.
That $30 shirt would last me 5 years or more. In 5 years my cheap t-shirts cost me $45 ($9 per shirt, one new one each year for 5 years).
This same concept applies to everything you buy.
Don’t make the mistake most people do and only consider price.
You have to consider quality and how long you plan on using the item.
Sure it makes sense to buy the lowest price wrapping paper because you use it once and are done with it.
But other things that you reuse you have to take into account the quality of the item.
#3. Try Everything On
I can’t stress this one enough.
You have to try everything on.
Let me show you why.
When I was younger, I knew my size. I knew that when I went to Gap for jeans, I needed a 33×34 size.
I knew when I shopped for jeans at Express I needed 32×34. Because of this I never tried anything on.
The same thing applied to shirts as well.
Not surprisingly, I bought a ton of clothes I never wore.
Because when I finally put them on at home, I didn’t like the look or how they fit.
And I couldn’t return them because I had already taken the tag off.
A few years ago, I changed my approach.
I tried everything on and something happened.
In the dressing room I saw that I didn’t like the look of them or the fit, so I put them back.
This has saved me a lot of money on clothes.
I can’t tell you how many shirts and pants I put back and don’t buy because I try them on in the store.
When I shop online, I do the same thing too.
I open the box and before ripping the tag off, I try them on and look in the mirror.
If I like it, I keep it. If not, I return them.
You can even use this technique with clothing subscription boxes.
Of course, you have to be honest with yourself here too.
You know when you try something on how you feel.
If you are on the fence, don’t buy it.
Don’t fall for the trick of thinking the lighting is bad or with the right shirt the pants will look better.
It won’t. Put it back and keep looking.
I’ve found that if I am not so excited that I want to wear the item right now, odds are I’ll never wear it.
#4. Buy Classics, Avoid Trends
A big waste of money on clothes comes by trying to stay in fashion.
Here is why this costs you a ton of money.
First, trends come and go.
As a result, you will have to completely change your wardrobe every few years.
Second, when clothes are in style, there is high demand. This means retailers charge more for them.
The solution is to skip the trends.
Instead buy classics that are always in style.
A pair of khakis with a nice button down shirt for guys is a classic look.
You can buy a few pairs of khakis in various shades of tan and a handful of shirts and you are set.
#5. Wash The Right Way
Too many of us ignore the washing instructions on clothes. We throw everything in together, on the same cycle and water temperature.
Take a few extra minutes and separate your clothing and wash it in the right temperature.
While you are doing this, cut back on the amount of detergent you are using too.
With high efficiency washing machines and concentrated detergent, you only need a small amount.
By following these tips, you will help your clothes last longer, which saves you money in the long run.
#6. Avoid The Dryer
Another thing to change is the use of your clothes dryer.
Drying your clothes at a high temperature hurts clothing and forces you to buy clothes more often.
Instead of using the dryer, air dry your clothes.
If you have space, set up a clothes line and dry them that way.
If you don’t have the space, buy a drying rack. Here is the one I use on Amazon.
I get all my clothes on it and in a few hours, everything is dry.
The added benefits here are I save money on my electric bill and I add some moisture back into my house in the winter.
#7. Shop Online
When shopping for clothes, most times shopping online is your best option.
This is because many times the sales are better.
Added to this is you can use cash back sites to get bigger discounts.
Here are two options for you to make this work.
#1. Go to the store to try things on and find the right sizes and colors. Make note of them and come home and buy online.
#2. Buy online and if you are unsure of the size, buy two sizes and return the items that don’t work for you.
If you are buying online only, make sure you can make free returns. If not, see if you can return in store for free.
Rakuten offers cash back and sends you the savings every quarter.
New members get a free $10 gift card just for signing up!
New members get $5 bonus just for joining!
I use both strategically.
I will see which one is offering me the highest cash back and shop with that one.
Surprisingly, I’ve found rarely are they both offering the same cash back amount.
In other words, it pays to shop around.
On average I earn around $40 a quarter with Rakuten or $120 a year.
With Swagbucks, I earn around the same amount. The difference is I redeem my points for gift cards to the grocery store I shop at to get free groceries.
#8. Ask For A Discount
If you prefer to shop in store, you have to ask for a discount when checking out.
All you have to do is ask if there are any discounts the cashier can apply to your purchase.
I’ve found more often than not, there is some coupon that can be used.
If there isn’t, you can try one last time.
Ask if there is a discount for paying in cash.
I’ve not had this work as often as the coupon question, but every so often it does work.
Don’t be scared to ask. The worst is they say no.
#9. Shop Sales
Regardless of where you are buying your clothes, wait for sales.
This will save you the most money on clothes.
Ideally, you will shop at the end of the season when stores are making room for the next season’s inventory.
And an entire store doesn’t need to be on sale for you to save money.
If only tee shirts are on a great sale, stock up on these and wait for jeans to go on sale.
By knowing what to buy and when, you will save money.
#10. Be Patient
When shopping sales, it is easy to get caught up in the moment.
You need to be patient and only buy what you need and at the right price.
Don’t think if jeans are $10 off, this is the best sale. Odds are there will be a better sale soon.
With that said, don’t try to hold out forever.
When you see a good sale, you will know and this will be the time to buy.
#11. Don’t Fall For Tricks
The last tip on how to save money on clothes is to not fall for tricks.
Many retailers will trick you with sales that make you think you are getting a great deal.
For example, the “classic buy one, get one 50% off” sale is one to avoid.
You see the 50% off and think it’s a steal.
But you are paying full price for the first item.
Instead, wait for the sale that discounts every item, not just the second one.
Also, don’t fall for the “buy more, save more” signs.
If you only need one pair of jeans, buying 5 pairs is a waste of money.
There you have how to save money on clothes.
I use all these tricks and have bought fewer clothes than I would if I didn’t follow them.
And because of this, I save myself a good bit of money as well.
The biggest note I can make on all these tips though is that you need to be honest with yourself.
This is how you will stop yourself from buying clothes that you will never wear.
Like I said above, if you aren’t 100% in love with the item, don’t buy it.
If you do buy it, odds are it will never get worn.
Or you will only wear it once or twice and then bury it in the back of your closet or in the bottom of a drawer.
Save your money to spend on things you love and your wallet and future self will thank you.