How to save money on clothes

The average adult, age 25-34, spends $161 per month on clothing. Additionally, the average adult, age 35-44, spends $209 per month on clothing. (Source)

Can you believe that? That could be an extra $200 per month saved to your Roth IRA or $200 less owed on your student loans. Seriously?

The average family spends over $1,800 per year on clothing. Think about it, that’s a small family vacation or $1,800 that could be used for college savings. (Same source)

There are so many ways to save money on clothing. Use some of them and put that money to better use.

Keep a budget

The first thing you should do is give yourself a limit. You can only spend a specified dollar amount.

An easy way to do this is to shop with cash. You can only spend the cash you have and nothing more.

Buy generic basics

Basics are items of clothing you use regularly like tank tops and plain t-shirts.

It doesn’t make sense to buy name brand for these items because a) nobody will see them and b) they will be worn out faster and thus, replaced quickly.

Buy quality necessities

Necessities are items you need, like shoes. You may think it makes more sense to cheap out on these items, but it actually costs more.

Cheap shoes will wear out or break much sooner than a quality pair. This forces you to replace them more frequently.

A quality pair of shoes will last much longer. My grandfather used to buy Allen Edmonds dress shoes. They were expensive but lasted a very long time. They lasted so long that they needed to get resoled!

Borrow for special occasions

Does it really make sense to spend a couple hundred dollars on something you will only wear once or twice?

Plenty of people have gone to a wedding or a dance before you and probably kept what they wore. Ask them if you could borrow a dress or a suit for one night.

Skip the trends

Trends vanish as quickly as they arrive, and trying to keep up with trends makes no financial sense.

Find a style that you like and stick with it. It’ll save you money, and sooner or later, that style will be trendy again.

Shope out of season

Stores always put clothes going out of season on clearance to make room for items coming into season.

Buy swimming suits in the fall, buy winter coats in the spring, etc.

Thrift stores

Shop at thrift stores for your clothes. This is especially true for babies and growing children.

They will outgrow their clothes so quickly that it makes so much more sense to pay $5 for a shirt from Goodwill than to pay $20 for that same shirt from a department store.

I personally buy most of my clothes from Goodwill. You can find great items there and it costs so much less than clothes at other stores.

Garage sales

Much like thrift stores, clothes from garage sales are considerably less expensive than clothes from your normal store.

Keep your eyes peeled here, however. Some people who put on these garage sales are schysters and could rip you off.

Your current clothes

Take care of what you already have. If your pants need hemming, do it yourself. If you can’t sew, trade with your friend that can sew, in exchange, help them with something you’re good at.

When you have had enough of your current clothes or they’ve been worn out, do what you can to repurpose them. Turn pants into shorts, turn t-shirts into cut-offs, and turn anything into rags for cleaning around the house.

Properly store your clothes

Wash them after use. Hang clothes when you can. Don’t overstuff your drawers. Fold your clothes correctly.

Wash your clothes correctly

Turn graphic t-shirts inside-out, wash jeans separately so the denim doesn’t rub on other clothing, and use less detergent. Run a cold wash cycle and line-dry if possible.

Check with current wardrobe

When you are shopping for clothes and find something you like, figure out how many other pieces of clothes you can pair it with. If it’s less than three, don’t get it.

When you get a piece of clothing it should be versatile in your wardrobe. Get your monies worth.

Dry-clean only

Not worth it. You’ll pay for it every time it needs to be washed.

Shope online

More often than not, there are discounts for online shoppers. Additionally, there web-extensions like Honey and Retailmenot that will find discount codes for you, and save you some extra money.

Just buy it

If you’re going to wear it more than once, it makes more sense to buy it than to rent it.

Buy or don’t buy

If you find an item of clothing that you love and will wear forever, buy it. If you find something else and shrug your shoulders at it, but it’s on sale, don’t buy it.

You will buy it at a discount, but you won’t wear it. You like almost everything better at the store. If you don’t like it there, you won’t like it at home.

Wear undershirts

Wear a tank top or a white t-shirt under your good clothes to protect against excessive wear and sweat stains.

Use coupons and apps

Here’s a list that can help you:

For a longer list of tech that will help you, visit my past posts, here and here.


There are so many ways to save money when shopping for clothes. Anyone of these tips above can help you while you’re in the store and can also help you preserve your current items, which helps you take fewer trips for more clothes.

By the way, next week starts our new segment: Interviews with money experts. Posts will be every Tuesday at 11 am.

So readers, how do you save money on clothing?

Published by

Financial Health and Wealth

I am a Financial Consultant and Blogger. I live in the Greater Milwaukee area. I am married with a six-month-old son. My goal with this blog is to educate people to better understand basic finances and to help save them money along the way

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