How to save money on clothes

I wasn’t surprised to read in Good Housekeeping that the average UK woman spends around £600 a year on clothes. I know quite a few who spend a lot more than that! I was quite shocked to find in the same article that women’s wardrobes also contain around £300 of clothes that never get worn. I addressed this in my Great Wardrobe Challenge post a few months back. 

I don’t spend anything like this amount. Last year the items  I purchased new were as follows:

 One pair of leather boots, reduced from £60 to £14.40.

Several vests in assorted colours from Primark, about £15.

3 long sleeved black tops, also from Primark, about £12.

A Wallis top, my one extravagance, bought with a 20% discount for £25.

One pair of black suede loafers, £20.

Some socks and underwear, around £25.

Mr S also  bought me a pair of Next jeans as part of my Christmas present, but I won’t count those towards my total.

A blue lace blouse from eBay, £6. 

I honestly can’t remember buying anything else new. I did make several second-hand purchases, including some tops, skirts, a cardigan, shoes and more jeans from charity shops and boot sales. I would estimate I spent about £40 on these, so a grand total of £111.40. I never look like a tramp – I’m sure my friends would tell me if I did 😀. If you need to save money you can easily do so by hitting the boot sales – the time to do this in the UK  is right now! Boot sale season is underway.

The article also said that families are spending more than ever before on their children’s clothes: an average annual figure of almost £800 per child! I was fortunate in that mine were more than happy to wear used clothes and hand me downs, and never demanded expensive designer brands. Now that they are all independent they all buy far too many clothes in my view, but are still savvy bargain hunters!

We also all sell items we no longer use on eBay if they are in good condition.

If you are trying to budget and save money, first take a long look at what you have. If you don’t wear it, sell or donate it. Then consider what you actually need. Don’t buy stuff just for the sake of it, even if it is secondhand. Consider quality used items of clothing rather than new. If you have to buy new, take advantage of the sales. 

It is also worth checking eBay for new items. I wanted a Zara coat a few years ago. It was £120 in the shop but I found  exactly the same one for £70 brand new. The same with some leather Hotter boots. £135 in the catalogue: I got mine for £50 online!

Finally, look after your clothes and footwear. I keep mine for years. I don’t launder them every time I wear them unless they are actually dirty as they diminish with each wash, and I keep my shoes and boots clean and polished. 

How much do you spend? How do you save money on clothing?

12 thoughts on “How to save money on clothes

  1. It is good to hear you say that polishing and looking after shoes is important. I love polishing shoes! So many people don’t polish their shoes. The leather needs feeding to stay supple and looked after properly, shoes will last for years. I have a box of polishes and waxes and I really like buffing the shoes to a high shine after applying them (unless they are suede, of course). I also get my shoes heeled as required. I can’t stand worn down heels.

    I used to buy so many clothes during my career days. When I finished work my suits and coats etc. hung in wardrobe unworn and after about a year, I realised that I just wasn’t going to wear them, so over a period of three months I started listing them on eBay. I made almost £800. I buy very few items nowadays and made a pledge in January not to buy any clothes this year until the summer. So far, I’m sticking to it…..but I did get some shoes that were totally irresistible.

  2. I found your blog recently and really enjoy your posts – so positive and thought-provoking. I find it’s become a lot easier to be thrifty with clothes as I’ve got older and know more confidently what suits me and what doesn’t and what I will genuinely have an opportunity to wear and what I won’t as that saves making all sorts of impulse purchases that, whatever they cost, are a waste of money. I do love sewing so I make quite a lot of my own clothes and although fabric can be expensive it doesn’t have to be. Made a couple of straight short needlecord skirts recently for £10 each in terms of the fabric, for example. Both of which I’ve already worn a lot. I don’t wear and therefore don’t buy sheer tights, only opaque or thick ones. I prefer the look and it saves a lot of money as the thick ones last much longer and don’t ladder. I’ve found investing in good quality knitwear that stands up to repeated hand-washing when needed has saved me money in the long run too. I have a number of cardigans well over a decade old and still going strong on this basis. If possible, I mend things and have developed a style of sewing machine mend using a patch behind the fabric and a three-step zig-zag stitch on top that has saved a number of favourite garments from early retirement. Like Eloise, I enjoy polishing my shoes! I brush my suede ones if they get mud or anything on them with a wire brush and then spray with that waterproofing protector. Again has made the suede last and look good for years and years which saves a great deal of money over time even if the shoes were quite expensive to begin with. As a general rule I find investing in good quality items that I will wear a lot and will respond well to being looked after a good way to get the most from my money. Have a lovely Sunday! Elizabeth x

    • I think you are so right, Elizabeth. Age brings the confidence to be ourselves and our dress style is a big part of who we are. I dress very, very differently from the woman I was at work. I still work part time but in a totally different kind of role. I now dress to suit me rather than what was expected in the corporate world.

  3. I always polish and look after my boots/shoes. Every spring I put my boots away all nicely polished ready for the next year. I have 4 pairs of knee length boots collected over a period of at least 15 years and they are as good as new. As for clothes, I only ever buy clothes that are in sales with a lot knocked off the price. These might not be the current season but this doesn’t bother me – I gave up following trends as a teenager! I also have quite a few quality garments from charity shops – bought for pennies!

    • I love my boots and, like you, keep them for years. I have a pair of gold ballerina style shoes from the 1980s and still wear them…….testament to the value of polishing and generally looking after footwear!

  4. As expected DH is the big spender in our family = £194.00 for the last 12 months, not including socks and undies which he goes through like water, or the clothes he bought with his own money!!

    Me: £104.58 which included party clobber & shoes for DH’s posh works Xmas do!

    Kids (5 aged 15-22 last year) averaged out at £56.12 per child, but that also included DH’s underwear as I couldn’t differentiate it from the rest of the Primark totals! 😀

    I’m amazed mine is that high as I hate clothes shopping with a passion!

    • I was the same, julia and thought mine would be lower . Great spends on the kids.

  5. My biggest extravagance is next petite jeans in the winter. I love summer though, I buy primark vests and t shirts and team them with per una and monsoon skirts that I source from charity shops or eBay! I often get comments on my skirts. I love being slightly individual and buying from charity shopsas it means you aren’t wearing the same as everyone else. I wear a uniform to work and I use old jeans for dog walking and painting. My mother has four wardrobes, a lot of the clothes still have labels on and I’m forever moaning at her for it!

  6. I don’t buy much and have moved to buying better quality but second hand when I do buy. I’ve not regretted leaner closet.

  7. I’m not buying anything but a hoody (second-hand) unless something can’t be mended. So far, this year, my clothing budget has been $25.00 and my closet is very lean as I no longer need work clothes.

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