By the time spring rolls around, many of us are ready for something new…like a new wardrobe. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average family spends $1800 on clothing each year so even if you’re not feeling spring fever, clothing makes up a significant line item of most budgets.
There are ways, however, to get a new look for lesswithout sacrificing quality that you may want to consider.
Use a consignment shop: Consignment shops offer clothes and accessories that are in-season, and they’re at a discounted price because they’re second-hand. Consignment stores differ from thrift shops as items are typically individually selected, meaning you’ll typically do less looking through racks to find what you like. The other neat thing about consignment shops is that many have a program where you can exchange your own clothes and make a bit of money (sometimes as store credit). In a sense, this is a win-win- you can offload some of the clothes you no longer enjoy while getting a discount on new items (while some stores offer a cash back option, they tend to offer store credit as incentive).
Some local consignment shops in Chicago are:
Just a note as you clean out your closet this spring and decide to potentially donate clothes, only give away those that are in great condition. Otherwise, organizations that receive your donation will have to pay to dispose of unusable items.
Check out sites like ThredUp and Ebay. ThredUp is a popular online version of a consignment shop. If you have clothes to trade-in, they will mail you a bag, and look over the contents you mail back letting you know what’s useable for them. If they decide not to use certain items, they “responsibly recycle” them. Also online retailers like Ebay let you sell second hand items, or find unique vintage pieces. Stores that sell previously worn clothing are a great option if you can’t get to an actual consignment shop, enjoy online shopping, and have some items of your own that you’d like to make a profit on.
Swap with a friend (or friends). If you’re feeling “meh” about your wardrobe, chances are, some of your friends may be as well. Suggest a clothing swap, where everyone brings a couple items they no longer want, and trade with each other. You may even consider doing an accessory swap instead, where everyone brings in items like scarves, necklaces, etc. and trades. This article in the Chicago Tribune has some great ideas to host your own swap. Some organizations also host swaps as part of fundraisers or other get togethers. Just search ‘swap meet’, ‘frock swap’, or ‘clothing swap’ in your favorite search engine or event directory (Eventbrite, Meetup, Facebook Events, etc.) and you’ll find events like Swapadventure.
Follow some blogs. Within the world of personal finance blogs, there are some who focus solely on fashion. For example, Budget Babe offers a blog post series called “Celebrity Looks for Less” that finds cheaper alternatives to popular looks. The Penny Pincher Fashion is another fashion blog that focuses on affordable, seasonal looks, as well as things like how to repurpose certain items, like a jacket, for use all year long. Even just looking on Pinterest can be a great resource for finding unique ways to save on clothing and shopping as well.
Commit to a capsule wardrobe. One way to buy less is to give yourself some parameters. The capsule wardrobe craze has those using the system commit to a set number of items (37 pieces some number around that) that hang in their closet for a season then switch out the items for a new set each season. This keeps the number of items down and allows the user to focus on pieces they need to complete their looks (or invest in pieces since they are buying less overall). Here’s an article about capsule wardrobes and how to build them.
No matter what style solution works for you, we hope we’ve given you some that also work for your budget and your life.