Frugal Clothing....part 2
So, we've talked about what you should buy, and where you should buy cheap, and where it's worth spending a bit extra. That said though, what's the best way to go about buying the clothes you want at a price you can afford? Well Singlegirl is very definitely the expert here - she's worked in retail for years and so knows all the tricks, and has some GREAT tips for maximising your budget!
Firstly - January sales - these are a great place to buy clothes - but, rather like buying yellow-stickered food bargains - it's only a bargain if you'll actually use it! It makes real sense to approach shopping for clothes in the sales exactly as you might doing your weekly grocery shop - go out with a list of what you're looking to buy, and stick to it! Also - buy your clothes for the life you have - while dressing like Kate Moss might be fabulous if you're, well, Kate Moss, if you're a 40 year old Mum of 3 who has to go straight from the school run to walking the dog to mucking out a horse, then it won't make so much sense for you! Likewise, if you're the sort of person like me who isn't fashion-focused, it makes sense to make your clothes suit your lifestyle AND last well - that way you won't have to shop as often!
Before hitting the sales too, it makes sense to go through your wardrobe to work out what you actually need - the quickest way to avoid the 'I have millions of clothes and nothing to wear' scenario is by clearing out before you shop. Be ruthless, especially with sizes. So many people hang on to clothes on the basis that "One day I'll lose weight and fit into that again" - but a bit of a reality check might be needed here. I have, in the past, been a size 10 - it was a struggle to get there, and a struggle to stay there, and as soon as my eating became even halfway normal again, I didn't stay there for long! Realistically, having a wardrobe full of size 10 clothes when I'm actually several sizes bigger than that is only going to make me feel bad. I don't WANT to be that size again, and I'm not going to be, so having that size of clothing in my wardrobe would be like storing someone elses clothes for them! As SG very sensibly says - "get rid and learn to flatter the body you actually have".
So - how as a frugal person do you go about affording to buy clothes? Make money to pay for them is a good starting point - Sell old clothes on eBay and buy new ones with the profits. Keep the costs of eBaying down by using free listing weekends (these seem to come up at least once a month) and buying padded envelopes from Pound shops rather than at the Post office to send the stuff away in. (Obviously lots of people get great bargains buying on eBay too but both SG & I like to try on so we don't do it!) If clothes are really done then sell to the cash for clothes people for a bit of cash. Once you've done that, and decided what it is you need to buy, then it's time to go about getting the items at the least cash outlay to you possible. - SG's Top tip: Vouchers in magazines can be great for discounts on places you were going to spend anyway - these deals can often be found in the Money saving Expert weekly email but it's worth scanning over the front covers in the newsagents to see what might be on offer. Look! and Grazia tend to rotate between H and M, Warehouse etc so if you need say, a coat then 25% off £100 is well worth a £1.50 or £2.00 spend.
- Websites : Gap is often on Vouchercodes.com and is generally good for 30% off. They are FAB for jeans and work trousers. The Vouchercloud App * is sometimes useful too - they often do deals for money off with chains like Timpson for your shoe repairs, and also many high street clothing retailers.
- Ask for vouchers/cash for clothes rather than gifts for bdays and Christmas. So many folk have a generous auntie with dreadful taste who they could explain to that actually, they are taking their wardrobe in hand and would love a spree and so could they please have a voucher.
- Charity Shops: A lot depends on the area you're in as far as charity shops are concerned - and also checking everything VERY carefully. You can often pick up basic M&S tops still with their original tags on for £2.50 - £3 a time - people buy them without trying on, get home, they don't fit, and then because the item was "only" £8 or so to start with, they can't be bothered to take them back! "Independent" Charity Shops are often better than the chains - I bought a fab suede jacket in one locally to us for £10 last year, and have often picked up scarves etc for £1 each. It used to be said that those in better areas were the best for good bargains but so far as the chains are concerned everything is centralized these days then divvied out so this applies less. Sounds obvious, but if buying tops check out the inside of the armpits, and jeans/trousers, do a gusset inspection for signs of wear. I personally won't buy second hand footwear unless it looks to have been worn once, at most. Remember that buttons can be changed, hems can be turned up, and trims can be added - or removed! a good pal got her wedding dress for about £20 because she looked past it's hideous buttons and saw it's potential!
To summarise: If buying brand new use voucher codes and magazine discounts where possible and shop sales ruthlessly. Sales go 'Sale, further markdowns then final reductions' before coming off and often continue online after they finish in store as sale stock tends to go back to the warehouse once it's all odds and bits in each store.
I asked SG for a couple of quick tips to end on for How to make cheap clothes look expensive, and generally what little things can you do to make yourself look more "pulled together"? She said "MMMM. Tough one. A sort of uniform of blazer, t shirt/shirt and slim jeans with knee high boots seems to flatter most people. I think it's a lot to do with grooming ie decent hair cut, nails tidy/painted/eyebrows not like Michael Heseltine is a help. I think (and I know not everyone agrees) that we all look better with a bit of light, well applied make up. Boots No7 is a good budgetish brand but Aldi etc get good reviews for skincare too. No. 7 are often on 3 for 2 and you can sometimes use £5 off vouchers as well so get a good haul for your money. Also, accessories can really liven up plain stuff. I bought a gorgeous necklace in Oasis for a fiver last year on final reduction that smartens up a plain black or grey tee and jeans for going out. Accessorize do lovely bags and jewellery on sale. One accessory can bring a classic on trend ie last seasons old black coat is instantly brought up to date with this seasons tartan scarf at a fiver from Primark."
What's been your best clothes bargain? Do you have a favourite accessory that you wear over and over and only cost you a small amount when you bought it maybe? Or perhaps you've got a shopping tip that we've not covered?
Robyn & SingleGirl
* Hyperlink added to Vouchercloud - to clarify this post is not sponsored in any way - they simply asked if I could link to them and as I use and like the App I was happy to agree!