Shopping for Clothes on a Budget

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I love clothes! Obviously. But more importantly, I also enjoy financial security. No matter how adorable I look trying on an out-of-budget sweater, it is never worth it if I know that I barely have the money for it. Fortunately, shopping doesn’t always have to expensive or at least, as expensive as the original price. Here are a few easy tips and advice on saving some of your beloved money to help build up your beloved closet. Perhaps you may be familiar with some of these and if so, then good job! A dollar saved is another dollar to buy more clothes!

1. E-mail Newsletters

If you’re anything like me, you probably have at least one or two emails from middle school that you don’t even use anymore out of embarrassment. If not then I would recommend to create a new email dedicated to shopping otherwise you will severely regret using your personal or business account.

Several stores will usually entice shoppers by offering a one-time use coupon/discount upon sign-up. Oftentimes, it will be 10 or 15% percent discount or even free shipping on your first purchase. From there on, you will receive emails throughout the week with new updates such as flash sales, new arrivals, and on occasions, some secret discounts!

I’ll admit some stores are borderline spammers while others offer great perks and worthwhile updates so it’s a matter of experimenting. For avid shoppers, these emails are a godsend. I can’t count how many times I’ve bought items from my wish list on sale thanks to these little helpers.

Calvin Klein newsletter pop-up

2. One-Week Rule

Mainly utilized when considering more costly items, this is something I follow personally to always keep myself grounded and my impulses at bay:

If you feel even slightly unsure on buying an item, simply wait one week.

After one week passes and you still feel like your life will not be the same without that one product, then go ahead and purchase it. On the other hand, if you realize that you reeeally didn’t need that shirt or jacket in the first place, then kudos to you! You just saved some cash!

Let’s be real. Sometimes when we shop we let our excitement and emotions overcome us when we find that perfect accessory or that beautiful winter jacket. This is dangerous. Of course, we should treat ourselves and enrich our lives with amusement whether that be clothes or food, but we should never be overspending to the point of buyer’s remorse. A purchase should always feel like a purchase and never a debt.

The only exception to this rule is if the item is selling out extremely quickly. In that case, use your critical thinking skills and make an appropriate decision.

3. Off-season Purchases

People think I’m crazy when they see me trying on jackets when it’s 95 degrees out in the middle of July, but it’s the perfect time to shop for cheaper prices. Stores will make attempts to sell as much of their products as best as they can for maximum profits.  Consequently, merchandise will be marked down heavily when it is out of season. Heavy coats and jackets will be cheaper during spring. And swimming trunks and shorts will be marked down during fall.

Do not purchase only off-season otherwise you will have so many clothes that you won’t even be able to wear however I do recommend it every once in awhile for some superb savings. I’ve bought all my Doc Martens during their end-of-season sales and as a result, I have saved literally hundred of dollars through sheer patience. So if you’ve been eyeing a jacket or shirt that’s slightly out of budget, wait some time and you may end up purchasing it at half the price.

4. Student Discounts

If you are a college student and not taking advantage of student discounts then what are you waiting for?! Your status as a student gives you access to lots of small discounts and it always shocks me to see how little people take advantage of this. One of my particularly favorite sites is Unidays. It grants you dozens of discounts and is very user friendly.

All you have to do is simply register your student email and the system will verify your school status. Once you are finished, simply choose the store you are shopping from and click “Get Online”. From there, you will receive a coupon code which you copy/paste onto your shopping cart and voila! Discounts on discounts! Best of all, as long as you remain an enrolled student, several coupons are reusable.

Here’s a list of clothing stores that offer student discount many of which are offered thru Unidays

Forever 21





Cotton On


Urban Outfitters

Rag & Bone

5. Fads vs. Trends

Often used interchangeably, these two words have extremely different definitions. A fad is a an extremely brief surge of popularity for a certain item, style, or aesthetic which oftentimes, leave as fast as they come. Think of man buns or popped-up polo shirts and how little we see these nowadays.

Meanwhile, a trend is a general direction or pattern which fashion is slowly heading towards. A recent example is athleisure and its long-term success in men’s fashion these past few years. Joggers, track jackets, athletic shoes are all the rage nowadays and you can find these influences in virtually almost any store. Trends are not eternal either but they will be explored by several designers throughout the seasons and will stick longer than a fad could ever manage.

Why is this distinction important? Simple. Distinguishing the difference between these two will help you spend your money on clothes that will be timeless. Spending money on fads is okay, but you will find that over time your item will look outdated and you will be the epitome of “so last season.”

Spend money on the things your heart desires, but also on clothes that don’t expire. Ok, that was cheesy but you get the idea. .

6. Second-hand Clothing

Vintage. Thrift shops. Second-hand.

What used to be a hipster’s paradise is now a common shopping ground for lots of fashionistas. The nostalgia factor on top of the cheaper prices make this type of shopping less of a stress. Clothing will always depreciate the very second you buy it therefore, you are almost guaranteed to pay less than what the original price was.

Although this may sound like common sense, it is imperative to inspect the clothing closely to see if there are any permanent stains or indication of damage. Stores that offer rare items or designer clothing might be a little more costly so it is even more crucial to check for quality and make certain that your money reflects the clothing’s degree of quality.

When purchasing second-hand I always recommend to get stand-out items like a shirt with a exquisite design or a fancy coat. Do not purchase your wardrobe staples at one of these stores (i.e. dress shirts, crew neck T-shirt, etc.) because it is a lot more sound to purchase these items new instead of used. Along with this, do not purchase an item if it costs the same price range as purchasing it brand new. 

7. Factory Stores/Outlets

Perhaps this might be a challenge depending on where you reside, but if you have any outlet malls or factory stores near you it would be wise to pay them a visit. There are some online as well but generally, most of them will be at a physical location.

An outlet store is essentially a shop that sells a brand’s merchandise that did not perform well, is out of season, or perhaps never released. Some have been accused of making lower quality knock offs of their own products so I would recommend doing some thorough research on reviews beforehand.

Dr. Martens Online Store

There are always sales and discounts going on in these shops. Always. And I’m not talking about a meek 10% storewide markdown either. I’ve seen racks of sweaters for 70% off or jackets at 50% and so on. Many brands from high end to low end will have their very own outlets which includes expensive lines such as Calvin Klein, Michael Kors, and Coach. That being said, no matter how prestigious the brand, always judge whether the product’s quality matches that of the brand and its reputation.

I hope you found at least one new way of saving some cash that you’ve never heard of before! Almost my whole closet has been purchased either through sales, coupons, or discounts and I have absolutely no shame in admitting this. The best accessory for any fashionista is having some money in the bank!

Make sure to follow me on Instagram for updates and feel free to share some of your own advice down below!

-Valley Boi

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