Do you want to know how to save money on clothes?
Well, you’re not alone.
Lots of us love shopping for clothes, but the cost of it can have a real impact on our wallet if we’re not careful.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, on average, Americans spend $1,700 on clothes annually.
Unless you’re made of money, you’d want to dress for less.
Fortunately, there are plenty of tips and tricks you can use to make shopping for apparel a whole lot cheaper.
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In today’s post, I’m going to give you a complete guide on how to save money on clothes and accessories (even a few ways to get free clothes or at least as close as you can get to it!)
I’ll cover ways to:
- Save money when you’re shopping
- Buy clothes when you have little money
- Get the most out of your clothes so you don’t have to buy them as often.
Give these tips a try and you’ll be able to have a stylish, practical closet that doesn’t cost you a fortune.
What will I learn?
How to Save Money When Shopping for Clothes
You want to go clothes shopping, but you don’t want to spend a lot of money.
So, what can you do?
In this section, I’m going to give you tried and tested tips that’ll save you money next time you go shopping for clothing.
1. Buy stuff that suits your style
My number one tip is to only buy stuff that suits your style.
That means that before you even set foot in a store or browse a clothing website, you should define your style.
I know what works for me and what colors I like to wear.
At 5’8, overly fussy clothes, with bows and frills or anything overly patterned just don’t suit me as I’m on the taller side.
I like to stick with a fairly neutral pallet of black, grey, and white, and then throw in a couple of colors that I know suit me, which are usually variants of red, and burgundy.
And that’s it. When buying clothes, I don’t tend to stray from those colors.
So, it’s really important to know what suits you and what you like to wear.
Now, I’m going to tell you why defining your style and sticking with pieces that suit it will save you a lot of money.
A couple of times, I’ve been browsing online, and I’ve seen a piece of clothing, but it’s not my style.
For example, I saw a pastel pink dress, with a flap on the front that wrapped around. I thought, well that’s not really my style, but let’s try something different. I bought it, it didn’t suit me, and it was a total waste of money, and I had to pay to return it.
I’ve found that any time I see a piece of clothing that isn’t my usual style, but I buy it anyway thinking maybe it’ll suit me and it’ll be nice to try something different, it doesn’t pan out.
I know what suits me, I know what colors and cuts I like, so I should just stick to them.
Doing so means that I don’t waste money.
Define your style, be confident and comfortable with it, and stick with it.
Doing this also helps you to create a wardrobe on the cheap, bringing me to my next point…
2. Think about what your wardrobe needs, rather than what you want
One of the things I’ve discovered over the years is that you should buy what your wardrobe needs, rather than what you want.
To find out what your wardrobe needs, ask yourself what you struggle to find each time you get dressed.
You might find that you have loads of jeans to choose from, but struggle to find many t-shirts or tank tops to pair with them.
In that case, you need to stock up on tank tops.
I’d write a list of the clothes you have. This will help you to see where your wardrobe is lacking and find those categories where you don’t need to add any more.
Next time you go shopping, you’ll be able to purchase those pieces you actually need and won’t waste money adding another pair of jeans to the ten pairs you already have at home!
3. Shop the clearance section online and offline
When I come to buy something, I always look at the clearance section of a website first. The same goes when I’m shopping in-store.
I do most of my clothes shopping online. Having a quick scan of the sale or clearance section first has saved me a lot of cash. If I know I’m looking to buy a sweater, for example, I’ll see if there’s one I like in the sale section first before I browse the rest of the site.
You won’t always find the item you want, but often you will. I’ve gotten sweaters, t-shirts, and dresses for more than half price. In fact, I once got a dress that was supposed to be $300 for just $50!
While you can check clearance aisles in-store, I find that retailers have a much wider selection of sale items online.
4. But remember that cheap isn’t free
Okay, so remember I said to only buy what your closet needs, rather than what you want?
Well, keep that tip in mind when shopping the sale section. Sure, you can save a lot of money as I explained above. But, if you buy something just because it’s on sale that you weren’t planning to buy, then you’ve wasted money!
If you buy a $100 dress for $50, when you don’t need a dress, you haven’t really saved $50. You’ve spent $50 that you didn’t need to!
So, don’t buy something just because it’s on sale.
5. Avoid trends
Trends come and go fast. With new designs from the fashion houses and designers who inspire clothes you see in stores like H&M and Forever 21, coming out every autumn/winter and spring/summer, trying to keep up with trends is a quick way to burn through your budget.
Don’t buy items just because they’re currently in style. Like I said at the start of the article, define your style and stick to clothes that suit you.
You’ll find that if you buy something that looks trendy now, it’ll look dated by the end of the year. It won’t get much wear, and that’s a waste of money. When you avoid trends, you can develop a timeless style.
And you won’t have to part with cash each time a new season rolls around.
6. Buy inexpensive basics
I like a good spaghetti strap tank top because you can pair them with everything when it’s hot during the summer, and wear them as an extra layer under a sweater to stay warm in the winter.
Would I pay a ton for one though? Nope. I like to buy plain tank tops from lower-cost stores, like H&M, Target, and Old Navy.
Your basics don’t need to have a designer label or be from a well-known brand. They’re basics!
When it comes down to it, a tank top is a tank top, and a pair of leggings is a pair of leggings.
I’d highly recommend that you buy basics from generic brands.
So, stuff like:
- Sweat pants
- Tank tops
Doing this will save you a lot of money. Plus, these basic items tend to be versatile. So, they pair well with a lot of your other clothing items and you’ll get a lot of wear out of them.
7. Skip the expensive workout gear
Workout gear is one area where people waste a lot of cash. Brands like Nike and Adidas are so expensive, and really, you’re paying for the name.
You can pay just $15 for a hoodie from Old Navy and you’d pay about $50 for one from a well-known brand like Adidas.
The thing is you don’t need branded workout gear. A hoodie is a hoodie. A pair of track pants is a pair of track pants.
You’ll get the same workout, regardless of whether you’re wearing a fancy outfit from a well-known brand or an old t-shirt and sweatpants.
So, pass on brands like Nike and Adidas and buy your workout gear at cheaper places, like Target, Walmart, and Kohl’s.
8. Shop at discount stores like TJ MAXX
Discount stores can be a treasure trove of quality clothes.
I’ve found lots of great pieces at low prices at TJ Maxx, Ross, and Marshalls.
My grandmother is notoriously fussy when it comes to clothes, and I bought her a sweater for Christmas from TJ Maxx, and she loved it!
I’d recommend you take your time searching through racks, as there is a lot of stuff in these stores that are not that great.
But you can find some diamonds in the rough if you take the time to search through a bit.
9. Women should consider buying from the men’s section
Sadly, men’s clothes are still often cheaper than women’s. That’s why I sometimes check out the men’s section. I’ve bought pajamas from the men’s section before, and they were way cheaper!
Things like pajamas, t-shirts, and hoodies are pretty universal, so don’t be afraid to check the racks in the men’s section first.
If you’re petite, consider looking at the kid’s section! My sister who is only about 5’2 often looks in the kids/teenager section and gets some great finds at low prices.
10. Install Wikibuy and automatically get the best prices, coupons and more
You should definitely install Wikibuy if you’re shopping for clothes online.
It’s a browser extension.
Install it, and it’ll find you great deals for online retailers. It will automatically compare prices when you’re shopping on Amazon with other retailers, like Walmart and Target.
So, you can make sure that you get the best deal.
That’s not all though.
The extension will also find coupons for you, with the click of the “try codes” button. It will test out coupons to find one that actually works.
Now, this is so useful when you’re buying clothes online.
You know how annoying it is to try coupon after coupon before you get one that actually works!
Coupon codes are updated in real-time, based on which ones save other customers the most money.
Another great aspect of Wikibuy is that you can earn credits when you buy stuff on sites like Walmart and eBay. You can exchange these credits for gift cards!
I did a full review of Wikibuy, which you can read here.
11. Shop at thrift stores
Okay, so if you don’t mind wearing secondhand clothes, you might want to visit your local thrift store.
Lots of people I know get their clothes from thrift stores, and they’re in pretty good condition. My sister, for example, picked up a flannel shirt for just $5!
Now, thrift stores do have a lot of junk, but if you have a good dig through, you’ll likely find a great piece for your closet.
Obviously, some stores that sell used clothing are focused on vintage clothing, which is more expensive. Stick with your regular thrift store for some great deals.
12. Buy clothes when they’re out of season
One of the things that have saved me the most money on clothes is buying them when they’re out of season.
Here’s what I mean by that:
A swimsuit is going to be much cheaper to buy in the winter than it is in the summer.
And a sweater is going to be much cheaper to buy in the summer than in is in the winter.
That’s because these clothes aren’t necessarily in demand all year round.
So, stock up on sweaters in July and get your swimsuit in December.
It sounds funny, but it works. I once got a dress worth $100 for just $50 because I bought it in November when it wasn’t really the season for dresses.
I find that lots of stores put items on sale when they’re off-season.
So, consider what your closet needs and buy those items in the off-season. Not only will you save money, but you’ll also be prepared for the next season!
13. Check washing and care instructions before you buy
I hate clothes that need to be dry cleaned. I never buy them because it’s not just the initial cost of actually buying the item of clothing that you have to consider. You also have to pay every time you want to get the thing cleaned, and you have the hassle of getting to the dry cleaners.
Instead, go for something you can wash yourself at home.
This saves you so much money.
Read the label before you buy an item of clothing.
Doing this will tell you whether it’s something you’ll keep paying for because it’s dry clean only or whether you can wash it at home, saving you a lot of money.
14. Use coupon sites
If you wanna spend less on what you wear, this is a no brainer. Coupon websites are awesome because they offer great deals on tons of different clothing stores and retailers who sell clothes.
You’ll find coupons for places like:
- Old Navy
- Forever 21
Some of these deals offer great discounts.
Here are some awesome coupon sites:
15. Shop with a discount gift card!
Imagine getting free money to spend on clothes?
Well, with discount gift cards you can!
Gift card resale sites sell gift cards for a lower price than what they’re worth.
This means you can pay just $20 for a $30 gift card.
How great is that?
You have $30 to spend on clothes even though you only paid $20 for the gift card!
Discounts do vary, but you can find some pretty awesome deals for lots of different retailers.
Here are some great sites for buying discounted gift cards:
16. Buy clothes that fit you now
Always buy what fits you now. Some people are looking to lose weight, so they buy stuff that will fit after their planned weight loss. But buying stuff that doesn’t fit you now often results in an item sitting unused in your closet.
Plus, you might find that when you exercise, you put on muscle. So sometimes even when you lose a little fat, you may gain some muscle. So, your body composition might change, but you’ll wear the same size.
It’s better to wear clothes that are comfortable for you now, rather than thinking about items you might need in the future.
If do you happen to lose weight in the future, you can then buy clothes that fit your new shape.
Buy the right size for you now, and you won’t waste money on stuff that you can’t wear.
17. Rent items you need for a special occasion
Consider renting an item if you only need it as a one-off.
My husband wanted to wear a kilt when we got married, but he had no need for one after the wedding.
Rather than buying the kilt, the jacket, the brogues and all the other accessories to go with it, he instead rented the full outfit for a much lower price than it would have cost to buy.
If you need an outfit that you’re probably only going to wear once, rent it instead.
Of course, there are those items that you don’t wear every day but will need on multiple occasions throughout the years – chiefly a suit!
You may not want to pay for a suit for your friend’s upcoming wedding so you may be considering renting it instead.
However, it’s likely that in the next few years, you’ll have the need for a suit again, such as for weddings, funerals, christenings, and other formal occasions.
Instead of paying to rent a suit each time, buy one instead.
Buy a classic suit, it will stay in style for years to come, and you won’t have to part with money each time you need a suit.
18. Shop on online resale sites like Poshmark
Sites like Poshmark allow people to sell their used clothing online.
This means that you can find a ton of great used clothes at awesome prices online. You can shop millions of closets according to Poshmark.
- Visit Poshmark here.
Another great site to browse is thredUP. It’s an online consignment and thrift store where you can find your favorite brands at up to 90% off.
- Visit thredUP here.
If you’re looking for clothes from well-known brands, but you don’t want to spend a lot of money, then you should definitely have a look on Poshmark and thredUP.
How to Buy a Lot of Clothes When You Have Little Money
Adding to your closet can be tough when you have little money to spend.
If your budget is tight, trying to shop for clothes seems impossible.
Handily enough, there are a few ways that you can free up some cash in your budget to spend on clothes.
Here’s how to buy a lot of clothes with little money.
19. Sell your unwanted clothing
My first tip is to sell what you already have. Most of us have clothes that we just never wear, whether it’s that dress that you just don’t find the occasion for or that pair of jeans that just don’t fit quite right.
Instead of just leaving these clothes in the back of the closet, sell them instead.
You can use the money that you make to buy new clothes.
And don’t worry, you don’t need to host a garage sale, or try to sell on eBay either.
No, you now have lots of websites and apps that are dedicated to selling clothes.
On these consignment websites and online thrift stores, you can list your clothes for sale and get them in front of thousands of people across the country.
Here are some great places for selling your clothes:
20. Sell other stuff
You can also sell other stuff and use that cash to buy clothes.
You can sell everything from furniture to books!
These sites are great for selling a variety of items and for selling stuff locally:
Sell your old DVDs here:
Sell your used electronics, like old phones and tablets, here:
Sell your used books here:
There’s lots of places you can sell stuff. The best part is that there are now sites out there dedicated to selling everything from DVDs to electronics, so you really can sell lots of different things online.
Declutter your home a little and make some money in the process that you can use to buy clothes.
21. Get gift cards by uploading your receipts
My next tip is to make money from your receipts!
Yes, your receipts. They’re kind of annoying and just take up space in your wallet.
However, there are apps that’ll actually pay you for your receipts.
With them, you browse offers in the app, purchase the item featured in the offer, and when you upload a photo of your receipt, you get paid.
Another app to consider is ReceiptPal. This one pays you for any itemized receipt, rather than for purchasing specific items like Ibotta and Checkout51 do.
These apps pay you with money to your PayPal account or gift cards!
So, you can use this cash or these gift cards to buy clothes!
22. Get free gift cards and cash from Swagbucks to spend on clothes!
One of my favorite ways to get money to spend on clothes is doing fun tasks on Swagbucks.
Swagbucks is a rewards website that gives you points that are called Swag Bucks (SB) when you do easy tasks.
These tasks are super simple, and often fun, like:
- Playing games
- Watching videos
- Shopping online
- Browsing the internet
- Taking surveys
Once you earn enough points, you can redeem them for lots of different rewards, including money to your PayPal account.
Using Swagbucks basically gives you a way to get free money that you can spend on clothes.
Now, PayPal isn’t the only way to redeem your points. You can also exchange your SB for gift cards to tons of different retailers, like
- TJ Maxx
- Old Navy
- American Eagle Outfitters
- Banana Republic.
So, there’s lots of different retailers to choose from.
- Join Swagbucks here.
23. Get free cash for clothes doing surveys
Another way to get more cash and gift cards that you can use to buy clothes is to take surveys.
Anyone can get paid to take surveys.
You just need to sign up for a survey website to get started.
There are lots of survey sites you can join.
A few good sites are:
These sites will give you money or gift cards for completing surveys that you can use next time you want to purchase a new item of clothing.
To get the most out of taking surveys, I’d recommend signing up for multiple survey sites. Doing this means that you’ll have more surveys that you qualify for, and more opportunities to make money!
How to Get the Most out of Your Clothes (so You Don’t Have to Buy Them as Often!)
Above, I’ve given you lots of ways to save money when you’re clothes shopping, and tips on how to make more money that you can use to buy apparel.
One of the best ways to spend less money on clothing though is to take care of the items that are already in your closet.
When you take good care of your clothes, they last longer, meaning you don’t have to buy them as often.
Here are easy ways you can take care of your clothes and get years of use out of them
24. Line dry your clothes where possible
Nothing damages clothing quicker than the dryer in my experience.
From taking off the prints off t-shirts to shrinking my husband’s favorite hoodie the dryer sure can be unforgiving.
I find that towels, bedding, and pajamas do just fine in the dryer. Anything with a print on it, leggings, and anything made from more delicate material like lace is entirely destroyed, shrunk, or just damaged in some way by the dryer. It also damages elastics on some items.
Not only does using the dryer less cut your energy bill, but it’s also better for your wardrobe.
Try to air dry your clothing, either on the line outside if the weather permits, or on a clothes rack in a warm place in your home, rather than putting it in the dryer.
25. Don’t over-wash your clothes
This sounds a little odd, but don’t wash your clothes too often. Sure, some stuff just has to be washed after every use, like underwear, that goes without saying!
However, some items don’t need to be washed after every use.
If you get out of the shower clean, get dressed, and only wear an outfit for a short period of time, does it really need to go through the laundry again?
If you live in a warm climate, of course you will likely need to wash clothes after every wear.
But, in colder climates, or during the winter months especially, you can get away with wearing things like jeans and jackets a few times before you put them back in the laundry basket.
Washing causes friction, which wears down your clothes. Plus, the washing machine fades black clothing so quickly, meaning the more you wash it, the quicker the item looks tired and needs to be thrown out.
So, don’t wash clothing too often, and make the most of your wears between washes.
26. Be careful with delicate clothing
Although some items say on the tag that they’re machine washable, it doesn’t mean they’re indestructible.
Delicate items should be washed on a gentle cycle, and some clothing will need to be washed in cool water. This will prevent them from becoming misshapen and prevent them from shrinking.
For example, many silk or woolen items need to be washed on cooler temperatures or be hand washed.
If you wash delicate clothes gently, you’ll get years of use out of them.
27. Fold your knitwear instead of hanging it
I have learned this lesson the hard way over the years.
I’ve hung up sweaters on wire hangers with bad results.
I had a red sweater I hung on a wire hanger, and when I pulled it out to wear it, the hanger had stretched out the shoulders on it. It was annoying, to say the least.
Now, I keep my sweaters folded.
If you don’t have a place to store your knitwear folded, then go for soft hangers instead of wire ones. Wire hangers just get tangled up in the closet anyway, making them an annoyance all-around in my experience.
28. Fix the clothes you already have
Although it might seem easier to just buy new stuff, fixing the clothes you already have is a great way to save money. And you get the most out of your closet.
If you paid a decent amount of money for an item, but it doesn’t quite fit right, then take it to a tailor, or if it’s got a small hole in it, sew it yourself.
Just make sure that the cost of getting an item tailored doesn’t outweigh the cost of replacing the item with a new one.
29. Repurpose old clothes into workout gear
I said earlier to skip expensive workout gear from brands like Nike and Adidas and go for stuff from places like Target instead.
However, there’s a way to save even more money on exercise clothes, and it allows you to get even more out of what you currently have in your closet.
Look through your closet and see what clothes you have like t-shirts, leggings and hoodies that you don’t really wear anymore.
You can then repurpose these old closes into workout gear!
I do this with leggings. I wear black leggings with sweaters, so I like to have a few pairs in my closet. But, I find that they eventually fade, and don’t look too great. Rather than throwing them out, I wear them to work out.
It saves me so much money!
When I exercise, I don’t go to the gym, preferring to workout at home. That’s why I don’t bother with fancy workout gear, and I’m happy to wear an old t-shirt and a pair of faded leggings!
30. Shop your own closet
Sometimes, stuff gets buried in the back of the closet, and we totally forget we have it!
I do this with the laundry basket too!
That’s why keeping your closet organized is so important. If you keep it neat and tidy, you’ll be able to see what apparel you already have.
The next weekend you have free, organize your closet. You’ll likely find clothes that you totally forgot about. It’ll feel like you have a whole new wardrobe.
You can make the most out of the clothes you already own, and you won’t buy stuff that you just don’t need.
Use storage racks, store clothes by category, and organize with boxes from IKEA and other stores to keep everything neat and accessible.
So, keep your closet organized, and you can shop your closet and not the stores!
Happy Clothes Shopping!
Okay, so I covered three elements for saving money on clothing:
- Use these clothes shopping tips and tricks, like avoiding trends and shopping the clearance section to save money when you’re buying clothes.
- Bring in cash so you have money to spend on clothes, by doing stuff like tasks on Swagbucks and selling your unwanted apparel.
- Take good care of the stuff you already have, so you don’t have to buy new clothes quite so often.
Even if you only focus on one of these categories, you’ll really make an impact on how much you’re spending on clothes.
If you combine the tips from all three categories, you’ll save a ton, have more money to buy new clothes, and you’ll also make your wardrobe last a whole lot longer.
Let us know in the comments section below what your favorite ways are to save money on clothes.