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Since adopting a more consistent means of tracking my budget, I’ve had to get a lot smarter about my purchases. Especially when it comes to fashion.
In the past I shopped without a thought. I could stroll through the mall without a real reason for being there and end up with two to three bags of clothes or shoes…that I really didn’t need.
Those days are long gone for me and now, when I do shop I try to shop smarter and better. I also try to maintain the items I do have so that I don’t constantly feel the need to fill my closet with more stuff.
Below I have listed 30 simple, frugal fashion hacks that have helped me not only save money for when I do shop but have also helped me keep the clothes and shoes I do have in great condition.
1. Only Shop During Major Sales
When shopping, try to stick to your favorites stores that are offering mega sales. By this I mean anything more than 50% off.
Big sales at retail stores usually happen seasonally, especially around Spring time when stores are looking to get rid of last years styles and usher in fresh material.
That is your time to snag some great pieces, even if they will be items from a season before.
Often, especially when impulse shopping, you’ll snag an item because you think you are getting a great deal or because it just caught your fancy at the time.
In reality, it is much smarter to wait and see if that piece still speaks to you after a few weeks. When I’m looking at purchasing something new, I usually wait a few months to see if it is something I want badly enough.
If after a few months you decide you still want something, I think at that point it’s okay to get it. It’ll be even more worth it if you can hold out for a major sale.
3. Adopt the 1 In 1 Out Rule
If I’m interested in adding pieces to my closet, I stick with the 1 in and 1 out rule. I mainly do this to prevent clutter but it also works to help curb impulse buys and splurges.
If I don’t have any pieces in my closet that I’m willing to part with, then I don’t allow myself to get something new. It’s a tough rule to stick with, but has helped cut down on shopping expenses tremendously.
Coinciding with the hack above, I like to sell items in my closet to supplement the purchase of something new. This works especially well for name brand items or high end, luxury pieces.
5. Check Multiple Sites/Stores
In addition to waiting to splurge on an item, you can use that wait time to check multiple stores and websites for the particular piece you are eyeing.
Doing this will let you shop around to ensure you are getting the best deal possible. One website might offer something significantly cheaper than another, or even have a coupon code you can use.
The app RedLaser (available for IOS only) will let you scan an item’s barcode to see if there are better deals available somewhere else.
If you’re going to do any shopping, you should at least use your cashback credit card when making a purchase. That way, you feel a little bit better about shopping since you’ll get some of that money back.
If you’re interested in signing up with a rewards credit card, consider one of these options:
- Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card – $500 sign-up bonus after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months. (If you can, throw your monthly rent on there to help).
- Capital One Quicksilver Card – $200 when you spend $1,000 within the first 3 months.
- Chase Freedom Unlimited – Earn $150 after spending $500 in the first 3 months.
If you don’t want to bother with a cashback credit card, then your next best option is to utilize cashback websites and apps.
These sites specialize in offering you cashback deals to some of your favorite retailers. Here are some of the top cashback sites worth checking out or you can check out this article for a fuller list.
- Ebates – $10 Registration Bonus
- TopCashBack – $10 Registration Bonus (not always, but often)
- BeFrugal – $10 Registration Bonus
- ShopAtHome – No bonus, but still great cashback deals
- Ibotta – Earn $10 when you scan your first receipt at a grocery store, but great cashback source for online stores too!
8. Shop With Cash
If this was the only hack I stuck with, I would save a ton of money as I never seem to have cash on me. And when I do have cash, it tends to disappear quickly.
Shopping with cash will let you set aside an allotted amount of funds to shop with, versus using a credit card which can let you get carried away and not realize how much you spent overall until it’s too late.
Once the cash is gone, you’ll know it’s time to head home.
9. Shop At Thrift Stores and Consignment Shops
Honestly, I can’t remember the last time I actually stepped into a mall or even really bought something “new”.
My go-to sources for shopping are thrift stores and consignment shops. Thrift stores will be cheaper and have clothes that are more heavily used, though you can still score some new-ish looking pieces.
Consignment shops will have items in better condition and also have more high end items. Plus, if you like high fashion, you can shop at consignment shops in wealthier neighborhoods to have access to expensive brands at a cheap price.
One added perk is that thrift stores and consignment shops frequently have sales, offering extra discounts so that they can clear out their inventory.
10. Have A Swap Party
If you have a few friends with an excellent sense of style, call them up and see if they want to have a swap party with you.
This means you select a few pieces from your closet that you want to get rid of and your friends select items as well. Then at the get together you look through your items and trade them.
This is a great way to update your wardrobe or try a style of clothing you weren’t too sure about all without costing you a thing.
11. Borrow From Friends/Family
Whenever I have an event coming up, I always look to friends and family first before bothering with a department store.
This is especially true for things like weddings or party’s. How many times will you actually wear that special dress you bought or those fancy high heels? Chances are not many.
Instead, ask your friends and family members if there is something you can borrow (assuming you are similar in size). This will save you money and still let you feel as if you are wearing something “new” to your event.
12. Stick With Neutral Colors
You can’t go wrong with a neutral color palette. White, black, navy blue, gray, tan, beige, etc are all considered neutrals.
Neutrals can be paired with anything and even better, tops or pants can be repeated as no one will know you’re wearing the same black top or gray slacks you wore two days ago.
13. Look for Natural Fabrics
Cotton, hemp, linen, tencel, bamboo, wool and silk are all considered natural fabrics. These fibers tend to last longer and are easier to care for than synthetic fabrics.
Plus, after years of wear, when these items finally do start to get too ratty to wear, you can rest assured that they break down more naturally in the environment, thus making your clothes eco-friendly too.
14. Go With Quality Over Quantity
As a follow-up to the hack above, quality items will also last you longer than cheap, poorly made pieces.
Yes, a good deal is always well appreciated, but a $5 shirt that has holes appearing after only a few wears isn’t worth the cost. Instead, splurge on the better-made item that will last you for years.
15. Keep It Basic
Keeping your fashion picks basic coincides with hack number 12 for sticking with neutral colors.
When I say basic, I mean you should avoid crazy prints, large logos or graphics, even ripped jeans.
Classic, clean cut jeans, simple tees, blouses, shirts, blazers and pants never really go out of style, while these other trends come and go.
16. Don’t Read Fashion Magazines
Speaking of trends, ignore them. Don’t pick up a single fashion magazine or click on a celebrity Instagram account to see what they are wearing.
Fashion trends are a big drain on your wallet simply because it is impossible to keep up with what’s “in” and what’s “out”.
Plus, following trends will just make you want more and more things, even when you know you can’t afford it. It’s best to just avoid it all and stick to a basic style that is timeless.
This hack is great around the holidays as it gives you a chance to earn extra cash and take advantage of store discounts.
If you have some new items from a favorite retailer you have been wanting to add to your closet, you should apply to work part time for that store.
You don’t have to keep the job forever, but by working there you’ll get employee discounts which will help save you money on your future purchases.
18. Plan On Wearing It More Than Once
If you know you’ll only get one wear out of something, don’t buy it. Stick with hack number 11 and borrow something instead.
Now this will be a bit trickier if you’re a bridesmaid in a wedding and required to wear a specific dress. If that’s the case, see if it’s something you can work with or modify later to get more uses out of it.
19. Unsubscribe From Store Emails
This hack is a tricky one. On the one hand, subscribing to receive emails from your favorite retailers means you will be privy to great deals as they pop up (Hack #1).
But, at the same time, you will find that you will receive a lot of emails over the course of a year advertising some kind of sale.
These sales sucker you into shopping more than you probably would have because honestly…who can resist a good deal.
The safer option is to unsubscribe from these emails and instead, check out websites around key sale times, like early Spring, around Memorial Day, Labor Day and Thanksgiving.
20. Put It On Your Birthday/Christmas List
You’re never too old to have a birthday or Christmas list. Instead of spending your own money on something, ask for it as a gift instead.
This could be asking for whatever it is you are eyeing or just a gift card to your favorite retailer. You’ll feel a lot better about shopping when you know you didn’t have to spend your own hard earned money.
21. Avoid The Mall
Seriously, just don’t go. When I was younger, hanging out at the mall was the thing to do and it almost always resulted in my purchasing something that later was a total waste of money.
If you’re looking to save more money, it’s best to just avoid the mall altogether and shop online or at consignment shops.
22. Ignore BOGO Deals
Buy one, get one deals can be a money trap sometimes. You think you’re getting a good deal, but really you will only end up purchasing more than you need.
You also probably don’t need two of the same thing. And if you follow hack number 14 above and choose quality over quantity, you’ll find yourself purchasing better items and only need one of them.
23. Keep Your Leather Looking Good
Leather and suede can easily get stained, especially if you ever find yourself in a downpour wearing your favorite pair of leather boots.
Before, when my leather items got really stained, I found myself wanting to replace them but this little trick has made that unnecessary.
If you take diluted vinegar (diluted with water in a 1:1 ratio) plus a soft brush, like an old toothbrush, you can gently and easily clean your suede and leather items.
They’ll look good as new and save you tons of money!
24. Save On Laundry
I’ve managed to cut down on my loads of laundry, water and electric bill by freezing my clothes.
Yes, you’ve read that correctly. Placing your clothes in ziplock bags and then placing in the freezer not only kills any bacteria living on your clothes but it neutralizes odors as well.
I don’t do this with everything. Mainly jeans, sweaters (to prevent pilling), and workout clothes so that I can get a few wears out them before doing a real wash.
This hack also works for bed sheets if you have a bed bug problem or even shoes, if you want to eliminate the odors that have developed in them over time.
25. Use Vodka To Neutralize Odors
If sticking your clothes in the freezer seems a bit too weird, then your next best option will be to break out the vodka.
I was surprised this hack actually works without leaving you smelling like you just left the bar after a night of heavy drinking.
Simply spritz some vodka on the stinkiest areas of your clothes and set aside to dry. As the item dries, the funky stench and any lingering odor of vodka will disappear.
This will give you more wears out of your clothes, extending your time between laundry sessions and saving you money.
26. Use Hem Tape For At Home Alterations
As a fairly petite person, I’ve had to deal with my fair share of alterations. But having clothes taken in or hemmed can get really expensive.
To save money, I started using hem tape, which works in a pinch to fix something that is too long or not falling in the right place.
While this isn’t a permanent fix, it works surprisingly well and no one will be able to tell that your item wasn’t professionally altered.
27. Learn to Sew
When I suggest you learn to sew, I don’t mean that you should start creating your own wardrobe from scratch..though that would be really cool and save you money.
Instead I suggest you hop on Youtube to learn to sew basic items. That way you can do things like replace a button that pops off a shirt or jacket. Or you can patch holes in your jeans or sweater.
This simple skill will keep you from needing to replace items as they get worn in.
28. Remove Sweater Fuzzies With A Razor
Sweaters have a nasty habit of fuzzing after multiple wears and washes, which can make them look old and used up very quickly.
When this starts to happen, take a razor (an old one that you will be discarding) and gently shave your sweaters to remove the little fuzzies that have cropped up.
This will leave your sweater smooth and looking fresh.
29. Wash On Cold and Hang Dry
Hot water not only costs you more on your electric bill but it also destroys your clothes a lot faster.
I always recommend that clothes be washed on cold or cool water. Colors will remain brighter and clothes in better condition.
To save even more, you should hang dry as much as you can. Not only will this cut down on your electric bill, but again, your clothing fibers will be better protected and therefore last you several years.
30. Always Carry a Stain Remover Stick
Stains are inevitable sometimes. At least for me they are, especially if I happen to be wearing white that day and eating a cheeseburger. I’ve had to buy so many white replacement shirts because of this.
Now, I always keep a pack of these clorox stain remover pens with me at all times. In my purse, diaper bag, and car. They really do work and quickly to get out stains.
Plus, if it doesn’t get the stain out completely, it will at least keep the stain from setting until you can get the item in the laundry.
Your interest in fashion doesn’t have to be set aside just because you adopt a more frugal lifestyle. You simply have to find the workarounds to make smart, new purchases and also maintain the condition of the items you already have.
Hopefully these 30 frugal fashion hacks will help you do that! If any of these work for you, let me know in the comments below. Thanks for reading!