How to save money on clothes & fashion

Loans 2 Go tips to save money

2020 has been a strange year in so many different ways. Amongst other things, the pandemic has had a huge financial impact and affected the way we spend money.

In our recent article Tips on how to save money during Covid-19 we looked at some of the things that people were not spending money on during lockdown. One of these was clothes. As Lord Wolfson, the boss of Next, said: “People do not buy a new outfit to stay at home”.

Apart from a relatively short-lived craze for “Zoom tops”, with people trying to look good during online meetings, most of us didn’t buy many clothes during lockdown. In fact, recent research from the charity Oxfam found that over a third of women aged between 18 and 55 did not buy any new clothes at all during lockdown.

But now that lockdown has eased in most places, and the majority of non-essential shops are open again, are we dashing out to buy clothes? Certainly there was an initial surge in demand when shops reopened in June. And we hope that those clothing retailers that have been able to keep going during these troubled times will now go from strength to strength.

But what if you are in the position where you really can’t afford to buy any new clothes? Your finances have been hammered during Covid-19 and there is just no slack in the system for anything other than the bare essentials? But autumn will soon be on its way and there are going to be things that you need. What do you do?

Well, there are ways to get round this.

 

Buy less clothes to save money

Even before lockdown, there was a growing trend to stop buying as many new clothes. Last year, Oxfam ran a campaign called Second Hand September in which supporters pledged to buy no new clothes for the month of September. The aim of the campaign was to reduce the amount of clothing ending up in landfill. This May, Extinction Rebellion launched their one year Fashion Boycott along similar lines.

Various journalists and celebrities – including Strictly’s Katya Jones – have tried going for a specific period of time without buying new clothes. The overwhelming reaction is positive. As well as saving money, advantages include enjoying rediscovering things that you already have, learning to be creative about combining different outfits together, and saving time on shopping and returning items.

But what if there are new clothes that you really do need? Buying them second hand will save you money as well as the environmental and other advantages we have just looked at. 

But where is the best place to do this? And how do you ensure that you are not just buying someone else’s rubbish?

 

Where to buy second hand clothes

There are many places where you can buy second hand clothes, either in store or online. 

For stores try local charity shops, or antique shops if you like vintage clothing. Many such shops have now reopened with all the necessary Covid-related measures in place. You will need to be prepared to browse as obviously everything is a one-off item and you can’t guarantee what will or will not be there. But there are many bargains to be had and you will be helping to support either a charity or a local business

There are also many online auction and selling sites, for example:

As well as searching for specific items that you want, it can also be worth including the word “bundle” or “job lot” in your search. You can often find a listing that includes several items which a seller does not have time to list individually, so can work out at incredible value. And if there are some of the items that either don’t fit or you don’t like, you can always pass them onto friends or your local charity shop: you will still bag a bargain.

 

Other ways to be clever with clothes

But you’ll be pleased to know that you don’t even have to shop at all to expand your wardrobe! 

We’ve come up with the “three R’s” of how to be clever with clothes:

Rediscover

It’s a really good idea to do a regular wardrobe inventory to see exactly what you do have. Most of us have so many things that we really have no idea what is lurking in there. There may be things that you definitely need to get rid of, but you may also rediscover some hidden gems.

So why not set aside a morning or afternoon to go through all your stuff and have a dress up session? See what does and does not fit, and try on different combinations to see which items may work together that you’ve never previously thought of.

Repurpose

What about if there is something that you like but is no longer quite right? Even if you are not an expert seamstress, there is usually something that you can do to change an outfit. 

For example if something is too long you can take up the hem, or if it’s too short then how about adding some trim to the bottom? If a skirt is just a little too tight then could you add another fastener with a longer loop? Or if a dress gapes at the front then either add a press stud or find a matching or contrasting cami to wear underneath. And could that boring long-sleeved shirt be transformed into a stylish sleeveless top?

There is a lot you can do to bring unworn clothes back into circulation again. Start with some small easy changes, then as you grow in confidence you could find yourself creating a whole new wardrobe!

Redistribute

Talk to friends and family to see if anyone is thinking along the same lines as you regarding clothes shopping. You could then arrange a small get together – online if this is easier – and each offer a few items that you no longer want. This could be a great way of refreshing your wardrobe and also helping each other declutter.

Also be open to the possibility of borrowing from and lending to friends. This may not be as applicable during social distancing, but there may still be occasions where you are doing something special and want to wear something different. Perhaps a friend has something that’s perfect and would be willing to lend it to you, as long as you look after it well and launder it properly afterwards. And vice versa.

 

So, if you want to refresh your wardrobe this autumn, but really need to save money on your clothes spending, we hope that the above ideas will help to point you in the right direction.

Check back here soon for more money saving and lifestyle tips from Loans 2 Go.