Looking good on a budget—impossible or not? The average UK household spends over £1,300 per year on clothing and footwear (£25 per week), accounting for close to 5% of the average household budget. To find out what this means for you see our article How Much You Should Spend on Clothing. Regardless of your individual budget, use our tips to help you save money on your clothing and shoe spending.
1. Clear Out Your Closet
We have a love-hate relationship with the "clearing out your closet" exercise. It can be dull and a bit overwhelming, but the end result is usually worth it. There's nothing like opening up your wardrobe to see nicely folded and organized pieces, that actually fit. And there are money-saving reasons to clear out, too.
You'll Rediscover Old Favourites: Maybe you find a forgotten but beloved jumper that fell into a heap behind your pile of jeans or perhaps a previously undiscovered blouse/skirt combination that gives new life to some rarely-worn clothes. Either way, a good clear out can leave you excited about your clothes again. And less likely to go out shopping for new ones!
Sell Your (Gently Used) Clothing: A good clear out always results in a pile of clothes on the bed. If you're short of cash, you can try your hand at selling your gently-used clothes instead of donating them to charity. Finding the right venue for your clothes will depend on the quality of your pieces (e.g., brand, retail price, etc.) and whether or not you want to deal with finding buyers.
|Where to Sell Used Clothing
|Seller lists, prices and posts the item to the buyer; Buyers pay a service fee of 3% to 8% of the item's price, plus a fixed fee of £0.3 to £0.8
|Send them your items (postage free); you’ll either be paid upfront right away (e.g., for on-trend items in great condition) or the item will be sold on a consignment basis (that is, you get paid when it sells); Twicely decides on the price, not you
|The most well-known way to sell, but hrmmm… we’ve read a few too many reports of bad experiences from sellers lately
|If you have a lot of fashion followers...
|Think Instagram and eBay in one
|Take around 50/50. Check local listings for compatibility—some can be quite picky about brands, if they’re trying to project a high-end image
|You send your item(s) to Rebelle, and they’ll deal with the buyer. High end items only.
|Luxury items; seller lists the item and ships directly to the buyer
|Over 7 million members and 400,000 items for sale; brands such as Chanel, Louis Vitton, Burberry, etc.
|Cudoni sells for you; Think brands such as Chanel, Hermès, Prada, Gucci, Dior, Valentino, Burberry, Céline, Christian Louboutin, Mulberry, Tory Burch, etc.
|Hardly Ever Worn It
|You ship directly to buyer
|Edit Second Hand
|Edit Second Hand buys from you eliminating the hassle of dealing with buyers, but only high-end items will be accepted—don’t expect to sell most High Street brands here
|Not for the average person. But if you’re a small business selling vintage collections or your own label, an ASOS Marketplace boutique might suit you.
|Earn Money from Low-End Clothing
|Donate a bag of clothing to H&M and get a £5 discount voucher to use on a £30 shop
|Donate a bag of clean, dry clothing or shoes to a Levi’s store and get 10% off a regular-priced item in store
|Cash for Clothes
|They buy by weight (£4.50 per 10 kilo bag) so a better option for low-end clothing you won’t sell for much elsewhere
2. Not all Clothes are Equal: Know When to Pay More
No matter your budget, you should spend more on some items in your wardrobe than others.
When to Buy More Expensive Clothes
It can be more economical to spend a bit more on frequently-worn staples, classic items that can be worn for years and shoes.
Clothes you know you’ll wear over and over: In the long run, it can be economical to pay a higher price tag for the clothing you wear most frequently. In buying high quality pieces with the durability to last through dozens of wash-and-wear cycles, your clothing won't need replacement as often and the per-wear cost becomes far more affordable.
For example, imagine you need a new everyday jumper. Paying £100 for a higher-quality item that you can wear 100 times (a cost of £1 per wear) actually ends up cheaper than paying £20 for a cheap, acrylic jumper that starts to look worn and bobbled and needs replacing after only 10 times (a cost of £2 per wear).
Classic items that won't go out of style: It sounds a bit boring, but there is truth to it. You can keep these items for years and they'll still be wearable. Plus, these are the pieces you can throw on in the morning without much thought, saving you time as well. In fact, many people start building an outfit with one well-fitting, classic article that they liven up with accessories or by pairing with a cheaper, on-trend piece.
Unique pieces you truly love: When you try on a special piece that is YOU, it can be worth paying a higher price tag. These are the items that will remain in your closet for years, or even decades, making an appearance when you really need to feel special. Think of pieces that might just be the new vintage one day.
Shoes: When it comes to shoes, we think paying for a high-quality pair is critical—and not just for the health of your wallet. Cheap, uncomfortable, poorly-made shoes will probably sit in your wardrobe unworn (a clear waste of money) and can cause foot, knee and even back pain for some people. Use your hard-earned money to pay for quality, not quantity, when it comes to footwear.
When to Buy Cheap as Chips
With fashion styles changing as quickly as the tides, those who like to wear on-trend clothing can easily be swayed into blowing their budget on clothes. To make matters worse, clothing shops change their floor selection so often that we’re enticed by new pieces each time we enter a store. It’s easier to stay within budget if you buy cheap when it comes to new season, trendy clothing.
If you’re looking for the latest trends or just need a quick pick-me-up item, there are many brands offering a combination of affordable pricing and on-trend fashion. Depending on your budget and style, you can find fast fashion pieces at stores like H&M, Asos, Very.co.uk, Zara, etc.
3. Hire a Dress for Special Occasions
Whether it’s a wedding, a ball or a trip to Ascot, there are times we all need a special occasion dress. Instead of buying an expensive gown you’ll rarely wear or settling for a cheap dress with no feel-good factor, consider hiring. You can hire a dress for around 10 to 22 percent of the retail price, which can save you a bundle. Sometimes the rental price even includes insurance and dry cleaning. You can hire dresses by Badgley Mischka, BCBG Max Mara, Monique Lhuillier, Nicole Miller that normally retail for over £500, for under £100 or so.
|Where to Hire a Dress or Gown in the UK
|Chic By Choice
|BCBG Max Azria, Herve Leger, Valentino, Monique Lhuillier, Nicole Miller, Temperley London, etc.; a 4 or 8 day dress rental includes: free backup size, dry cleaning & insurance and refunds on all unworn dresses
|Girl Meets Dress
|A 2 or 7 night rental includes dry cleaning; you can try 2 long or 3 short dresses and only pay for what you wear; insurance extra
|My Celebrity Dress
|From Cheryl Cole to Kim Kardashian, you can search for dresses according to your favourite celebrities
4. Use a Rewards Credit Card
Using a rewards credit card to pay for your purchases can earn you a bit of money back when you shop. The rewards rates in the UK are not spectacular, however. With typical cashback credit cards yielding in the range of 0.5% to 1.25% of spending, this is probably the least valuable tip on this page.
5. Shop During Sales
Huge opportunities are often created to acquire clothing at 50% off or more during sales events. If you're on any mailing lists for your favourite stores, look back through old emails to see when they tend to discount older or seasonal styles. You'll notice they follow a pretty regular pattern, which you can take advantage of if you're ready.
Sale season is also a great way to save money on workout clothes.
6. Visit Charity Shops
We recently found a beautiful Ted Baker wool coat for £20 in a local charity shop—it was like new and would probably retail for close to £300. Hidden gems like this aren't always easy to find, but if you get in the habit of poking through your local charity shop every now and then, you might get lucky. Inventory at some shops is better than others and isn't always consistently good quality, but it's certainly worth getting to know the shops in your area.
7. Check Washing Instructions
I grew up with my mother performing two checks on clothes before we could buy anything—she would scrunch up the fabric in her fist to see how easily it wrinkled and also check the washing instructions. Needless to say, Dry Clean Only items never made it to the register. Once you factor in the cost of dry cleaning, these "quality" items can become prohibitively expensive.
What can you do with the money you've saved on clothes? No matter the time of year, it's never too early to start saving for Christmas!