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At the start of every season, my friends and I go through our closets and trade whatever we won’t wear. Last winter, I ended up with enough sweaters to last the entire season. Set up a trading day with your friends or family members. Then take anything you have left to a consignment shop. You’ll end up with new clothes and some extra cash.
Trendy clothes cost more and have a shorter shelf life. You could spend hundreds trying to keep up with the fashion magazines, only to realize you no longer adore that peasant skirt six months later. Stick to classic styles and basic pieces that are always in style – jeans, polo shirts, T-shirts, and simple skirts.
I save a lot of money by shopping at T.J.Maxx, Ross, and Marshalls. Discount stores sell overstock and slightly imperfect pieces from other retailers for a fraction of their cost. Just check the clothes carefully before you buy them. I’ve lost money on spaghetti straps that ripped or buttons that popped off, but it’s rare.
Tailor-shop pricing varies by area – where I live, it costs $10 to $12 to have one pair of jeans professionally hemmed. If I had all 14 pairs of my jeans professionally hemmed, I’d pay $168 on top of the cost of the clothes. Hem your clothes yourself and stop paying the professionals.
If you can’t sew, offer to swap jobs with a friend who can. I’m horrible with a needle and thread, but I can babysit. So I watch my friend’s kids for a night, and she hems my new clothes the next day.
If you only need to wear something once, borrow it from a friend or family member. You’ll save 100 percent and won’t have a useless dress or suit filling up space in your closet.
If you can’t borrow it, buy it. In "Formal Wear: Rent or Own," Stacy recommends buying a tuxedo if you plan on wearing it more than twice in your lifetime. Stacy interviewed Andy Rizzi, a retail employee, and found that tuxedo rentals in his area cost $85 to $100 on average. Rent three tuxedos and you could spend $300. Buy from a discount store or resale site like Craigslist, and you could spend much less and own the tux outright.
Work and school uniforms get expensive, but you can buy them at discount stores for a fraction of their cost. In my area, we have stores that sell school uniforms, scrubs, and overalls at deep discounts compared to the cost of buying them through your work or school.
When it comes to swimsuit shopping, it doesn’t pay to buy cheap knock-offs. A well-designed swimsuit will cost more upfront, but can last years. Three years ago I dropped $85 on a higher-end swimsuit. I wash it by hand and line-dry it after each use, and it still looks brand new. Check out "16 Tips to Find the Perfect Swimsuit for Less" – a complete guide to swimsuit shopping.
Women’s clothing is often priced higher than men’s and kids’ clothing. If you’re a woman looking for something universal – like a T-shirt or hoodie – check the racks in the men’s and kids’ sections first.
I won’t go to the grocery store without making a list first, but I’ll blindly charge into the mall credit card in hand. That is the wrong way to go about it. The next time you shop for clothes, make a list of what you actually need and stick to it.
Only buy something if you can wear it today. Buying something a few sizes too small because you think you’ll lose weight later is a gamble. Even if you do, you may realize you don’t like the way that shirt looks on you. Either way, you’ve wasted money.
Angela Colley is a writer for Money Talks News. This article originally appeared in Money Talks News.