8 Clever Ways To Stop Wasting Money on Clothes

Beautiful young asian woman browsing and looking to buy summer clothes in a women's boutique.
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You can easily spend thousands of dollars per year on clothing — especially if you are buying clothing for multiple family members. And if you aren’t careful about where, when and how you shop, you could end up paying top dollar for clothing items that you could get at a substantial discount elsewhere. 

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To stop wasting money on clothes, take note of these clever tips from industry experts that will help you slash your clothing budget and keep more of your hard-earned money in the bank. 

Stalk the Clearance Aisle

“Target and Walmart always have clearance clothing items,” said Paul Moyer of SavingFreak. “While Target’s discounting is predictable, Walmart discounts items in a way that seems almost arbitrary. With each store, you will have to check regularly but you can get discounts of 75% or more. I have purchased packs of athletic socks for me or the kids for $1 at Walmart on three different occasions.”

Make Your Money Work for You

Use Alternative Marketplaces and Negotiate With Sellers Directly

Lauren Anastasio, director of financial advice at Stash, started out selling her work wardrobe for extra cash on Poshmark when she changed industries. However, she quickly realized that she could score some great deals on like-new clothes on alternative shopping sites. 

“In many cases the clothes are still new with tags and may be sold by someone who simply changed their minds or employees who buy sale items with their employee discount and then sell in bulk online,” Anastasio said. “Using alternative shopping sites like Poshmark, eBay, Mercari and even Facebook Marketplace can help save you a ton of money if you’re patient and willing to haggle with sellers.”

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Embrace the Capsule Wardrobe

“A capsule wardrobe is basically one made up of items that can be mixed and matched to create appropriate outfits from season to season,” said consumer analyst Julie Ramhold with DealNews. “This means you don’t have to worry about trendy pieces every year, but rather focus on classic looks that never go out of style and you always love to wear. This also means you won’t have random unitasker pieces; that is, you won’t have something that really only fits for one occasion. By going this route, it makes shopping for clothes easier, as your wardrobe will be streamlined so it’ll be easier to look for items that fit within it.”

Make Your Money Work for You

Buy Quality Clothing When You Can Afford To Do So

“Fast fashion is super popular but often the items don’t hold up to long-term wear,” Ramhold said. “If you can afford to buy quality clothing, it’ll cost more up front, but you should be able to wear the pieces for literally years to come. If you’re building a capsule wardrobe, this is especially important to try to do, as filling it with cheaper pieces means you’ll have to replace them more often depending on how fast they wear out.”

Swap Clothing With Friends

“Consider planning a closet swap with friends for any clothing items you no longer want,” said Tiara Rea-Palmer, director of partnerships at CouponFollow. “Encourage friends to bring accessories and shoes so that everyone is more likely to participate and have fun with it! Plan a ‘runway show’ and incorporate a potluck to save money on food and drinks.”

Make Your Money Work for You

Buy Direct-to-Consumer 

“When your go-to stores don’t have your ideal price point, look into direct-to-consumer retailers,” said Rebecca Gramuglia, consumer expert at TopCashback. “Companies like Quince, Everlane and Warby Parker are able to lower their prices because they’ve cut out the middleman. By shopping at these types of stores, you can get significant discounts on quality goods.”

Borrow Clothes for Special Occasions

“If you have a friend who’s the same size as you, ask if you can borrow a dress or accessory for that wedding or class reunion,” said Gigi Lehman, editor of Living on the Cheap. “Most people are flattered to be asked. I borrowed a great vintage sheath for my class reunion and didn’t have to worry about anyone else having the same outfit. I also lent a friend a shawl to wear with her dress to a wedding. It goes without saying that you should have borrowed clothing professionally cleaned before you return it.”

Shop at Costco

“Costco is a great place to shop for clothes,” Lehman said. “In 2019, they sold $7 billion of apparel more than Old Navy! I get compliments all the time on the clothes and shoes I buy at Costco. I’ve never had buyer’s remorse, only non-buyer’s remorse, because most clothing items aren’t restocked once they’re gone. The store has no fitting rooms, but they have a great return policy. Also, be sure to check online because some items, sizes and colors may be available there and not in your local warehouse.”

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About the Author

Cynthia Measom is a personal finance writer and editor with over 12 years of collective experience. Her articles have been featured in MSN, AOL, Yahoo Finance, INSIDER, Houston Chronicle, The Seattle Times and The Network Journal. She attended the University of Texas at Austin and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English.

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