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How to be fashionable on a budget

Fashionable and Frugal – How to Save Money on Clothes

Posted on September 10, 2013 by John Schmoll in Frugal Living

The following is a contribution from Keren at Stepping it Down. If you’re interested in contributing to Frugal Rules, please consult our guidelines  and contact us.

While some children go back to school in early or mid-August, mine didn’t go back until after Labor Day. When I started preparing for school to start, I had exactly 4 weeks to get ready for a new school year. Part of this included making sure my kids are properly and appropriately clothed. I don’t necessarily believe in buying tons of outfits right before school starts. We bargain shop throughout the year so when I “school shop” it’s more for new sneakers, a couple of new outfits, and new unmentionables.

However, this year was a little different because my oldest, 7, just finished a significant growth spurt and went up an entire size. I wasn’t prepared for such a dramatic change! While I did have some larger-sized clothes put away that I found either on clearance or at yard sales, it wasn’t quite enough. While this post shows how I save money on clothes, the general concepts apply for all general clothing needs.

Yard Sales

Let’s face it. When you’re picking through clothes at some yard sales, there are more stains and rips on the clothes than there are threads. Being choosy is okay as long as the price is fitting. If you need outside play clothes for just at home, then the stained 10-cent pieces are perfect! For school, however, you may want to pay attention and really look over each piece carefully. We’ve had good luck this year at yard sales. I’ve found clothes for my oldest that looked brand new! Boys, however, are a little more difficult to clothe from yard sale purchases. Traditionally, boys are rougher on clothing than girls. Finding pants that don’t have holes in the knees can prove to be near impossible!

Clearance Racks

I love the end of summer and winter. Why? Because that’s when all of the clothes that didn’t sell all season go on clearance! Clearance prices can be handled differently depending on where you’re shopping. For example, Wal-Mart will typically put their non-selling items on clearance for $3-$5 to start. When they are picked through, they’ll lower it to $2. Then to $1. That’s when I hit the racks. $1 shorts and tank tops in several sizes will fit for years to come! And for $20 I can buy 20 items whereas if I paid full price, I’d get maybe 4. Another way I maximize my clearance savings is by using coupons. We just did some school shopping at Peebles recently. They were having 40-50% off of most of their brand-name school selections.

Now, keep in mind that their full price is around $30 per item. So at 50% off, it’s still $15. That’s too high for me. Enter the additional 20% off coupon I received in the mail! Now that $30 item is down to $12. Ok, this isn’t a GREAT price, but for the good-quality jeans and sweatshirts, I’m willing to pay that. I got my youngest, 5, some Carter’s pants on a “Buy One Get One for $1” sale. It was a winning weekend all around!

Consignment Shops are a Great Way to Save Money on Clothes

While consignment shopping is similar to yard sale shopping, there are a couple of ways you can increase your savings and help your community as well. There are a couple of great consignment shops near me. One of them is run by a non-profit company who employs developmentally disabled people. The workers truly enjoy the work that they do in the shop! They even let the workers price the clothing at what they think it’s worth. It’s a great experience. And they have a whole room full of items that are only 25 cents. I recently got a brand new blazer with the tags still on for 25 cents! Plus they steam clean all items before they put them on the racks. They run purely on donations, so technically I guess it’s a second hand store rather than a consignment shop, but it’s still great. The actual consignment shop I go to does take my clothing on consignment. Once I have some sales, I’ll collect my profits and turn around and restock the kids’ clothes in larger sizes. The community bonus? If they receive clothes that aren’t exactly saleable (stains, etc.), they donate them to a local women’s shelter. That makes my heart warm!


I have a niece and nephew that are both bigger in size than my children. My sister-in-law will sometimes give me bags of clothes that her children have outgrown. F-R-E-E! Yes, please! I have an older sister and I most definitely grew up wearing the clothes she no longer could wear. That’s just what we did! We knew no differently. Did you have a baby boy first, then a girl? I don’t think your baby girl will mind wearing monster truck pajamas or socks with footballs on them. Reuse them! Stop letting our commercialized society make you buy brand new items so they can line their pockets. Think of creative ways you can reuse these items in a new way.

Keren Clark is a freelance writer and blogger at Stepping It Down . She has worked in finance for the last 13 years, owns her own side business, writes, and takes care of her husband and 2 wonderful children. She also has a love of DIY, organic gardening and cooking, and saving money.

Category: Bank

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