Want to learn how to look amazing without breaking the bank? Today we’re going to look at the best frugal female fashion tips out there.
We’ll be looking at:
- Tips to save big money on clothing
- How to Reduce Spending on Clothing
- How to Stretch Your Frugal Female Dollars
- Learn how to fashion a frugal wardrobe
Let’s kick things off with strategy #1 so you can be a frugal fashionista in no time.
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Tips to Save Big Money
1. Shop Secondhand at a Thrift Store
This may seem like a no-brainer, but you would be surprised how many people don’t consider shopping for second hand clothing at stores like Goodwill. There are SO many great finds there, and some of the items you might buy at an online consignment store or ebay might have even come from Goodwill in the first place, as there are people who scour their stores for things to resell.
You can get some amazing secondhand pieces of clothing for just a few dollars. If you care about a brand name it may be a bit more, but it will still be far less than retail price.
The Facebook marketplace is a good place to look online for some amazing deals, as people sell things they no longer use there, usually at good prices.
2. Shop the Outlet Stores and Off-Price Department Stores.
We have a lot of outlet stores near where I live outside Nashville, TN. We even have entire outlet malls! These have stores like Old Navy outlet, which will have the same styles and choices you love but cheaper!
How does this work? Outlet stores are where the outdated and seasonal stock go from the regular store.
Often, you will also find that there are specific items made just for the outlet stores, but be careful if you have an item from the regular store and think you can get the exact same thing at the outlet. Often that’s not the case.
Here’s an example – I ordered a utility jacket from the Gap online that I absolutely love. Mine is in olive green, so imagine how excited I was to find what appeared to be the same jacket in tan and navy at the outlet.
The first time I wore one of the jackets I noticed how different it was from the one I loved. Even though I tried it on at the store, I didn’t notice how it was lacking a lining and the extra pockets of the original jacket.
That doesn’t mean that my jackets weren’t good, it’s just that they were noticeably lesser quality – so be sure of what you are getting when you buy at the outlet stores. Some items are absolutely going to be things that were at the original store, but others won’t be.
As for the off-price department store, most cities have a Marshall’s, Ross or TJ Maxx nearby, which are known for having name brand items that are overruns or last season. I love buying my luggage there! And, to save even more, even these stores have a clearance rack!
Don’t forget online outlet stores, too!
3. Shop during sales.
Lots of stores offer sales regularly throughout the year, sometimes even running deals where everything in the store is a certain percentage off! One of my favorite stores will offer a 30% off store sale, and if I really love a certain piece of clothing, I’ll often wait until the sale starts to pick it up. They often run the same deal online at the same time.
So check your favorite local stores and see when they have sales. You know the typical Black Friday and after Christmas sales are pretty much every store, so if you have your heart set on a certain brand, shop during these times for some sweet deals.
4. Shop in the off-season.
All stores reduce the clothes that are left on the rack at the end of the season to make room for the new clothes coming in. Get to know when your favorite stores mark down their items and shop in the off-season.
This will mean you have to store the items until next season (so if you’re buying shorts at the end of summer you will probably need to wait until next spring to bring them back out), so keep that in mind if you don’t have a lot of storage space, but you can save a lot this way, especially on staple items.
Keep in mind that if you are shopping for your kiddos that they might need the next size up since they grow so fast, so keep an eye on how their current clothes are fitting and if you aren’t sure, buy larger.
5. Shop at a Consignment Shop
We have a local consignment shop in town that sells really nice things at a great deal. Often the items look like they were never worn.
The difference between a consignment shop and a thrift store is that these clothes are not donated, they are “consigned”, which means the person who they belong to will get the bulk of the money, with the shop taking a cut for having the items in their store. The amount of money taken by the shop varies by store.
This is also a great way to sell items if you have some name brand stuff you’re looking to sell.
6. Use coupons and discount codes
I really love to do this, especially online! I hardly ever check out online without seeing if there is a discount code, and apps like Honey make it super easy because if you download them to your browser as an extension, they will automatically try all the coupon codes and give you the best one!
Some stores also use physical coupons or things like Kohl’s “cash” that you can use on a future trip, so these things are also worth keeping an eye out for.
7. Use sites like Rakuten
Rakuten is great because if you go through their website to a store you already use, you get money back for buying what you were already going to buy in the first place!!
If you were familiar with the Ebates site, then you know exactly what this is because Ebates is now Rakuten. This site even has me covered in the craft area, so I use it often on clothes, crafts and more!
8. Sign up for mailing lists of stores you love
I get some emails from stores I adore into my inbox because I want to keep an eye out for their sales. This way I never miss when they run their deep clearance events.
I especially like to do this for shoes, because my favorite Naturalizer shoes will go on sale sometimes for a deep discount. Last fall I scored a pair of wide calf Naturalizer boots for only $25 through their website!! They retailed for over $200! The email said 50% off all boots so I took a look, found a pair on clearance in my size for $50 and the coupon code worked for 50% off that! I love them!
9. Don’t be afraid to check yard sales
I know, I know – yard sales?? But really, you can score some sweet deals at yard sales, like shirts for only a dollar or two! The real secret? Go to the super nice area of town for name brand items.
I’ve found some really nice things at yard sales, for myself and especially for my kids. Since kids grow so fast the clothes often look new!
10. Check eBay
eBay isn’t quite the place it once was for super sweet deals, but sometimes you can find things there for a good price. It’s definitely worth looking. I sold all of my maternity items on eBay and it was great! The women buying them got a great deal and I got a bit of money to spend on some new clothes for myself.
How to Reduce Spending on Clothing
1. Organize and Declutter Your Closet
Let’s face it, it’s hard to know what you need until you take a good look at what you have. I went through my clothes when I read The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up (way before it was a craze!) and I really loved getting all my clothes together in one place and going through them. I could not believe how many clothes I had!!
Once I waded through my closet and figured out what I actually wanted to keep, I could figure out where the gaps were in my wardrobe and formulate a plan to fill those creatively (and inexpensively!).
If you haven’t checked out that book yet, I highly suggest you do. When it says life changing it really can be if you let it!
2. Get Creative with what you Already Have
Start a Pinterest board, a folder of images on your computer or even a physical notebook of things that interest you. Look for outfits you love that just speak to you.
I have a Pinterest board called “fashion finds” that I use for inspiration. It helped me determine what my style was as well. When I looked at the outfits I had saved I saw a definite theme and I started basing my wardrobe more around these outfits.
Pay attention to pieces in these outfits that are the same or similar to things already in your closet. Can you pair things you already have to get a similar look? Maybe add an accessory or two for a new look? You’ll be surprised at what you can do with what you already have.
3. Shop your friends’ closets or host a clothing swap
This is great if you have a friend or two about the same size as you. Borrow from each other or even host a night where you all bring clothes you no longer wear and exchange them.
Totally free and you all get new things to wear. Win-win!
4. Stop caring about brands
I know, I used to get caught up in this, too and there are still some brands I really love more than others, but it’s got to be about the quality, not the name.
Some brands are known for their quality, and this is the way to go if you want a certain brand and also care about quality at the same time, but for true frugal female fashion you will not pay retail price for these items.
Learn how to identify quality clothing and care more about the way it’s made and the fit than the designer.
5. Quit shopping for fun
Let’s face it, most of the time you end up buying something if you go out to a store. It’s just so easy to think “I’ll just get this one thing”, but the reality is that if you didn’t go the store you wouldn’t buy that item – and it’s probably not something you really need, so pick up another hobby instead of shopping.
6. If you must shop, leave your credit card at home and make a budget
Just say “no” to credit! Here at Simple Steps we are all about getting out of debt, so don’t use that credit card to build your wardrobe.
Instead, make a budget and stick to it. You want nice things that retail for $200? Fine, just keep an eye on the sales or second hand stores and spread out your purchases so you don’t go over budget. It might take longer for you to finish your wardrobe, but your finances will thank you.
7. If you must shop, shop with a list!
This will help you resist impulse buys. I always grocery shop with a list, but it took me a long time to learn that I needed to shop other stores with a list as well, including clothes. So now after I figure out what I need I make a list before I head to the store.
One of the things that has really helped me is the capsule wardrobe concept, detailed below. I found a great capsule wardrobe planner that was my style and it helped me narrow down what I was looking for – and gave me a list!
8. Rent out formal wear
Let’s face it, you probably don’t wear super fancy dresses very often (or the men in your life a tux!), so when you really need to dress up, rent it! There are lots of places that will rent a dress for the evening.
My sister in law even rented her wedding dress! Sure beats one lying around in an attic somewhere waiting to be worn again (which probably won’t happen).
How to Stretch Your Frugal Fashion Dollars
Learn to take care of the clothes you have
1. Know how to properly wash and dry. Keep an eye on the labels of your clothes for the recommended way to wash and dry. Most clothes say machine wash cold, but many people wash in hot water! Also, many are tumble dry low and we don’t follow that, either.
Washing your clothes in the way the manufacturer recommends will help extend their life and help them look new longer.
2. Get familiar with stain removal. Let’s face it this happens to everyone. Treating a stain immediately will help get it out, and if you can’t do that be aware of the different ways to treat stains.
3. Learn how to complete minor repairs. Don’t throw out your favorite top or pair of pants because it loses a button! Learn how to sew on a button yourself – it’s super easy and can add years to the life of your clothing.
It’s also a good idea to learn how to repair a seam, so if you get a small tear in your clothing you will be able to fix it before it gets worse. Unfortunately there are things that aren’t repairable (like a hole in your pants that isn’t a seam – only a patch will work here if you want it to), but a lot of things can be fixed.
4. Learn which clothes should be folded, not hung. This is also something I learned from The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. It told not only what to fold, but how, to conserve space and make it easy to find everything!
5. Don’t over-wash. Did you know you don’t have to wash your clothes after every wear? Especially for jeans, this is a good rule to follow. Obviously it depends on what you were doing when the clothes were worn (don’t save sweaty gym clothing to wear next time!), but most items that are gently worn can be worn again before washing (except undergarments lol).
Look for Easy Care Clothing
It’s a good idea to check the care label on an item of clothing you are about to buy. Steer clear of the “dry clean only” labels unless you are willing to spend the money to dry clean it, or the time to carefully hand wash it (which doesn’t always work out as well).
Make sure you are getting an item that doesn’t need ironing or special care.
Save your Receipts Until You’re Sure You Love the Items
Sometimes we think we love something at the store but then we get it home and we just aren’t sure about it anymore, so it languishes in the back of the closet.
Save your receipts if you buy from a store that accepts returns, and don’t throw them away until you are sure you really love the clothing purchases that you pick out.
Sell Your Old Clothing
I mentioned above how I sold my old clothing on eBay, and there are tons of other sites out there that will allow you to sell name brand items. If you have anything of value, sell it to get money for the new items you want in your wardrobe.
How to Fashion a Frugal Wardrobe
1. Learn what colors and styles look best on you
This one is HUGE! If you know what colors and styles of clothes look best on you, then you are a big step ahead of everyone else and won’t waste your time checking out things that don’t flatter you.
Aren’t sure what colors look best on you? I learned a lot from Elemental Colour, even down to what make up colors look best on me! I threw out the stark black and love my look so much more.
The best way to find out what styles of clothes look best is to take your measurements and then enter them into a Body Shape Calculator. Then, once you’ve found out the shape you are you can do some research to find out the styles that look best.
2. Create a capsule wardrobe
A capsule wardrobe is a closet of clothes that all go together so that there is no guessing “do these match?”. The clothing all coordinates and usually revolves around a main neutral color or two.
For me, black is not a color that should be in my closet (although I wore a lot of it before I knew that!) so I chose a deep navy blue for my main neutral, accented by cream. Then I chose accent shades that went with these two colors.
Now, I can mix and match anything in the closet and it’s super easy to get dressed in the morning!
If you want more information about capsule wardrobes, you need to check here.
3. Buy solid color or neutral clothing
Let’s face it, women’s fashion changes super fast, so invest in pieces that are timeless. This usually will mean a solid color or at least a neutral palette.
If you use the capsule wardrobe idea as mentioned above, then you will have a neutral or two as your base so this will be easy peasy.
The fashion industry has led us to believe that we have to keep up with the trends, but by going with neutral, classic pieces you can wear them year after year.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this rundown of easy ways to do frugal female fashion! Frugality is more a mindset of getting more from your money than it is about doing without, and that goes for your wardrobe, too!
Live the frugal life your way.
Helping you style your best life… one simple step at a time!