Where should you look to buy quality clothes for less? When it comes to buying clothes on a budget, I think there are two important things to keep in mind:
1. Quality Doesn’t Equal Expensive
Growing up, I used to think that quality clothes equaled expensive clothes. And that meant two things:
- If you want to buy something of higher quality, you have to spend more.
- If something was more expensive, it must automatically be of a higher quality.
I didn’t understand that other things, besides quality, factor into why some items are priced higher than others – things likecompetition, brand positioning, and perceived value.
2. Cheap Can Be More Expensive Than You Think
Kiplingers featured an article on the high cost of cheap clothing. It said that Americans are spending the smallest percentage of our income on clothing that we’ve ever spent, but we’re throwing our money away on $20 items here and $20 items there that we only wear a few times and then discard.
They called this the “psychology of cheap,” explaining that we just don’t value things we pay little for.
Their point was that it makes more sense (because it saves more cents in the long run) to buy a small quantity of higher quality items of clothing and shoes that will last and look good for a long time (even if they cost more money up front), than to buy higher quantities of cheaper shoes and clothes that don’t last long and have to be replaced more often.
Where to Buy Quality Clothes for Less
So where do you look if you want to find good, quality clothes at a price you can afford? There are plenty of options to choose from for quality new and used clothes for less. Here are a few:
Thrift stores can be a great place to buy quality clothes for less. But…and this is a big but…you need to be very patient and may have to sort through a lot of junk to find the right thing you’re looking for. Personally, as an XL size man, I have very little success in finding quality clothes my size at a thrift store. My petite wife says its because many men wear clothes until they wear out. On the other hand, she finds quality name brand items she loves nearly every time she hits the thrift store. As an added bonus, most thrift stores that I’m aware of are run by non-profit organizations, and the profits support some kind of cause or social enterprise.
A consignment shop is a secondhand store where individual people sell their quality, like-new brand name or designer clothes. When an item is sold, the profits are split between the owner of the clothes and the owner of the shop, as agreed upon in advance. While prices vary, you can expect to pay around 20-40% of retail price.
Garage and Yard Sales
You can find incredible deals on clothes – especially baby and kids clothes – for pennies on the dollar at garage and yard sales. But things are hit and miss. Sometimes you see an ad for a sale and you go there and find that all the good stuff is already gone. Other times you just happen to stumble upon a sale while you’re out driving one day, you stop in and find just what you’ve been looking for.
Second Best Sales
Some churches and community groups sponsor second best sales, where new and quality used or like new clothes are sold and a portion of the proceeds benefits the church or community group. Where I live, a Jewish synagogue and the YMCA are both famous for hosting second best sales, and people mark their calendars to make sure they shop them each year.
Department Store Sales & Discount Racks
If you want to buy new, quality name brand items at value prices, department stores can be a good bet if you know when and where to shop them. The Christmas season (starting with Black Friday) is a great time for sales and deals on clothes. Women’s clothes go on sale in May for Mother’s Day. Men’s clothes go on sale in June for Father’s Day. Kids’ clothes go on sale in August for back to school. And there are plenty of other sales throughout the year, but you have to keep your eyes open to know when they are so you can take advantage of them.
And don’t forget to check the discount racks, where you’ll routinely find clothes on sale for 60-90% off the original retail price. My wife almost exclusively buys her clothes from the discount racks these days. Last week, I saw a leather jacket that was originally priced at $600, but was going for $100 now. I didn’t buy it, but I’ll go back in a week to see if it’s still there…and any cheaper.
Discount & Outlet Stores
Discount stores like TJ Maxx and Marshall’s offer name brand quality clothes at 20-60% off retail. They get their inventory from manufacturer overruns and department store overbuys and order cancellations.
Some manufacturers like Columbia and Eddie Bauer have their own factory outlet stores where they sell their own overruns and closeouts at a discount. And some high end department stores like Sax Fifth Avenue and Nordstrom have their own outlet stores, like Sax Off Fifth and Nordstrom Rack, where they sell their overbuys and closeouts off-price.
Online shopping makes it easy to find brand name, quality clothes for less. First, you can price shop to find the best deals among local and national department stores in your area and make your purchases in-store or online. Second, you can use Craigslist to find local deals on new and used clothes, and e-Bay to buy from sellers around the world. And third, you can buy directly from e-tailers like Amazon, Hautelook.com, 10dollarmall.com, and hundreds of other sites.
Somebody Has to Pay Retail, But…
A wise person once told me that “Somebody has to pay retail – but it doesn’t have to be you.” And it won’t be you, either, when you know where to buy quality clothes for less.
Three tips on how to buy quality clothes for less
Here are three keys for buying quality clothes for less…
- Know what you want in terms of quality and style
- Know your prices, so you’ll recognize a great deal when you see one
- Be patient and take your time to find what you’re looking for at the price you’re willing to pay
What are your favorite tips for buying quality clothes for less?