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Save Money. Look Fab.

10 Ways to Save Money on Clothes

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If your clothing budget has taken a hit lately, learn how to save money on clothes - and still look fab - with these easy tips.

1. Shop with Cash (Only!)

I can't believe I am suggesting this, considering my former love affair with store credit, but the easiest way to save money on clothes is to only buy what you can afford, plain and simple. If you don't have money in your checking account for those $500 must-have boots, then you'll have to save up to get 'em. Suze Orman will be proud!

2. Hit the Discount Chains

Sure, the big retailers can be hard to navigate and have their share of cheap distractions, but there are stylish bargains to be had at stores like T.J. Maxx and Target. Head to the former for great deals on shoes and handbags, and shop Target.com for the latest from their designer partners (you'll find great items online that may be unavailable at your local store).

Note: Just because a store is inexpensive doesn't mean you'll save any money - there is a tendency to "load up" your cart with all of the bargains, only to find you've racked up hundreds of dollars on non-essentials.

3. Shop Out of Season

Seasoned shoppers never hit the mall when new clothes hit the racks. Shop for spring and summer items in the fall, and buy your fall and winter looks when spring rolls around.

If you pay attention to the fashion week previews, you can even shop the trends on a bargain, provided you choose looks that will be around for more than one season.

4. Look for Online Deals

Sign up for email newsletters from retailers, and they'll send you coupons and keep you abreast of their latest sales. There are entire websites devoted to mining the net for coupons, but searching through them can be a major time waster. These sites make the bargain hunting easier:
  • Check out About Couponing for the latest clothing deals.
  • Sign up for Shop It To Me, a site that lets you select the retailers and items you are interested from one central spot, cutting back on the number of emails and alerts you'll receive.

5. Don't Be Lured by a Sale

It is worth mentioning that all of those "sale" alerts and coupons can result in overspending (I am certain the Sephora emails alone have cost me hundreds), so think of the clothing deals like grocery store coupons and don't buy anything just because it's on sale.

6. Shop Trends Carefully

What to buy depends on your budget and the season, but some trends seem destined to pass quickly (harem pants, anyone?) and should be avoided by the budget-conscious. Spend the bulk of your wardrobe budget on quality pieces you can update around, and look for deals on the trendier looks.

7. Think in Color Palattes

Building a wardrobe around one or two color families can help you figure out what to buy (and avoid). If your entire closet is black and gray, for example, don't buy lots of navy, even if it's a hot trend. Keep your current wardrobe in mind when you shop, and don't buy anything that won't go with at least two or three other items that you own.

Whether the bulk of your wardrobe is black or brown (or both, if you're lucky), you can add color trends with shoes, handbags, scarves and accessories while you continue to build on the basics.

8. Shop Vintage and Consignment

With so many trends from the past cropping up again, it's worth hitting your local thrift store to shop for vintage boots or fringed bags. You can make money on clothes you don't want while shopping for new looks at consignment stores, or even take part in a clothing swap with friends. It may take longer to find exactly what you are looking for at a used clothing store than at a traditional retailer, so be patient!

Get started with vintage shopping

9. Learn How to Sew

Learning how to make a few, simple alterations can save you lots of money, but not everyone has the aptitude or attitude to learn how to tailor jeans or a skirt. Start by mastering basics like replacing buttons and hemming pants and you may find yourself inspired to try more elaborate projects.

Get started with DIY clothing projects

10. Care for Your Clothing

It's worth a reminder that caring for your clothes will help them last longer (yes, Mom, you were right!). Use gentle fabrics, avoid the dryer when possible (always when it comes to those designer jeans) and hang and fold clothes properly. They are easy to ignore, but those clothing care tags are there for a reason - read them!

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