In honour of my better half discovering a new pre-loved clothing shop and scoring a new winter wardrobe the other weekend, here are 10 top tips from the team here at Sorted for saving money on clothes this season.
1. Work with your wardrobe.
To stretch your dollar further and get more use out of what you buy, stick to items that coordinate with your existing wardrobe. Pick colours and styles that go well with what you already have. If you have one or two base colours (it doesn’t have to be black, though!) it’s easier to mix and match.
2. Don’t love it? Return it.
They say if you don’t absolutely love it in the store, you won’t when you get home. Only buy things you have no doubts about in the shop – a mantra for avoiding costly mistakes. If you’re not sure, just walk away and say you need to think about it.
But even if you do love it in the store, it’s wise to check return policies so you know you won't be stuck with a wasted purchase if an item doesn't fit or look right once you get it home.
Unfortunately, many shops will give a credit but not a refund if you change your mind. The item will probably still need to have its tags to be taken back, too.
If you’re buying online, returns can become expensive when it comes to paying for the postage. An alternative is to try on the item (or something else in the same brand and sizing) in a shop beforehand, which makes it easier to be sure when you’re shopping on the web.
3. Pre-loved shops rule.
Whether it’s vintage shops, school fairs or charity shops like Vinnie’s or Salvation Army stores, pre-loved clothing stores are a great way to find fabulous fashions.
Some also offer an opportunity to make some money on your own gently used items. One of the team here at Sorted got a cheque for $73 last Saturday from a pre-loved shop that sold some of her summer clothes that she hadn’t used in a while.
4. Start at season’s end.
Retailers will often unload clothes at incredible markdowns at the end of the season. If you don’t need something urgently and know what you’ll need for next year, end-of-season shopping can save you big dollars. Watch out for mid-season sales, too.
5. Try fewer but nicer.
Aim for fewer, better quality garments – by simplifying your wardrobe, you can save in the long run. By avoiding frivolous purchases, you won’t end up with an overstocked closet that costs more, despite being full of cheaper items.
If you do splurge, make it an important piece. Be smart about where you make your biggest fashion buys.
6. Choose pieces that work overtime.
The more versatile an item is, the more value you get for your dollar. You can build a wardrobe that has something suitable for every activity – and weather pattern – in your life instead of just work (or play) clothes. And you won’t be tempted into panic buying because you have nothing to wear.
7. Easy care makes it easy.
Why is it that many times the most expensive garments are also hard – and costly – to care for? A great way to save money on your wardrobe over time is to search out pieces that are simple to care for. Find items that you can wash at home, rather than having to dry clean, and that don’t need ironing, like merino wool. They travel well, too.
8. Make a list, check it twice.
If you create a list of the exact clothing items you're looking for, you’re more likely to stick to your plan and not crumble at the onslaught of distractions coming at you in a shop. (Remember, if you don’t have a plan for your money, someone else surely will!) The more you stick to a list, the less you’ll be swayed towards unplanned purchases.
9. Never pay interest.
Two things are at play here: if you’re using a credit card as you shop, you’re likely to spend 30% more than you would if you use cash. And that means it will be even harder to crack that nut when the bill rolls in.
No matter what, commit to paying off your credit card each month so you avoid those finance charges.
10. Find yourself shopping to fill a void? Don’t.
Shopping is like any habit or even addiction – it can bring momentary joy, but it can also run up your budget if you constantly use retail therapy to make yourself feel better.
Leave your shopping for when you are in a good frame of mind and know what you want to spend.
And although shopping with friends can leave you feeling left out if you don’t spend anything, shopping with an honest friend who understands your money situation and what clothes you really need is … pure gold.
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