Keeping up with the trends and meeting your specific clothing needs can really get pricey. That’s especially true if you resort to fast fashion from the likes of Zara and H&M. Although fast fashion is cheap and looks nice, it is not made to hold up to the test of time. You’re not doing your budget any favors if you have to keep rebuying similar items again and again.
Fortunately, it is possible to dress well without spending a million bucks. Creating a wardrobe you love is a balancing act of finding the look you like at a price you can afford. You can achieve the style you want for a budget price; you just have to know where to shop. Keep reading for ideas on where you can find clothes made to last while staying within your means.
1. Factory Outlets and Off-Price Retailers
As you’re shopping, think of your style and the brands you already know fit you well. If you don’t know yet, try on some things at major retailers to decide what brands work best for your style and shape. Once you know you’re an Ann Taylor woman or an Eddie Bauer guy, hit the outlet stores, either in person or online. Retail outlet stores offer major deals on the brands you like. If you don’t mind slight imperfections, you could even find discount Carhartt clothes in a factory seconds section at bargain prices.
Maybe you’re more brand-agnostic. In that case, enjoy the thrill of the hunt at overstock stores like Marshalls and T.J. Maxx. These stores sell a little bit of everything from mainstream brands at prices that can be bona fide steals. Since you’re unlikely to know what you’ll encounter, make the experience less overwhelming by homing in on favorite colors or shapes in your likely size.
2. Look for Secondhand Pieces
With what’s in fashion changing by the minute, many people are constantly upgrading their wardrobes. Take advantage of the quick turnaround market and look for items secondhand. Stores like Goodwill and Salvation Army might have what you’re looking for. Checking out vintage stores, consignment shops, and garage sales is another way to go as well. You can even find some items that still have tags on them!
In fact, there are people who love clothes and buy and resell them online. If thrifting isn’t your jam, let them do the work for you and shop their curated sites. When there’s a specific piece you’re hunting for, look online at stores like eBay, Mercari, or Poshmark. You can find high-end used clothing and accessories at a great price this way.
3. Sell Clothes to Buy Clothes
You just learned you can search and find deals through marketplaces like Mercari and Poshmark. You can sell your gently used items through these platforms as well. So if you are a fashionista on a budget, plan to sell clothes to buy new clothes. You can take items you no longer wear and flip them for that new skirt you’ve been eyeing.
You can also resell your clothes at stores that give you a cut of the sale when one of your items is purchased. These outlets could be a local consignment shop or an online one like Plato’s Closet. If you’re selling in bulk, posting items on Facebook Marketplace or having a garage sale might work well for you.
If you’re not sure whether you should sell a piece or hold onto it just in case, do a use test. Flip all your hangers backward, and if you wear an item, turn the hanger around. At the end of the season, you’ll be able to plainly see what pieces you still have in your rotation.
4. Shop Off Season and Clearance
Have you ever tried to buy a swimsuit on the 4th of July weekend? It’s a nightmare to find anything left in your size and style, let alone on sale! You’ll find a bigger selection if you shop a season ahead. And you’ll find bigger discounts if you shop as one season is ending and retailers start bringing out the next one’s line. Following this principle, look for swimsuits in the spring for a big variety and late summer or early fall for maximum savings.
Check out the clearance rack for these off-season cycles as well. You might even luck out and find some items in your size in clearance for the current season. When stores have only a handful of something left, they tend to mark it down dramatically. Clearance can save you 50%-75% off at times, so don’t sleep on this hack! Bonus tip: Always check clearance first before browsing the main racks.
5. Budget and Take Advantage of Discounts
One of the main ways to not blow your budget is to create one in the first place. If you love to shop for clothes, set a line item in your budget dedicated to clothing. That way, you have permission to spend in that category guilt-free. Adding a couple of pieces here and there throughout the year can really round out your look. And if you follow the tips above, you can avoid paying full price.
Look for coupons and sales as well to stretch that line item further. Your birthday month is one of the best times to shop new with coupons and discounts offered by retailers. To get them, sign up at your favorite store as a rewards member. The retailer will send you birthday offers, and you can treat yourself to a free item or in-store discounts using this method.
Looking Good on the Cheap
Having a plan and sticking to it is one of the best ways to not blow your budget in any category. This applies to your clothing as well. Searching for deals and gently used items can help you stay on track financially while uncovering some great pieces. And with so many places selling high-end brands used or as overstock, you can still get the quality and durability you want. No matter whether you’re into Calvin Klein or Carhartt, there are items out there for you — go snap them up.