When it comes to clothing and fashion, I have a strict rule for myself to help me save money: If it isn’t an exclusive item, never pay full price for it. This has helped me to use the money that I saved for other things like gifts and vacations.
Being efficient with money and hunting for deals isn’t easy though. It requires a lot of research to compare prices between the different vendors and to look for alternatives. Lucky for you, I’ve compiled a list of my top 5 ways to save money when buying clothing:
1. Thrift Shops and Consignment Stores
Some people shudder at the idea of wearing secondhand clothing, but if you can look past that, you won’t believe the things you could find at thrift stores and consignment shops. I’ve purchased brand name items from these stores for 80-90% off the retail price. Some stores may have their own special deals on top of the already low prices, so imagine the killer deals you could find!
From my experience, the types and styles of clothing found at these stores depend on the neighborhood the thrift stores are located in. Since it’s usually the locals who trade in their clothing to the stores, they basically determine the inventory. For example, if a neighborhood is known to be a hipster haven, the thrift stores would carry mostly hipster clothing.
Some popular thrift shops and consignment stores are:
2. Garage & Estate Sales
Garage sales and estate sales can sell just about anything, from toys to furniture to clothing. Unlike thrift shops and consignment stores, it’s pretty difficult to gauge exactly what would be sold. If the garage sale does have what you’re looking for, there’s a high chance that you’ll be paying close to nothing for it.
Hard to believe? Here are a few things I’ve bought at these sales:
- Levi’s Skinny Jeans – $2
- Vintage Adidas Leather Bowling Bag – $3
- Chicago Blackhawks Snapback Cap – $3 (brand new)
You can find information about the garage and estate sales around your area by doing a quick Google search. The trick is to do your research and be picky about which sales to attend. When you look at sale listings, the host usually provides a summary of the items being sold. This should be enough information for you to decide whether it’s worth your time (and money).
3. Online Listing Sites
Online listing sites like eBay and Craigslist allow third-party sellers to submit auction or for-sale listings. Buyers would then search through the listings for what they want.
The prices for brand name items on eBay and Craigslist aren’t usually as great as thrift stores or garage sales, but you could still find some gems if you look hard enough. I like to scan the listings for steals on the brands I like, but they don’t come by often. But when you do find a bargain, it’s like striking gold.
If you don’t care for brand names and are only striving for a specific style or look, Amazon is a great option. Like eBay and Craigslist, third-party sellers on Amazon offer brand name products, but they also offer many off-brand items. I can usually find the off-brand equivalent of a brand name piece for less than half the price.
4. Flea Markets & Swap Meets
Flea markets and swap meets are gatherings of independent sellers typically inside stadiums or lot spaces.
Brand names are more difficult to come by at these events. If you do find them, don’t expect much of a bargain. From past experiences, flea markets and swap meets are best-suited for buying local brands or basic pieces (e.g., unbranded t-shirts, hoodies, etc). You can also shop around for other items of interest like artwork, electronics, and jewelry, just to name a few.
The best way to find flea markets and swap meets around your area is to do a quick Google search.
5. Discount Stores
If you’ve tried all of the above and you still can’t find what you’re looking for, you can try discount stores like Ross or Marshalls.
In terms of clothing, discount stores carry a lot of lesser-known brands, but they also carry some brand names as well. You just need to be very thorough when looking through the racks and shelves.
Some of the things I bought that are worth mentioning:
- Levi’s Skinny Jeans – $15 (MSRP ~$70)
- Nike Elite Basketball Socks – $5 (MSRP $14)
- Lifted Research Group T-Shirt – $7 (MRSP $32)