Being on a budget doesn’t necessarily mean you have to cut new clothing out of your life for good. Follow these simple tips to save—while you shop.
1. Do Shop Slightly Out of Season
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Most retailers get new deliveries of clothing at least every two weeks (if not more often), and are under constant pressure to turn over their merchandise. This means that season-specific items—summer shorts and sandals, winter hats and gloves—hit the shelves a month or so early and are likely to be deeply discounted halfway through the season, despite still being the latest trends (making right now, for example, a great time to shop for swimwear). Resist the urge to stock up on the new pieces you want for the coming season—snag them when they’re marked down, but still wearable for months instead.
2. Do Buy Better Basics
When it comes to wardrobe staples (a white buttoned shirt, black trousers, a go-to tee), the options are endless, seemingly similar, and available at every price point, from Forever 21 to Fendi. But when it comes to these pieces—the ones you’ll wear over and over again, year after year—it makes more sense to invest in quality items. The cheap black pencil skirt and the more expensive one might not look so different on the rack, but paying a little more now will prevent you from having to constantly replace the lower-priced version (which will show telltale signs of wearing and washing much sooner), saving you money in the long run.
3. Don’t Get Sucked in By Sales
Do you have Black Friday marked on your calendar? What about Cyber Monday? Super Saturday? Amazon Prime Day? Are you on the mailing list for all of your favorite stores because they offer insider deals and discounts? You may think you’re being a savvy consumer by always scoring new things at lower-than-retail value, but you’re really just playing into well-known consumer psychology retailers use to get their customers to buy more—and more often. Do yourself a favor and unsubscribe from all of those email lists. The next time you’re tempted by a sale item, first ask yourself, “Is this something I would pay full value for? Or am I just tempted to buy it because it’s on sale?”
4. Don’t Dry Clean
Prevent your laundry bills from racking up by checking care tags before you walk out of the store. If you have any items that are “dry clean only,” keep in mind that the purchase price of that item isn’t the final amount that it will ultimately cost your bank account—you need to factor in the cost of dry cleaning for every wear. Keeping your closet stocked with pieces you can launder yourself will keep the cost of caring for your wardrobe down considerably.
5. Do Pay Attention to Care Tags
If avoiding “dry clean only” items is a maxim you already live by, take it one step further and ensure you’re taking proper care of the clothing you have—just because you don’t need to dry clean a piece doesn’t mean it won’t need special care. Check the care tag and always launder according to the manufacturers specifications, whether that’s with cold water only, laying flat to dry, or handwashing. It will greatly extend the lives of your clothes.
6. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for a Discount
Have you ever spotted a could-be perfect piece in store, reached for it, and realized, sadly, that it’s been damaged? Usually, the issue is minor—a small (removable) stain, a ripped seam, or a missing button—nothing you can’t fix at home for the cost of a small emergency sewing kit. Instead of putting the item back on the rack in defeat, recognize it as an opportunity to inquire about the retailer’s damage discount policy; they usually have one in place that will knock about 10 percent off of the price, even if it’s already on sale.
7. Do Try Alternative Ways to Shop
Mass retailers aren’t the only options out there to keep your closet well-stocked. Try hosting a clothing swap with friends, scouring eBay for coveted investment pieces, and keeping an eye on the offerings at your local thrift, consignment, and off-price stores