Think of your average clothing shopping trip.
You get home and, all of a sudden, you look around and see the nine bags you carried in from the car and you think to yourself, “Wait… these cannot be all of my bags!?”…
…Three months go by and two items you purchased are in your weekly rotation, five have been worn once or twice, and two still have tags on them—shoved way to the side on the clothing rack in your closet.
The issue with this is that those items worn once, twice, or never at all are a waste of money. Even if that top you wore once was $11, that is an expensive one time use fee!
If this happens to you often, you need to sharpen your shopping skills.
Hey, I have been there before! Heck, I still fall into this pitfall from time-to-time. But, if you actively start to implement good shopping strategies soon you will start to save more money each year.
Practice this exercise:
- Go to your closet now.
- Add up the prices of all of the clothing items that you wore twice or less.
- That amount is money that you could have saved this year.
- Are you ready to start being a more savvy shopper?
Take a look at my 8 strategies that will save you money when shopping for clothes in the future:
Strategies to Save You Money When Shopping for Clothes
1. Make a list & stick to it
A bad habit to get into is going shopping just because you are bored. Going shopping just because is an easy way to waste money. Pro tip: just flush it down the toilet. It is a lot quicker and you will save gas money, too—win, win! But, seriously… get used to making a list.
When you make a list of exactly what you need, it will help you focus on what exactly you are searching for during your trip in order to help you save money when shopping for clothes. Also, try to get out of the habit of walking into stores when they don’t serve a purpose on your list. You’ll most likely end up spending money you really didn’t need to in the first place.
Practicing these tips will help you make less purchases based on impulse. Impulse buys are usually the ones that leave you with buyer’s remorse or they’re the items that camp out in your closet with the tags on them for years. So, get in the habit of making lists before you leave the house to shop and before you open your computer to do some online shopping.
2. Buy within your means—but, not just because it is on sale
A big part of shopping savvy is knowing how much money you actually should be spending in order to save money when shopping for clothes. First off, you should be actively budgeting every month to know how much money is going in and out. Part of that budget should be spending money or an actual amount you dedicate for buying clothing—however you work your budget out.
If you are reading this post, you most likely don’t have an unlimited fund that allows you to buy whatever you want at any time. So, give yourself a number for your shopping trip and don’t let yourself go over it! If you have to, for some reason, make sure it comes out of your spending money for the next month. Just don’t get in the habit of doing this every month!
Also, don’t fall into the clearance and sale pitfall. Now, I am not saying they’re not worth the hunt. I have bought many items on sale and clearance. But, you have to know when the clearance sale is worth it and when you’re actually falling for sale tactics. Don’t fall for the sale scheme… “Blowout sale! Ends tomorrow!” Many times, it is just a hype and the items on sale are the ones no one is buying regularly, anyway.
3. Know when to buy expensive
Another way to save money when shopping for clothes is to buy expensive items. Yes… you read that right. But, I am not saying that ALL of the items in your closet should break the bank. Remember, we are still trying to focus on staying within your budget. But, the key is know what items you should be splurging on in order to save money when shopping for clothes.
Remember that quality is more important than quantity. Getting 8 shirts for $100 sounds incredible! But, if the quality of those shirts is terrible and they won’t survive more than three washes… is it really worth the price? That $80 well-made, comfortable shirt that you will wear 50 times is wayyyy more worth it than a $15 shirt you’ll wear twice… before it falls apart in the washing machine.
Now, what are you supposed to buy expensive? Staple items. Things that you know that you will wear over and over. It all depends on the fabrics you like and items you require to be high quality. For me? I always splurge on pants and shoes. Why? I like to invest in comfort and these always get the most wear for me.
4. Ask yourself every time: Do I NEED this?
The problem with shopping for many people, especially women (let’s be real now… you know it’s true!) is that we buy many things often just because. We see that stunning outfit on the manikin or what your favorite blogger is wearing on their insta today.
You think to yourself…”OMG yes… I need this now!” A quick 1-2-3 and you just bought yourself a $150 bag that you were not budgeting for this month. You get it in the mail five days later and you actually might not have buyers remorse (but, many of us often do!). How many times has this happened and you barely end up using the item? 1, 2, 20 times… this year?
You need to start getting in-tuned and honest with yourself. Before you purchase an item, have a little internal dialogue in order to save money when shopping for clothes. Ask yourself… “Do I really need this? Can I realistically see myself using this item regularly? Can I afford this based on the amount of times I will use it?” If you can answer yes to all of those, you are most likely making a great purchase! If not, move on sista. Your bank account will do a little happy dance.
5. Know your personal style & shop with that in mind
To help save money when shopping for clothes, you must be in tune with your own personal style. Not the way the girl you work with dresses. Or the model on the front of that magazine. By your twenties, you most likely have developed an overall sense of dress for yourself: both the work-style you and the way you dress on the weekends.
Why is this important? Many people waste money when buying items that are “trendy.” Plenty of styles come and go within a year or less. I know that I can look at about 5 items I bought last year and I think to myself, “what was I thinking!?” That happened because I was thinking about trends and not my own personal look when I went shopping. You want to avoid this pitfall in order to save money when shopping for clothes.
Instead, focus on items that you always search for in your closet. The ones you are constantly putting through the laundry every week. Those brands and clothing items are the ones that you should invest in. Why? Because you will ACTUALLY wear them and they will be worth the money you spend on them.
6. Have your coupons ready
I grew up to believe that coupons were a must when you went shopping. I still have the same mindset now, in my twenties. Yes, I will buy items full-priced if I know that they will get their use. But, if I have had my eye on something for a while and it can be purchased from a company that sends out coupons once in a while, I will be patient.
I get a few printed coupons to my favorite stores in the mail throughout each month. Every time one comes, I put it in a coupon box I keep in my office closet. Whenever I am about to go shopping for clothes, I always venture into that box to help save money when shopping for clothes. I practice this, too, using coupons sent digitally to me through e-mail.
Also, I always check to see if there are promo codes online or on my shopping apps (CouponSherpa & RetailMeNot are my go-to apps). Sometimes, the digital promo codes are better so I will opt for online shopping instead! They don’t always let you use them in stores. Be sure to read the fine print!
7. Use the 70/30 rule when shopping
Another simple way to save money when shopping for clothes is to try to focus on the 70/30 rule. By trying to stick to this rule, you will focus your spending towards items that you will actually wear the most. In turn, it will give you a bang for your buck!
The 70/30 shopping rule means that 70% of your clothing should be items that can be versatile and worn throughout all seasons. These items will most likely be t-shirts, jeans, undergarments, and various layering items. My key is to keep the colors neutral so you don’t get items that are too “wintery” or “summery” looking.
The other 30% should be seasonal items that are only needed in certain temperatures. This includes your bathing suits, snow boots, rompers, summer coverup dresses, heavy knit sweaters, etc. These items will most likely be used the least, so you should not overstock. Trying to stick to this rule will help you as you start to save money when shopping for clothes.
8. Be OK with leaving empty-handed or changing your mind
Many times, people plan shopping trips in advance. I cannot lie, I get very excited when I know I am putting aside hours of a day (or a whole day) to shopping. Everyone likes to get a few new things for their closet once in a while! But, a key to saving money when you shop for clothes is accepting that you will not always find something.
This can be hard… but, don’t feel obligated to always buy something just because you made a trip to the mall or because you online shopped for an hour plus. Sometimes, it just isn’t in the cards. Stores are sold out of items you wanted or you just couldn’t find items that fit your personal style. It’s OK! Don’t be afraid to leave empty-handed.
Also, become someone who loves to return. I know so many people that buy clothes and won’t return them because they are either too lazy or feel awkward bringing something back to the store. It is OK to have buyer’s remorse or realize a piece didn’t fit you as well when you tried it on one more time at home! Personally, I love returning and it is a key to helping me save money when shopping for clothes
What tips do you use when trying to save money when shopping for clothes?
Let me know in the comments below!