Sis, let me give you a bit of a hot take: you don’t need those new leggings, or that new top, or a designer handbag. You might think you do, and it may feel nice to own them, but at what cost if you knew how to shop for clothes on a budget?
How many nice but expensive items in your closet have just been sitting there waiting to be worn again?
But that doesn’t mean you have to go to the other extreme, either. Have you ever worn cheap clothes?
The kind that you just know will shrink in the washing machine after a cycle or two, or will rip if you tug on it just a little bit?
Believe me, they feel horrible to wear. When it comes to clothes, if you buy cheap, you buy twice and soon you may realize you’re spending too much just because you have to keep buying crappy clothing.
However, if you get into a pattern of buying expensive things, especially if your income isn’t growing enough to keep up, you’re bound to end up broke. And believe me, that won’t feel nice.
To make sure that you’re not breaking the bank, but still wearing clothes that will last you a good while, here are seven easy tips to follow when you’re out shopping for new threads.
Clothes don’t always have to be brand new to look good. Buying thrifted clothing can be a great way to save up some money while still giving you some great styling pieces.
A big tip I have for this is to make sure that you’re not thrifting just anywhere. Go to a place that’s known for its thrift shops, or stores in more well-off neighborhoods. If one woman’s trash is another woman’s treasure, you’re more likely to find a lot more valuable items, even designer brands.
There’s a reason big celebrities like SZA and Willow Smith choose to go to thrift stores despite having the money to blow on designer brands– it can be lots of fun! So call up the girls, book an Uber, and give yourselves an afternoon to go thrifting. You might even be able to hit a jackpot.
While thrifting is a great way to shop for clothes on a budget, it’s not a consistent way to get new threads. There won’t always be a perfect outfit for you right off the rack.
But that doesn’t mean you have to go to your nearest mall and shop at fast-fashion brands like H&M or Uniqlo to get brand new clothes. You know what you’re getting when you buy clothes that were made in sweatshops, and believe me it isn’t quality.
Instead, consider small, local boutiques. These can be a great place to find brand new clothing at a more affordable price than fast fashion or designer shops at the mall. While they can be a bit more pricey depending on where you are, local boutiques tend to take pride in the clothes that they offer, with some even making their clothes by hand.
The best part? When you support local boutiques, especially if it’s a Black-owned business., you make sure that your hard-earned money is going to the local economy instead of some soulless business.
When you just have to have those branded clothes, you might want to time your shopping around sale season, which isn’t too far away at the moment. In a few months, it’ll be Black Friday, but there’s no guarantee that you’ll be able to get the clothes you want. After all, other shoppers are likely going to do the same.
Sales aren’t the only way to get discounted clothes when you shop for clothes on a budget. though. Some brands offer coupons or discounts on certain items through things like signing up for their newsletter. Lulu’s does something like this, and it’s a great way to slash a few dollars off of the receipt.
However, a big mistake people tend to make is to buy something just because “It’s on sale!” Try to avoid this mentality and instead look at sales, coupons, or discounts as things that are meant to help you save money on things you were already planning to buy. This thought process isn’t meant for someone trying to live frugally and shop for clothes on a budget.
Imagine spending hundreds, or God forbid thousands, of dollars on something that you’ll only ever wear twice at most. For example, a formal dress. But here’s the thing: it doesn’t matter how ravishing you look in it. How many times would you actually wear it in public? It’s not a good idea to spend $500+ on something that’s going to be sitting in your closet after a couple of uses.
That’s what renting is for. If you’re only going to be wearing a nice dress once or twice for a formal event and almost never going to wear it again (trust me, you won’t) a rental dress is a much better way to spend your money.
You might not be able to take the dress home when you shop for clothes on a budget like this, but at least you’ll be coming home without an empty wallet.
Speaking of clothes that you’ve only ever worn a handful of times, how many clothes in your closet fit this description?
You might have a top or two that you’re reluctant to get rid of or some jeans that don’t fit the way they used to. If you have too many clothes sitting in your closet that haven’t seen the light of day in a while, then it might be time to let go of some of them.
Those clothes aren’t doing you any favors by just sitting there and collecting dust. By selling them off, like on Facebook Marketplace or at your local thrift store, you’re getting more money, which you can then use to buy new clothes that you would actually wear or other things.
But I also understand that selling your pre-loved clothes for some pocket change might not be how you want to part with them. If you just don’t have it in you to say goodbye to that top or pair of jeans, you can instead give it to a loved one who wears a similar size.
In exchange, you can ask to swap it for a piece that they don’t wear as much anymore. That way, you’ll know that your clothes are going to someone you can trust, and if you ever want it back, then you can always ask.
I have a friend who does this with her sister all the time. Because of this, they’ve saved hundreds of dollars over the years that they would’ve spent on brand new clothes. You can even do it with a bunch of friends and have a little get-together, too!
With some old clothes, a good tailor, and a little bit of creativity, you can give some of the clothes sitting in your closet a much-needed refresh.
For example, you might have worn a bridesmaid’s dress for a loved one’s wedding, but never touched it since then. With a few adjustments, that could be a new evening dress for your next night out with the girls.
Turning an unused dress into one that’s brand new is a great way to get some “new” clothes while on a budget. After all, it’s more affordable to make adjustments to a dress you already have than to buy a brand new dress outright. It’s also even better for the environment because you’re not being wasteful.
Those are just some of the things you need to know when you shop for clothes on a budget. I guarantee that if you follow these tips, you’ll be able to look fresh as a flower while still being financially free.
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Dollars Makes Cents by Shaquana, Financial Coach and Wealth Expert, resources helps professional millennial women of color with the tools and skills they need to eliminate their debt, amplify their savings, and build generational wealth — without having to compromise their lifestyle.
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