Women generally like clothes shopping, and so do some men. Shopping for clothes is recreation and fun, a time to socialize and to keep up with the latest fashions. Shopping gives people something to do, fills up closets, and empties out bank accounts.
Is it possible to have nice clothes and look decent but without breaking the bank?
First things first — stop shopping as a hobby. Shopping should be done when there’s something you need to buy, not just because you’re bored.
One way to ensure that you have as many nice looking outfits as possible for the least amount of money is by not buying outfits, only separates that you can mix and match to make a large variety of cute outfits. To make this easier, it’s often a better idea to predominantly buy solid colored tops and bottoms, as solid pieces tend to match each other more easily than patterned pieces. Alternatively, keeping all pants and skirts a solid color helps a great deal. Keeping a large supply of scarves, costume jewelry, belts, and bags helps to complete and vary the ensemble, so that you can have many different looks without needing to buy as many outfits.
Some people like only buying expensive, high quality items because they say it is more worthwhile to buy something expensive that will last a long time than to buy something cheap that will be ruined and need to be replaced more frequently. Consider whether or not the “great companies” have prices and quality that match. How long will the high quality item will last, and is it worth the money?
If the high end clothes cost 4 times as much as cheap clothes, and last twice as long, it may be better to buy cheap clothes twice, with half the total expenditure, than to pay twice as much to have one outfit that will last that long. Alternatively, try to find something middle of the range that is just as good quality for much less money.
If you’re going to be buying name brand clothes, you can generally find them much cheaper if you wait for sales, use coupons, shop the clearance rack, or go to their outlet stores. Alternatively, at the end of seasons, you can often find wonderful clothes for very cheap- just put it away for next season and you’re good.
Instead of buying new clothes, second hand clothes can get you a lot more clothes for the same amount of money, or the same amount of clothes for far less money, whichever you prefer. Some people are squeamish about wearing clothes that other people have already worn, and therefore are skeptical about buying used clothes. Many times, though, people buy clothes and for whatever reason, don’t end up wearing it; you can buy those clothes second hand, unworn, often still in their original packaging, and even with tags sometimes, no need to worry about it having been previously worn.
Ebay is a great source of second hand clothing. Buying clothes in bundles from sellers on ebay will often end up being more cost effective than buying individual items. You can likewise find unworn second hand clothes at consignment stores and even yard sales. If you’re less picky about whether something was previously worn, regular thrift stores, Craigslist, and Freecycle, an online group, all offer free or cheap second hand clothing.
Once you actually have your clothes, if you want to be able to have a nice wardrobe and not need to constantly buy new stuff, it is important to take care of your clothes so they don’t get ruined.
Dryers make life more convenient but they are very likely to damage your clothes and make them wear out much faster. Lint that accumulates in the machine? That’s bits of your clothing that was left behind, which is why anyone who wants to make their clothes last as long as possible should try to avoid using a dryer. Dryers also damage elastic in clothes, as well as set stains.
Hanging clothes to dry has many benefits. Line drying clothes in the sun will remove stains, especially if you put some salt and lemon juice on the stain before placing it outside to dry. However, this same quality that removes stains will also bleach your clothing if you hang it outside to dry too often. Line dry clothes inside out to slow down the fading. Alternatively, line dry inside or in the shade.
If the clothes do end up fading too fast, dying clothes with clothing dye may end up being more cost efficient than buying new clothes.
When elastic in clothing stretches out, it often can be replaced very easily. Opening up a hem, removing the old elastic, and feeding new elastic into it, is often all that needs to be done. Alternatively, a new elastic can be sewn onto the inside of the clothing without first removing the old elastic. For things like stretched out bra straps, they can be folded over on themselves and sewn.
Replacing zippers can also save many outfits that would otherwise need to be trashed. It isn’t so difficult to replace a zipper, but if you don’t know how to do it yourself, even paying a seamstress to replace a zipper usually ends up being much more cost efficient than buying new.
Stain fighting will help your clothes last faster. There are many items around the home that can be used to remove stains, including baking soda paste, lemon juice and/or vinegar, dish soap, and hydrogen peroxide. First put these items on the stain itself, rub the clothes vigorously to try to remove the stain and then soak the clothes. Wash the item and then if there is still a stain, put it in the sun to bleach.
There’s no need to spend a fortune on looking good. Get a basic wardrobe of decent clothing, treat your clothes well, fix things that need fixing when possible, and you’ll have all the clothes that you need without laying out too much money.
Penny is a mother who abides by a strict budget and shares her frugal, money saving strategies on her blog, Penniless Parenting. When she’s not busy trying out a new gluten free recipe or chasing her toddler around, Penny contributes her tips on how to live a rich life on a minimum wage on the CareOne blog, a community that provides debt consolidation and money-saving advice.