Americans spend A LOT of money on clothes. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average person spent $1,640 on clothing and services in 2013. That’s a pretty penny. Multiple that by a family of four and your calculator is begging for mercy.
Here are some tips to save on clothing this fall without compromising on style:
1. Assess what you already have
Before you even set foot in a clothing store, take stock of what’s currently in your closet. Chances are there’s a piece you forgot you owned, which will save you from buying it twice. Also, you probably have a few things in there you never wear because they don’t fit right. Consider taking those items to a tailor instead of buying an identical item in a better fit. Chances are tailoring will be cheaper, and if you’ve hardly worn it, it should be in like-new condition.
2. Buy clothes that are versatile
Buy clothing that you can mix and match with at least three other items in your closet. This will allow you more outfits for less money. Look for neutral or lightly-patterned garments with classic silhouettes. If you like trends, just be aware that they have a shorter shelf life. For budget-conscious trend lovers, a good strategy is to pick one or two trends to follow, rather than all.
3.Buy basics from generic brands
You don’t need a designer white t-shirt. You just don’t. A cotton tee from Target, H&M or Forever 21 will serve you just as well. Big box stores are great places for stocking up on undershirts, socks and underwear.
4. Shop the clearance racks first
Stores strategically place their new (read: expensive) merchandise in the front and center of the store so you’re more likely to see and buy it. So before you glance at the new racks, peruse the clearance section. Many big retailers, like Banana Republic for instance, rotate the same styles over and over each season, so chances are high that you’ll find an in-season style in an off-season color or pattern.
5. Shop at stores that rotate their merchandise often
Speaking of big retail stores, they are great to shop at when you’re trying to save money on clothes. They markdown their merchandise often and will usually credit you the difference if you recently purchased an item and it went on sale soon afterward. Stores like Old Navy, Gap and Banana Republic are great for this. Just make sure you have your receipt.
6. Don’t turn your nose up at TJMaxx and Marshall’s
A lot of people think TJ Maxx and Marshall’s are where unloved clothes go to die. Like they’re the Islands of Misfit Clothes. But in fact, this isn’t true. Or it’s only partly true. Most of merchandise at these stores comes from retailer error, e.g. a shop owner orders the wrong item or orders too many of the item, etc. or the clothes are a result of a buy-back clause.
7. Shop used
Don’t be too quick to turn your nose up at used clothing. You can find some really great deals on clothing that looks (and smells) like new. Consignment stores typically impose a good or like-new standard for the clothes they re-sell, whereas Goodwill and the Salvation Army don’t do as much quality control. Ebay is an especially great place to shop, as you can usually find clothes that still have tags.
Tip: I recently discovered Thredup.com, a consignment website that only sells used clothes in like-new condition. Also, if you have clothes you want to sell, they’ll come to your doorstep and pick up your stuff. Learn more about ThredUp here.
8. Shop the men’s and kids’ section
Women’s clothing is often priced higher than men’s and kids’ clothing. If you’re a woman looking for something universal, like a t-shirt or hoodie, check the racks in the men’s and kids’ sections first.
What tips do you have for saving money on clothes? I’d love to know. Tell me in the comments section below.