1. Karen

    I buy clothes only once or twice a year. Unable to find anything in my size at secondhand shops.

    Also buy pieces that can mix and match. I favor neutral pants with a colored top.

  2. Liana

    One change I made years ago that greatly affected my desire to shop for clothing (and other household items) is that I cancelled all the catalogs I received. Between J. Crew, Crate and Barrel, Land’s End, Banana Republic – it was a lot of paper coming into my home – plus it made me desire things I didn’t necessarily need. Now I receive no catalogs (or magazines) and I am blissfully ignorant of the retail prices I *could* be paying for new items. Give me a good garage sale, Bag Lady party, or Goodwill spree any day!

  3. In addition to shopping secondhand, you can sometimes find clothes on places like craigslist. This is especially true for “work” clothes (e.g., scrubs, coveralls), kids’ clothes, and maternity clothes. People will often sell these types of clothes in lots or bundles.
    We still frequently shop at department stores. We don’t pay much, though. If you have the time and patience you can often find incredible deals on the clearance racks. I have a professional suit that I got for $4 and dozens of shirts—many are name brands—that were purchased for $1-2. The trick is digging through the racks long enough to find them!

  4. Sara – I love your suggestions. I try to wear my clothes more than once when possible to save on wear and tear. I also sort my closet frequently to keep it from getting overcrowded. It’s a lot easier to get ready in the morning if your clothes are organized and easy to find.

  5. Martha

    Interesting that you bring this up. Today is my “clean out the closet” day! I just noticed that both the kids and I have so much stuff that doesn’t fit anymore. I am separating everything into piles/boxes, and sending them on to both friends & cousins who now where these sizes!

    As far as buying new, well that rarely happens. If it does, I go straight to the “clearance” rack first! It’s amazing what great deals you can find on that rack!! Or, I will shop a garage sale anyday. For some reason, I would rather shop a yard-sale than a Department Store. Not sure if it is the thrill of the hunt, or what. But, I have way more fun and find the cutest things for practically nothing when I am not really looking!

  6. When every day is laundry day it means thin out the closet.

    But how many clothes do we need? Two weeks worth? More? Less? Then there’s a the ‘fat’ and ‘skinny’ clothes.

    I’m sneaking my oldie but goodie shirts into my kids’ closets and let them decide. It’s a start.
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  7. I started Goodwill hunting long time back. Few of the BEST dresses have come from there and I wear them with pride. Another tip I use is to go straight for the sales rack of the big department stores.I have bought Vera Vang jeans for $4, long sweaters for $5 each.I once bought a full skirt suit – complete with shirt and fuchsia jacket for $8. I guess no one was buying it for it looked quite garish on the hanger. But I mix it up with a trendy skirt and use the black skirt with a different formal coat. Teamed up with the right scarf, the outfits look like a million bucks. One of my fav sweaters had a BIG hole in its arm and the store had it for sale for $2. Originally worth almost 60 bucks, this was a prize too. Great article Sara, and very close to my heart. Love it! Sharing.
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  8. Debbie M

    1. Now that I have pretty much everything I need, one strategy is to get super picky:
    * must fit perfectly
    * must be flattering
    * must be washable
    * must go with something I already have
    * must be wearable for things I actually do
    * must have pockets (if it’s pants, a skirt, a dress, or a blazer)
    That keeps me from going too overboard since most things don’t fit all these criteria.

    2) Keep a list of things I’m looking for so I can pull it out and head straight for those things when I’m at a thrift store, outlet store, clearance rack, etc. Don’t even look at other sections.

    3) No dryer–it started because my house has a washer connection but no dryer connection. I still do it because stretchy things last so much longer when you don’t dry them. A ceiling fan over the drying rack helps if you are drying clothes indoors.

    4) I mostly go with mix-and-match solids and then pretty it up with earrings and necklaces.

    5) I have started mending things, even socks. Sometimes the fabric is just weak and tears again shortly afterwards. Occasionally the mend doesn’t look good. But I’m often surprised at how well a mend works out. I try to divert things with holes to a spot next to the TV with the sewing kit before the holes get too but, but the bigger the holes, the easier it is to remember!

    I used to get hand-me-ups from my little sister, which was awesome. She has good taste! But she lives too far away now.

    I’ve found that having fewer things and wearing the same ones over and over mean that the things wear out faster than I’m used to, so I don’t go super minimalist anymore (i.e., 4 pairs of slacks and 1 pair of jeans in the winter when I wear slacks or jeans every single day).

    And I’ve learned that when I replace something, I need to make sure it’s actually better than the thing I’m replacing before I get rid of the old thing. Sometimes the new thing doesn’t wash well or turns out to have something even more annoying than the old thing.

    And I hate trying to find pants that fit, so I admit that I go to LLBean, but I do look for clearance and sale items and use their credit card when buying from them in order to build up rewards.

  9. I love Clothing Swap parties! I save my best items for these, and they are always a blast. Your tips are so great, Sara, not just for budgeting but for preserving the environment. What a great guide!
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