Saving Money When Shopping for Clothes


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If you have a 401k – or even a piggy bank! – you are probably counting your pennies very carefully right about now! So I wanted to share with you a few of my strategies for creating a great wardrobe on a tight budget.

Set Your Goal

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Before you plunk down the credit card, take a hard look at needs vs. wants. (This is what we explored in my last post.) It’s tempting to jump on sales, especially when we’ve been feeling a financial pinch. Buying something perfect on sale is a mood elevator!

But that’s not always a great strategy, even when building a wardrobe on a comfortable budget. The temptation is to buy something that may be trendy and cool, but that doesn’t go with the rest of your wardrobe staples.

Things that don’t work aren’t just monetarily expensive. They are energy drainers. They make you feel a little bit defeated. So be strategic when you shop. But first know what you own.

Quality on a Budget

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The change of seasons is a great time to re-assess your current wardrobe and determine what should get recycled. Once you do that, then, look for replacements in a better quality. So how to you get better quality on a budget? One great option is the resale shops you may have just donated to! A lot of my clients and friends have found terrific bargains on high quality items in vintage and resale stores.

Now, although I cautioned about avoiding sales as a rule, a whole lot of retailers, anticipating this rocky economic downturn, have deeply discounted brand new items as much as 40-50%. Many of these sales have a limited window. So if you see something that could complete an outfit, or that you have been looking for, or that you just know will work for you, jump on it.

Also, if there is a particular brand or designer that you like, whose clothes fit you and often has colors and styles that work for you, sign up for their email alerts. You will hear first about sale items. Just make sure the items are returnable. And look for free shipping both ways. Shipping can really eat into a budget.

Also, there are websites that offer luxury or higher-end items at a discount. Some of these are also re-sale sites. Of course, those often still come with a hefty price tag. But if you love designer items, that’s one way to go.

Shop in Your Own Closet

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If you’ve just given away a lot of things, your pickings might be slim. Still, some of the most creative outfits come from the fewest choices. And what remains in your wardrobe is likely of better quality, better fitting and more flattering than what you’ve recycled.

But maybe it’s time to experiment a little. Have you considered using a blouse as a “jacket” in warmer weather? Have you thought about using your favorite scarf in a different way: tying it to your handbag? Wearing it as a head scarf? Have you tried wearing a monochrome outfit with a great pop of color in earrings, shoes, or a bag? Really, the possibilities are endless.

Coupon Codes

Lastly, there are a lot of sites that offer discount coupons for major retailers.  You won’t likely be able to add coupons to items that are already on sale on a site. But if you see something at full price that you really want, and know it will likely sell out in your size quickly (better things often do) it’s very likely you can get a discount or at the very least free shipping using a coupon. The coupons usually have an expiration date, so be alert to that.

The most reliable coupon sites are:

I Just Need More Money!!

Of course, if you need to think about creating more wealth or just staying afloat, revisit my January article: Your Financial Well-Being. There are a lot of ideas there for making extra money or staying afloat.

Next week, in celebration of the Summer Solstice we’ll look at swimsuits and cover-ups for our Northern Hemisphere friends!

Here’s to the real, fashionable, thrifty you!