Update Your Wardrobe without Breaking the Bank

06 March 2019

A woman shopping in clothing store

So, you've rummaged through your closet from top to bottom and it's clear: your wardrobe needs a refresh. Smart shoppers know that even if money is tight, it's possible to treat yourself to a few new items. Take a hint from these frugal tips and above all, remember: never, ever pay full price!

1. Shop the off-season for the best buys.

When the seasons change, so does store inventory. As February rolls around, you can be sure that your favorite department store is clearing out the winter stock to make way for the warm weather duds. Now is the time to scoop up a great deal on that sweater you've been coveting. Likewise, look for clearance sales on bathing suits, tank tops, and that cute summer sundress in July and August, just when the cozy turtlenecks are just hitting the racks.

2. Wait for the holiday sales.

Virtually every retailer will feature sales events on Presidents Day, Labor Day and other holidays. Get to know the sales calendar where you shop; the big name department stores like Macy's and Nordstrom regularly hold semi-annual sales. Cyber Monday (the Monday after Thanksgiving) is your best bet for online deals. You might not think of Amazon for clothing, but the site has a huge selection and Amazon Prime Day offers fabulous deals to Prime members.

3. Check out secondhand clothing online.

Browsing through the local thrift store can be fun, but these days you don't even need to leave home to get some amazing buys on used clothing. Online sites like Poshmark sell secondhand clothing, shoes and accessories at discounts of 50 percent or more off retail price. Just a sample of recent finds: $9 for Nike sandals, a $20 Zara pleated mini skirt, and a $25 Kate Spade black leather belt. You'll find men's clothing, too, as well as athletic wear, jeans, prom dresses, kids clothes and even wedding gowns.

4. Take advantage of preferred customer deals.

Be sure to sign up for e-mails and rewards programs at your favorite stores. You'll get advance notice of sales and valuable coupons. Many stores, such as Kohls, offer cashback bonuses based on your purchases.

5. Know when and where to spend and to save.

Classic styles -- think timeless looks like a basic white button down or a navy wool blazer---are worth the investment. Spend a few extra dollars in quality pieces that will last for seasons to come. On the other hand, buy the basics---cotton tees, sweatshirts, socks—at retailers like Target or Walmart. Are you looking to treat yourself to a few cute, trendy items? Head to Old Navy, Forever 21 or H&M.

6. Know your prices.

If you love to shop, use it to your advantage by browsing and doing some informative comparison shopping. Is that 25% off really a deal, or has the seller inflated the retail price? Is the outlet store truly offering the best bargains on your favorite brands, or could you do better waiting for a department store sale?

7. Every little bit counts: save on shipping and tax.

If you are online shopping, shipping costs can really add up; always look for free shipping. Many online retailers now offer free ship to store; you'll enjoy the convenience of shopping online, but avoid costly shipping expenses. Find out whether your state is one of many that offer annual tax free weekends, dates on which tax is waived on certain items, often including clothing and shoes.

8. Take stock of what you need.

Before you head out to the mall, take inventory of what you already own and which buys make sense. Your budget might not accommodate a whole new wardrobe, but a bright colored tee or a trendy belt can update that outfit already hanging in your closet.