Abundant Optimism

Helping people regain and keep an optimistic outlook in challenging circumstances and improve their creativity, mind, and skills.

Dress Well Frugally

By Tamara Martfeld

If one is not careful, clothes can use a lot of money. New clothes cost a significant amount in the first place, then many become out of style or wear out prematurely. There are many ways one can save money on clothes.

First of all, take a good inventory of what is in your clothing collection. Donate anything wearable that you do not like and know you will never wear. With the items to be donated, consider why this item is in your collection. Knowing why you purchased an item you now do not like will help you not make the same mistake again. You are forgiven for anything there which was given to you. Toss or turn into rags anything which is no longer wearable. I am not referring to comfortable rags which you wear around the house or for yard work in this case. If you have clothes which do not fit, get them out of your closet. If you know you might wear them again due to weight changes, go ahead and keep them, but not in your closet.

With whatever is left, make sure each item needing another item for wearing matches something. For example, if you have a shirt, do you have a skirt or pants which will go with it? If nothing goes with it, decide if you really want to keep it. If you do, you need to purchase something which will go with it. If not, get rid of it. Look for any other holes such as this which are in your collection.

There are many articles out there which will give you ideas of what are the basic needs for a wardrobe. Mixing and matching items can give you a lot of outfits. I suggest looking for these articles and find one which addresses the type of clothing you have or the style in which you like to dress. Use the guidelines to identify what you need to purchase.

Next go shopping to fill the holes. This is where many people make mistakes. Make sure whatever you buy is a classic style, can be washed by you (stay away from “dry clean only” as much as possible), and is well-made. The classic style will enable the item to be worn for many years. Washing at home saves dry cleaning cost. Being well-made will ensure it will last a long time. Following these guidelines will cost a little more up front, however, they will save you money in the long run. I have some items in my wardrobe which are 30 years old which can still be worn to the office.

As you shop, consider where you will wear the item. If you have no place to wear it, don’t buy it. If it is for a single occasion, consider if there is something already in your collection which will work instead of purchasing the item. Also consider the future. If the item is a fad, will you still be brave and wear it when the fad fades?

As you shop, remember what is in your collection. Ideally, any new item should fill one of the holes identified earlier and match at least two existing items. If you are building a new wardrobe, pick a color scheme or two so that everything will match. One way to make sure there are at least two items to match new purchases is to have some basic colors which will go with almost everything such as black, brown, white, or navy blue. Also, you do not need to purchase new items. Thrift stores and garage sales frequently have good merchandise.

Another way to save money is to sew your own clothes. The sales personnel in fabric shops can help you find easy patterns and good material. They can also let you know where to find a sewing class if you need one. It is also helpful to know how to mend your own clothes.

Once you have the clothes, you want to take care of them to make them last. Following washing instructions is a good start. If you have dry clean only items, take them to the dry cleaners. Yes, there are a few items which you may need which can only be dry cleaned. If you have a T-shirt style shirt (anything which does not button all the way down), turn it inside-out before washing. As clothes wash and dry, they rub together. By turning an item inside-out, the rubbing is on the inside of the item and the outside looks good for a longer time. Close any zippers to prevent the zipper from snagging on something else and to prevent the zipper from being destroyed in the wash.

To reduce the damage washing and drying can do on my clothes, I wash everything washable in cold water. Shirts, skirts, and pants are dried for 10 minutes, then removed and hung to finish drying. I run them for 10 minutes to reduce the wrinkles and frequently do not have to iron later.

By following these simple steps, you can significantly reduce your spending on clothing and still be well-dressed for all occasions.