None of us are made of money. Well, almost none of us. When it comes time to update our wardrobe, price point tends to be the dominating factor. So how exactly does one save money on clothes in this increasingly expensive world? Furthermore, how does one still stay in the game with designer gear, without paying those infamous designer prices?
Off Season Sales
Stores and labels are constantly turning over new stock each season. Even notoriously expensive markets like New York and London bottom out their prices, when it comes time to flip their merchandise for the year. By mid January most stores are cutting their winter stock by as much as half. Subsequently, by the end of September, you should be able to acquire some amazing summer garb at a fraction of the original price.
Granted, we are all trying to stay on top the latest trends and releases but when it comes to certain items – oxford shoes, plaid shirts, tweed blazers – purchasing at the end of a season and storing it until the following year can save you an enormous amount. A basic, wool v-neck or crew neck sweater for instance, isn’t going to change very much from year to year. By focusing on classic garments, rather than trying to afford some small piece of a fleeting fad, you’ll be less likely to “waste” money at a sale, buying impulse items just because they’re cheap.
Brick and mortar shops are expensive to operate and it’s reflected in their prices. However, purchasing online is a great way to save some serious money on clothes.
Start with e-bay. Although, the internet auction site deals primarily with collector items and vintage fare, most online merchants link back to e-bay one way or another. When you find an item you’ve been looking for, check to see if the seller has an online store. Chances are, they carry other pieces you’d like and once again, will be doing so at a much lower price than most street level stores.
Two issues should be noted here. Firstly, large items can be subject to unforeseen tariffs and taxes if they’re being shipped internationally, so be sure to read the fine print on the shipping details. Secondly, if it sounds too good to be true… you know the rest. These days there is just as much counterfeited, high-end merchandise available online as there is legitimate stuff. Be very careful. Read any buyer reviews and research the seller’s history as much as possible. A quick google search of the shops name should reveal whether or not they’re merchandise is of suspect provenance or not.
This is a market a lot of people avoid because it has a stigma as being the realm of only painfully trendy art-school kids, and those that frequent soup kitchens. With the culture around vintage clothing getting absolutely massive, better shops have been forced to stock more and more top shelf items in mint condition. These days, you can regularly find upscale pieces like Lacoste tennis tops or Burberry jackets for much less than what those items would fetch new. And, when we’re talking timeless designs, quite often a garment from 20 years ago bears even more structural and style integrity than its present day counterpart.
Just make sure that you take the time to inspect a piece carefully. No matter how cheap, a piece will a stain, or a tear isn’t always worth the savings. Also, it’s a labor of love, so plan on heading to various shops multiple times over a month to maximize your chances of finding that diamond in the rags.
With designer prices often out of reach, how can we be thrifty on a crisp, new item once in a while? One area where you find a lot of savings is the sample sale. More often than you’d think, labels and distributors will quietly occupy a vacant space for a few days and unleash their seasonal products at immensely discounted prices. Despite a regular lack of change rooms and traditionally big crowds there’s usually a good variety of brands, styles and sizes. Get to know which distributors handle your favorite labels and then scan local newspapers and blogs for any sample sale announcements.
Visit sites like ‘Sample Sale Forum’, for an up-to-date listing of the many sample sales in your area.
Keep It Simple
A white cotton t-shirt is a white cotton t-shirt. Whether that shirt came from the bargain store or it came from the Gap, it tends to look virtually identical from label to label and certainly achieves the same style goal. There is absolutely no need to be spending much more than $5 on your t-shirts. Brands like Haynes and Fruit of The Loom, have been quality tested for decades and as far as we’re concerned, bear all the strengths of a high priced, designer T.
Great style is a state of mind. Every label wants you to think that they have the only answer to your fashion needs. What’s more, their prices bank on the fact that you believe them. But knowing yourself and what looks good on you, is the first step in nailing down those elusive clothing deals and maximizing your wardrobe budget.
Fit, cut and simplicity are everything when it comes to low-priced gear. The further you distance yourself from brand logos the more mystery and even authority you give to your image. Fashion is expensive… style is not. Pay attention to what’s out there and you will be amazed at how good you can look for surprisingly little cash.