Shopping for clothes can be extremely tricky, if you care about how you look, how your clothing feels, and depending on the job you have. Luckily, the holidays are right around the corner, and do you know what that means? Sales on clothes!
Depending on what you’re looking for, some times of the year are better to buy certain clothes. For instance, work clothes (professional pants, jackets, etc.) and warmer weather clothes (thicker sweaters, casual jackets, etc.) are mostly on sale right now, making a great time to pick up some classic, quality clothes to keep you warm and round out your professional clothes closet.
On the other hand, casual clothes and summertime clothes (think: cooler fabrics, shorts, t-shirts) usually go on sale during the “shoulder seasons” like spring and fall, making right now not a great time to purchase these types of items.
As someone who has distinct parts of my closet for “warm” clothes, “cool/summer” clothes, casual clothes, and professional work clothes, I’ve become somewhat of an expert in rounding out my closet while not spending a ton of money. In fact, I rarely spend more than $300 a year filling out my wardrobe – and that means everything. I usually only make it $300 if I decide to splurge or if some of my timeless clothes are looking worn out and need to be replaced.
So how can you get a great wardrobe on a budget? Check out my top tips below!
Hoard Coupons Like It’s Your Job
Lots of places send out coupons during the holiday season. If you have a favorite store, make sure you’ve signed up for their mailing list, and check your email and mailbox frequently for sales or coupons for “$10 off when you spend $50.”
In addition, buy gift cards! Right now is the time to take advantage of promotions, like “buy an $100 gift card and get $20 for you!” Instead of gifting that gift card to someone else, keep it – you now have $120 to spend at your favorite store. Note: only do this for stores you frequently visit! Places like Macy’s or another retailer that stocks a lot of clothing options are best if you don’t have a “favorite” store, because you’re very likely to find something at Macy’s vs. a boutique store you aren’t familiar with.
Go Thrift Store Shopping!
But make sure you know the best places to shop 🙂 Conventional wisdom says thrift stores, like Goodwill, are the best in expensive neighborhoods. While this is somewhat true, everyone knows this and all the best stuff is picked over quickly. Unfortunately, some people make it their job to re-sell good quality clothing they find at Goodwill, which makes it really hard for someone trying to stock their closet on a budget.
Do some investigation on the best thrift stores in your city. Visit Yelp and type in “thrift store” + “your city” to see what people are saying, and pay attention to the date. You want to visit thrift stores that get positive reviews within a 1 year window. If reviews are older than 1 year, and the place hasn’t been updated, it may be picked over and not a great place to go for quality clothes on a budget anymore.
While thrift stores can be hit or miss, it’s still worth it to go when you have free time, especially for more of your casual clothes or things like jackets and gloves. Clothing like that is typically more gently worn than professional clothes, like blouses, and the thrift store prices are pretty unbeatable.
Buy for Quality, Not Quantity
When you go shopping at a major retailer, not a thrift store, and you see the prices for professional jackets or sweaters, your jaw might drop. $90 for a blazer? $100 for professional work pants? That’s not worth it, right? Unfortunately, not quite. That $90 blazer you buy in 2014 might last you until 2017, and those work pants could take you 2 years depending on how tough you are on your clothes.
Once you calculate what $90 is divided over 2 or 3 years ($45 and $30 respectively), you start to realize that those wall-made pants or sturdy blazer is actually a very good purchase. You shouldn’t justify every purchase you make, but professional clothes are one type of item you’ll need to splurge on.
Always Maintain Your Clothes to Grow Your Closet
Take care of your clothes! Notice how I just mentioned a blazer or professional pants can last you 2 years or more? Only if you take care of them! This means paying attention to the care information on the tag of your clothes. If it says cold wash, delicate only – then cold wash, delicate only! You’ll also want to turn your clothes inside out when you wash them, and close all buttons and zippers to keep them from getting caught and tearing.
Your clothes see you through a lot, and they protect you from a lot as well. They can be expensive, so you should take care of them to respect your wallet. By getting a full season’s (or longer) use from them, you’ll stretch your clothing budget and ensure you’re not spending $1,000 or more each year on clothes.
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What are your favorite tips for building a closet on a budget?