According to a Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Expenditure Survey, Canadians spend over $1.600 on clothing per person, per year. Fashions are constantly changing and we all like to have something new and pretty from time to time. But clothing costs can add up quickly and blow your budget, or worse, lead to unhealthy consumer spending debt. The good news is, there are ways to stretch your clothing dollars and still feel and look fabulous!
1. Back of the Store: In most clothing stores, the discount racks and clearance section are as far from the shop windows as possible. Head to the back of the store to score end-of-season pricing and other discounts.
2. Beware of Sales: Yup, I said it. Sales can be a bad thing. If you’re buying items just because they’re on sale, it’s easy to blow your budget even though you feel like you’re being responsible. Sales and clearance prices often lure you into making purchase decisions quickly, without considering whether you really ought to spend the money. Never buy items that don’t fit, expecting to lose weight. Don’t buy special occasion clothing unless you have a special occasion coming up. If you can’t picture where and when you’ll wear an item, you probably won’t. When you’re buying sale items on a credit card, make sure you can pay it off immediately, or interest will add on to the price. Consider asking the folks behind the register to hold your purchases for an hour and go grab a coffee or spend time chatting with a friend. If you still want the items afterward, they’re probably a good buy. But more often than not, allowing yourself a little space and time will change your mind about items you probably won’t wear.
3. Budget for Clothing: One of the best ways to get your finances in order is to make and stick to a budget. If you do this, you can allow yourself a certain amount of money per week, per month, or per season, to spend on new clothes.Make sure you’re checking for coupons from your favorite stores like Hudson’s Bay so that you can stretch your budget further. Remember though, if you’re constantly going over budget on a category, it’s time to assess whether you’re overspending, or it’s time to adjust the budget and cut back elsewhere.
4. Buy Off-Season: As soon as a new season (or even a bit before) of fashion arrives in stores, the leftovers from the prior season get discounted. This way stores can clear out old inventory to keep things fresh. This means shopping for swimsuits in the middle of the summer (rather than at the start) will allow you to save big!
Check Your Email: If you’re like me, you probably get a ridiculous number of promotional emails every day. It’s far too many to keep up with! Use an email service like Gmail that allows you to archive and search unwanted messages. Then, when you’re in the market for something new, give your email a quick search before you head out the door. You might find a promotion at your favorite store just waiting for your attention!
5. Go Custom: Custom clothing used to be only for the rich, but with new options popping up online, it’s become more affordable than ever. Websites like eShakti allow you to customize the look and fit of hundreds of styles to get the perfect piece for you, at a surprisingly affordable price! And since the items you purchased were made to your specifications, you’ll likely get more wear out of them for longer.
6. Hair and Makeup: Looking to update your look without replacing your entire wardrobe? You’ll be amazed at how far a new hairstyle or makeup routine can go. For something more drastic, consider dying your hair a new color, or for guys, change up your facial hair.
7. Hand-Me-Downs: If you’re raising kids on a budget, you know what a life saver hand-me-downs can be. But sometimes the little ones are less than thrilled about wearing their older siblings’ cast offs. Make old clothes new and fun again by adding personalized touches like funky buttons or trendy patches. You can find easy-to-add special touches at your local craft store or online, and you’ll be surprised at how easy it is to transform simple clothing into something special.
8. Holiday Shopping: We’ve all seen the big sales and promotions that accompany major holidays. If a holiday is on the horizon, it might be best to hang on to your clothing dollars and shop during the upcoming promotions. Don’t forget lesser known holidays too!
9. Keep Up With the Laundry: Laundering clothing promptly can prevent stains from setting in and ruining your clothes. Proper care of clothing can make it last longer and keep you from having to replace expensive items. That said, over-laundering your clothes can cause them to wear out more quickly. Inspect your clothes when you take them off to see if they need to be cleaned, and if not, consider just airing them out for a quick refresh. When washing at home, make sure to use cool or cold water whenever possible, and don’t use more detergent than needed.
10. Learn to Sew: In addition to being a rewarding creative hobby, learning to sew means you can make your own minor alterations, mend simple problems, and get longer wear from your favorite wardrobe items. In addition, there are a wealth of great tutorials online to make old items new with a few minor changes.
11. Pick a Palette: Have you ever bought a new shirt, only to find that it doesn’t match anything in your closet and you need to buy new pants to go with it too? Keeping your entire wardrobe within a color palette helps stop this from happening. Select a group of colors that work well together and compliment your natural coloring. You’ll get more use out of clothing that goes well with items you already own.
12. Shop Second Hand: Check out your local second-hand shop or consignment store for amazing bargains on clothes for the whole family. In addition, consider consigning your gently used threads if you no longer wear them.
13. Swap it Out: A great way to refresh your wardrobe without spending much is to organize a clothing swap with several friends who all wear similar sizes and styles. Get together once a month and swap out those fashions you’re bored with. It’s a fun way to “shop” without heading to the mall. Bonus: You get to spend some fun time with friends and feel financially responsible too!
14. Traditional or Trendy?: It’s important to build a basic wardrobe out of more traditional pieces, which you can carry over from year to year or season to season. Liven up these basics by throwing in trendy accessories. When buying new clothes, consider the number of wears you’re likely to get out of an item. It makes sense to spend more on classic wardrobe items like suits or a good pair of jeans so that you don’t have to replace them as often. But the hottest trends are likely to be replaced in a year or less, so it’s usually safe to buy lower-quality (and cheaper!) versions of these items, since you’re unlikely to want to wear them long-term anyway.
By Holly M, contributing writer