We all wear clothes. That’s something we pretty much have to do. Unfortunately though, clothes don’t last forever; fabrics will wear and sizes will change. What’s more, occasions may occur and job interviews pop up unexpectedly. All with one underlying theme: “I need something to wear!”
The trouble is, when you’re on a budget, buying new clothes might be the last thing on your mind. We already know there are ways to make clothes shopping cheaper, but how can we make sure the clothes we buy are actually going to last? And how can we prolong the life of clothes we already own?
I’ve been having a look on the good old internet for some shopping and clothing care tips that go the extra mile. So even if clothes shopping is the last thing on your mind when you’re on a budget, at least you can save money if you do need to shop, and hopefully make the most out of clothes you do have. I’ve found the best tips and compiled them into a handy list for you.
1. Always check the label
Labels are your VIP pass into the world of clothes, answering our many garment related queries. How should I wash this jumper? What’s it even made of? Is this really 100% spandex?
The clothing label is not to be ignored. Sharing its knowledge of care instructions, it can help extend the life of your glad rags. It also reveals what the clothes are made from, which will help if you know which fabrics will last longer.
Learn how to look after fabrics and you’ll be richly rewarded with long-lasting clothes. It’s much more frugal than buying something, shrinking it and then making the same mistake throughout your entire adult life so far (oh, the shame). Here’s a handy guide to fabric care that might help to save you some pennies.
Those little clothes label symbols can be a real eye-opener too. Get to grips with clothing label hieroglyphics and save yourself a washing related disaster with your fine knowledge of laundry care.
Check the labels of your clothes to make sure you can get every penny out of them!
2. Avoid trends
You heard! I don’t want you to be trendy. I’m sick of you hipsters in your fancy clothes. Actually, let’s not be hasty. You can be trendy, but only if the trend will last at least another few years, thus making it an investment and not a splurge.
You may be tempted to buy a pair of flared, paisley trousers (apparently trendy this year) but in the long run, will you really be wearing them come next year? Or even next season? When it’s raining and the flares get all wet and the water runs up the trouser leg… ugh.
Invest in trends that are timeless and when you’re out shopping look for classic styles and cuts so you can wear them for longer without them ‘going out of fashion’. Unless of course you’re not bothered about being trendy anyway. That’s OK too because you can pretty much buy whatever you want then, as long as you make sure the fabric is up to standard.
3. Charity shops in ‘posh’ areas
We’ve spoken about looking for good quality fabrics. The thing is, sometimes those fabrics come at a price that’s not always a realistic option. Enter the charity shop. The Aladdin’s cave of clothes shops, some fabulous and some… well there’s a clear reason they’ve been discarded.
Either way, charity shops can be full of high quality clothes at cheaper prices (with the added bonus of donating to charity and all that).
If you want to go the extra mile and get something super snazzy for a wedding or special occasion check out the charity shops in ‘posh’ areas. Again, if the quality’s good you’ll be able to get lots of wear out of your new find, reducing the need to buy more clothes.
Sometimes celebs even let us normal folk wear their cast-offs too. Aren’t we lucky? I’m not complaining really, a bargain’s a bargain after all!
4. Think in outfits
Look at me, being all fancy, talking about ‘outfits’ like I know about fashion! What I mean here is, when you’re buying something new, make sure it’s actually going to match the rest of your wardrobe, so you can get plenty of use out of it.
One new item, teamed with lots of old stuff, can create a host of new outfit combinations – hopefully meaning you won’t have to buy a load of other things too. Make your clothes work hard, they need to earn that place in your wardrobe!
If this is something that confuses you or you simply don’t care much about, have a look on Pinterest at these clothes matching guides and tips. Hopefully, you’ll be able to shop less and wear more of what you do buy. Hi-fives all round.
5. Don’t fear the stain
A stain can be a terrifying thing. What is it? Why is it there? When did it happen? Did anyone see it? So many questions. Don’t let a stain ruin your day (or your wardrobe).
Spills could mean your clothes are potentially ruined by a particularly selfish and stubborn stain, leaving you with having to replace it and buy something new. Damn that typical stain-like behaviour.
Stain removal knowledge will hopefully stop you having to fork out for something new every time the jam in a doughnut falls down your top. Or bolognese sauce falls into your lap and you ignored your mum’s advice about using a napkin. Anyway, here’s a guide to removing stains. Messy eaters rejoice!
You could also have a go at making your own stain remover to save money on expensive cleaning products. Although I’d definitely suggest testing this on something old first to be absolutely sure it works.
6. Sale away
If you know you need to buy new clothes for a specific event, check out the sales to see if you can get the best bargain you can. Most UK retailers have January sales (in December), mid season sales (March and September) and around summertime there’s likely to be a sneaky end of season sale too.
Don’t forget discount codes for online shops too… it’s as though retailers don’t actually want us to buy full price anyway. Always search for discounts before you buy online!
Keep an eye out for high street sales, get to know their habits and act accordingly. Why buy something full price when there’s a chance it could be reduced in a few weeks? If you are going to buy something full price, see if you can get free delivery if you buy it online and then use a cashback site to at least get some money back. The retailers haven’t won yet!
7. Quality counts
We’ve already talked about fabrics, so now the focus is on how the garment is put together and how it fits. It’s pointless to have a wardrobe full of bad clothes that you don’t wear because they fit strangely or can’t wear because they’ve all fallen apart.
I know it’s not always realistic to pay high quality prices, especially when you’re on a budget. However, if you’re able to save something each month towards clothing, it’s important to know what to look out for when you do go shopping. This guide to spotting quality clothing highlights some of the things you can look out for whether you’re buying brand new or second hand.
It’s also handy to know what sizes to look for as clothing sizes vary between shops, for example a medium in one shop could be a small in another. This size guide will help you find what size is best suited to you in various retailers.
8. Shop in another department
This tip is more useful to females. Often when I’ve been clothes shopping, I’ve found that a similar item is actually cheaper in the male section of the shop. Very sneaky! This tends to apply to basic items, such as t-shirts, jeans, jumpers and shirts. So it’s always worth a look, especially if you’ve got time to try on your finds to compare fits.
9. A stitch in time
Again, while this is not a shopping trick as such, it’s potentially a way to stop you having to spend money on new clothes by saving old ones.
The saying ‘a stitch in time saves nine’ is not one to be ignored! Learning to fix a broken zip or sewing up a hole can obviously help your clothes last a little bit longer. It’s also a great skill to have!
Sometimes, this is a little bit easier said than done, so this post about mending or altering clothes may be of some help.
Don’t forget, there are lots of other ways you can make your clothes last longer too.
10. Know your iron
It’s 2015; we should really have crease free clothes by now. Unfortunately, though, there’s always something in the wardrobe that lets the team down and turns into a crumpled mess when it’s washed.
It’s important to know what settings to put your iron on when ironing various fabrics. Just last week I burnt a hole in one of my favourite tops because the iron was too hot and last night the same thing happened to a dress of mine. I really needed those clothes and now I have to fork out to replace them. Not very thrifty at all.
I should never have trusted that iron, or myself to be able to iron like a real adult. In the future, I’ll certainly check the settings and use this handy ironing guide to prevent ruining any more clothes.
Also, to avoid staining your clothes you should probably give your iron a clean every so often too. This will hopefully prevent the iron ‘dragging’ on fabrics.
Hopefully these tips will help save you some money while shopping for clothes. If you are doing a spot of shopping on a whim, remember the MoneyAware mantra:
Do you have any clothing tips to help make the most of your wardrobe when you’re on a budget? Let us know in the comments below!