How to Save Money on Clothing

See also: Budgeting Skills

Buying clothes is both a lot of fun and a necessity. After all, what we wear not only protects us from the elements, but it’s also a way for us to express our personalities and make a good impression on others.

However, while fun, clothes shopping can all too easily get out of hand. New clothes can be expensive, and it’s normal to get a bit carried away and you can easily be tempted to spend more than your budget.

Fortunately, you don’t have to spend a fortune to have great looking clothes all the time. There are several things you can do that will help you save money on clothing, allowing you to express your style without breaking the bank.

A rail of clothes on coat hangers.

Take Care of Your Clothes

One of the biggest reasons we wind up buying new clothes is because our old stuff isn’t good anymore. Years of use bring about stains, discoloration, fraying, and other signs of wear that make us want to head to the store and buy something new.

Therefore, one way to save money on clothes is to take better care of what you have so that you don’t need to buy as much new stuff.

To start, this means following the instructions on the label. No, these aren’t just guidelines. They’re what the manufacturer has determined is the best thing to do to prolong the life of your clothes, so you should heed what they have to say.

If it says “wash with like colors,” do it. If it says, “cold water only,” listen. After one or two loads, it might not make much of a difference. But following the care instructions will make your clothes last a lot longer over their lifetime.

In addition to following these care instructions, there are a number of other things you can do to take care of your clothes, make them last longer, and save you money, such as:

Avoid the Dryer

Clothes drying on a washing line in the mountains.

Dryers are super convenient. They get your clothes dry and ready to wear in an hour. But all that heat and motion is not usually good for your clothes. It can break the fibers down, shrink them, cause discoloration, and more.

Therefore, one way to protect your clothes is to keep them out of the dryer as much as possible. Some things you simply can’t dry, such as wool or silk. But other items can stay out too. In general, the more delicate the item, the less time it should spend in the dryer.

Once in a while is okay, but not every load.

Wash with Cold Water

Similarly, consider switching to washing your clothes with just cold water. Today, most laundry detergents get your clothes just as clean no matter the temperature of the water, so this doesn’t really need to be a concern.

The reason for this is that cold water is gentler on your clothes, and it will also help keep it from shrinking, which is a big reason why people have to give up their clothes and buy new ones.

Attack Stains

Just because you spill red wine, chocolate, or blood on your clothes does not mean they are ruined, as so many of us have been trained to think. Instead, there are a number of things you can do to attack stains and get rid of them before they become permanent.

For example, if you have grass stains, soaking your clothes in water and white vinegar can completely remove them. Baking soda solutions are great, too, as are bleach and rubbing alcohol, in the event you’ve got some tree sap on your clothes.

All in all, a stain does not mean death to your clothing. Get it in some water right away and then look up the best way to treat it so that you can get your clothes as good as new.

Hand Wash Dry Clean Only Items

A lot of more sensitive clothing items come with strict instructions to “dry clean only.” This is meant to protect your clothes from the harsh environment of the washing machine, as well as the detergents we use.

This is a great way to protect your clothes. But it’s also incredibly expensive. Taking your clothes to the cleaners every week will, well, take you to the cleaners.

However, a lot of clothing, such as silk and wool, can be washed at home. You just need to wash it by hand and use mild soap. Don’t do this for suede, leather or down clothing. But most other delicate items can be cleaned at home, saving you lots and lots of money.

Shop at Thrift Stores

While taking care of the clothes you have is a great way to save money, it’s impossible to completely avoid buying new clothes. But just because you need something new doesn’t mean you have to buy something straight from the factory.

Thrift stores and other secondhand shops can be a great way to find excellent clothing at a fraction of the price. You’d be surprised what people give away; it’s quite common to find brand new clothes that maybe have only been worn once or twice.

Of course, the downside to thrift shops is that you get what you get. If you need something specific, they might not have it. But if you can be flexible, this is a great way to find excellent stuff for much less money.

If you don’t want to shop at thrift stores, consider factory outlets and other shops such as Marshalls or TJ Maxx. These places will stock clothes from last seasons, or ones with minor defects, and charge you much less, giving you access to the latest fashion without spending a fortune.

Look for Sales

If you really want to or need to buy brand new clothes, such as summer ladies linen pants, then make sure to develop a keen eye for sales.

Most stores will have a clearance rack, so consider looking there to see if you can find any deals. But it’s also important to tune into the fashion calendar.

For example, new summer clothing usually comes out at the end of winter/beginning of spring, which makes that time of year the best opportunity to buy winter clothing. Stores are trying to get rid of their old inventory, and so they will often reduce prices considerably.

The same thing goes for winter clothing. It usually comes out at the end of the summer, which means you should be ready to stock up for next year.

Other things to look out for are holidays. It seems everyone has a Black Friday sale these days, so pay attention to that. And also consider shopping after the December holidays. People return stuff and stores are looking to clear inventory, which can save you money.

Lastly, consider signing up for email updates from your favorite stores and brands. This way you’ll know exactly when the sales are and can save your purchase for when you’ll save the most money.

Consider Renting Clothes

One way to save money on clothing is to stop buying it and start renting it. This works particularly well for people who like to be up on the latest trends, or if you need to buy a garment for a specific event, such as a wedding.

This is becoming an increasingly popular thing to do, so you don’t have to wait for a special occasion. Instead, you can rent regular clothes, allowing you to enjoy all the latest styles without spending too much money.

Sell Old Clothes

Lastly, you can save money on clothing by offsetting the cost of new clothing with money you make from your old clothing.

There are a few ways you can do this. One is to take your clothes to a consignment shop. They will pay you a small amount for the clothes, and if they sell, you’ll make a little more. Another option is to try and sell stuff yourself.

If you have nice stuff, consider using sites such as “The Real Real.” These specialize in luxury items and let you fetch a fair price for your clothes.

In the end, any little bit helps. If you can sell a bunch of old sweaters for $40 and find something new for the same price, you not only get something new for free, but you can also free up some space in your closet. It’s a win-win!

Start Saving Money

In relative terms, clothes are cheaper today than they ever have been. But if you buy them constantly, things can quickly add up. Use these hacks to save yourself some money without having to sacrifice your style or personality.

About the Author

Alex Simon is a nomad freelance writer who loves to write about fashion, sports and travel.