Staying on trend but also on a tight budget can be tricky. But if you know the right places to go then you can keep up with your most fashionable friends without having to break the bank.
We’ve found six places you can get clothes on the cheap. For each we’ll tell you the good, bad and the useful so you can save money on your clobber.
1. Charity shops
The good: Getting clothes from a charity shop is one of those situations where everybody wins. You can pick up a bargain for very little money, the charity can use the money you spend for good and the person donating has got rid of something they didn’t want.
The bad: The major drawback of charity shops is that they’re only as good as the stuff they get donated to them. If you find the perfect pair of trousers but they’re not in your size then you’re stumped.
The useful: Charity shops in posh towns tend to have classier clothes donated to them (use the charity shop finder to help you plan). Take a day trip to your nearest fancy pants town and fill your boots!
2. Budget high street shops
The good: Mat in the MoneyAware team swears by his ‘Pri-mani’ wardrobe. He can go shopping with twenty quid and come back with bags stuffed with enough clothes to get him through the season. If you’ve got a good eye then you can pick up the latest trends for a fraction of the cost in other shops.
The bad: Clothes from these types of shops are cheap and sometimes it means the quality isn’t there. I’d recommend braving the changing rooms and trying on anything you want to buy – this way you can check for any dodgy stitching or bits that bulge where they shouldn’t!
The useful: Trying to get around cheap clothes shops on a Saturday afternoon can have a similar feel to being in a scrum at a jumble sale (which is another place to get cheap clothes!). You’ll have a far more pleasant trip if you time your visit for when it’s a bit quieter, like on a weekday or early on Saturday morning.
3. High street sales shopping
The good: Buying your clothes in the sales means that you can pick up some massive bargains and stretch your budget. This can be a way to dress in the big brands that are usually too expensive for any self-respecting frugalista to wear.
The bad: My dad delights in telling me how much he’s saved on the latest shirt. The only problem is that he often ends up wearing some right tat because he thinks he’s getting a good deal (like the time he bought some tangerine coloured trousers). High street sales are often a chance for shops to clear out the weird and wonderful stuff they can’t shift any other time of year – make sure you shop wisely.
The useful: If you’ve got a favourite shop then it’s a good idea to get friendly with an assistant and see if they’ll tell you when they’re planning their next big sale.
The good: It might feel a bit weird to check out a new pair of shoes alongside some broccoli and four tins of beans but don’t knock it; supermarkets have some pretty cheap clothes.
The bad: The choice of clothes available at supermarkets will depend on the size of store but many don’t have vast amounts to pick from.
The useful: Most of the supermarkets will have sales where the cheap clothes get even cheaper. Sainsbury’s regularly have 25% off sales, so keep an eye out for special offers.
The good: eBay can provide some really cheap clothes if you know what you’re doing. There’s a selection of new and used clothing available and if you put in the time you can save an absolute packet.
The bad: eBay doesn’t allow you to try things on before you buy them (and it can be tricky to get a refund), so you’ve got to rely on the pictures and descriptions to know if something will fit. Postage costs can also bump the price up though you can save some cash by searching for local sellers that will allow you to pop round and pick up your items.
The useful: Keep an eye out for ‘job lots’ of clothes. A friend of mine has a one-year-old daughter and picked up a big bundle of clothes for her toddler in one listing. Once her kid has outgrown them she’ll be able to sell them again to get her money back.
6. Clothes swapping parties (aka ‘swishing’)
The good: Most of us have got perfectly good clothes at the back of our wardrobes that we don’t wear. Inviting your friends round to swap your unwanted clothes is a fab craze called ‘swishing‘. It’s a great way to get some new clothes for absolutely nothing and you get to meet up with your mates in the process.
The bad: Clothes swapping parties depend on everyone being roughly the same size. It’s not going to be great for your body image issues if you invite around all your skinny friends and you can’t fit into anything they bring along. Choose your guest list carefully!
The useful: Liven up your clothes swapping party by finishing the night with a fashion show where everyone shows off their new wares. You can have a laugh while emulating your favourite top model (mine’s that one that beats up air stewardesses).
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