Americans spend a lot of money on clothes. According to the Joint Economic Committee’s analysis on the impact of the fashion industry, Americans spend more than $370 billion on apparel and footwear every year. You might argue it’s well spent because you’re buying things that will help you look your best, and it’s definitely a valid argument. However, it is possible to look great without breaking the bank — as long as you use these seven strategies (No. 7 is a must if you’re shopping for kids).
1. Buy your clothes at the right time
You may not realize this, but there’s a right and wrong time to buy your clothing. While Black Friday and after-Christmas sales are traditionally great times to shop, what about the rest of the year? When it comes to the weekdays, Thursday is the best day of the week to shop for clothes because a lot of weekend sales begin then. In addition, Saturday is a great day to make it into a department store. There are also certain days of the week that might be best for shopping for specific apparel types online. Lastly, buying off-season usually gets you a better deal than buying what’s hot and trendy right now.
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2. Don’t shop impulsively
This happens to even the most budget-conscious shoppers: You see a piece of clothing that you just have to have. Before quickly buying it, though, ask yourself whether this piece would work with at least several other items in your existing wardrobe. Also consider where you would wear this piece, especially if it’s a dressier item. If after answering those questions it seems unlikely that you’d wear it, don’t buy it, no matter how much you love it, because it’s just going to sit in your closet. Lifehacker recommends you use the “meat and potatoes” rule, courtesy of designer Michael Kors: 70% of the clothes you own should be everyday clothes, and the other 30% is the icing on the cake, meaning the items that are a little more shiny and dressy for dinners or evenings out.
Another great tip to avoid shopping impulsively? Don’t bring a friend or an enabler who may convince you to buy something you don’t need. Bring a list of what you want and a budget to avoid overspending.
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3. Know when clothes are at their lowest price
Are you really getting the lowest price you can for your clothes? That same shirt or pants you’ve been eyeing may be significantly less expensive a week from now or even three weeks from now. There’s a little secret that few consumers know about — secret price codes. Different stores have different sale indicators and different markdown schedules. For example, if you’re looking at an item on sale at Target, you want to look for the price tag ending in the number 4, which indicates that the price won’t go any lower than that. If the price ends in 9, you should probably wait to buy it, and if it ends in a 6 or 8, you also might want to consider waiting because the price may drop further.
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4. Learn to shop consignment
Thrifting or consignment shopping is great because it’s like hunting for buried treasure, but you have to know where to look for the right goods. Some rules for shopping are steadfast, but the fun in shopping consignment is you really can’t ever truly predict what you’ll find. If you’re looking for better quality clothing, because not all consignment shops are created equally, try stores in nicer neighborhoods where people have more disposable income and are more likely to get rid of pricier high-end merchandise.
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5. Spend more money on the classics
Yes, we’re telling you to spend more money: Invest your money in pieces such as a classic leather motorcycle jacket (that never goes out of style) or a good, sturdy pair of leather shoes that you’ll get a lot of wear out of. In other words, if you’re buying quality staple pieces that fit you, they’ll last much longer than if you buy a cheaper version of the item with a quicker turn-over.
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6. Anticipate popular clothing options
Anticipating clothing trends isn’t easy, unless you are a fashion guru. However, anyone can pick up certain trends just by looking around. Some brands have been popular for decades, but others are becoming more popular now. If you start to notice certain brands becoming more popular, now is the time to purchase these items before they become more in demand. You also might notice that some brands periodically make a comeback, as do certain styles. You can actually find quite a bit of trendy clothing at used clothing stores, and many of the clothes from previous decades are coming back in style.
Next: This is a must if you are shopping for kids.
7. Check out garage sales, especially for kid clothes
This one might seem like an obvious bet, but many people don’t take advantage of garage sales the way they should. Instead of simply stopping at random sales and perusing the items, take a more targeted approach. Neighborhood sales are ideal for finding great deals because you can quickly drive or walk by multiple sales in search of what you want. Also, consider going to garage sales in neighborhoods with a lot of kids, and if possible, choose affluent neighborhoods if you are looking for popular culture items or brand-name clothes. Lastly, try to make a deal. Some people are shy about asking for a deal, but especially if you purchase multiple items, you can probably negotiate a lower price.