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Look Great While Shopping Less

shopping less to save money

I’ve come to the realization that I have and probably always have had too many clothes. Being gone for almost a month this summer with only one carry on size suitcase showed me that I really don’t need that much. I don’t want to become a minimalist, but I have made an effort to pare down my wardrobe. Sure I didn’t have to bring work clothes or seasonal items on my summer vacation, but the logic applies no matter what type of clothing you need from day to day. Here is how you can look great while shopping less.

Don’t Buy Trendy Clothes

Yes, I probably am a fuddy duddy when it comes to the latest styles, but you can still look fashionable without having to buy a new wardrobe every season. Stick to solids that mix and match. That way, you can conceivably wear the same pair of pants twice in one week with a different shirt and no one knows it’s not a different outfit. If you want to stand out, add an accessory instead of a crazy pattern that you’ll be tired of in a few months.

I also try to avoid styles that just don’t have a chance of sticking around. One trend I’ve seen for the past few months are the pants that have tapered ankles with a baggy crotch. Back in the 80’s, we called them MC Hammer pants. I’m not sure what name they go by now, but I am sure they won’t be around for long. Unless you want to save them to wear again in 2045, just buy classic styles and cuts of clothing that won’t go out of fashion.

Wear Clothes More Than Once Before Washing

No, this rule does not apply to people who get filthy or are exposed to contagious pathogens every day, but many of us aren’t out working in the trenches. If you work at a day job, make sure to hang your clothes up as soon as you get home. Sure it’s easier to throw them in the laundry hamper, but honestly, most items can be worn more than once before needing a wash. By not sending them through the spin cycle as often, clothes last longer and don’t fade or pile as fast.

Another tip is to avoid letting nicer clothes spend an entire cycle in the dryer. Let clothes dry long enough to avoid wrinkles, then hang them up.

Buy Nicer Clothes

For a long time, I believed that buying cheaper clothes was the way to go. I still have no problem picking up work out clothes or casual items that are cheap, but for work clothes or outerwear, I’ve come to realize that buying quality saves over the long run. Instead of having to replace items after a few months of wear, nicer clothes may last several years before wearing out which means actually saving money by shopping less.

That doesn’t mean you have to pay full price. When I bought work pants last month, I bought expensive, quality brands, but I waited for a sale and used an extra 25% off coupon. You can also find good used clothes if you’re patient enough. We bought our daughter’s ski clothes for this season at a higher end consignment store after looking for several months. We paid $40 for a really nice, new looking, Columbia ski parka and pants. Since this won’t be worn every day, there is a good chance that I’ll be able to sell the set for about that much when she outgrows it.

Don’t Buy Clothes You Don’t Love Because They Are on Sale

How many times have you bought something because it was a great deal only to find that you never wear it because it isn’t the right fit, color, or style that suits you best? I’ve been there. Lime green blouse, I’m talking to you!

Buying sale clothes that fit and are your style is great. Buying clothes just because they are on sale is like throwing money out the window. Ask yourself if you would wear this if price was not an issue. If the answer is no, then leave the bargain bin for someone else.

Care Less About What People Think

I think this is probably the biggest reason people have too many clothes. We all like to look nice and we convince ourselves that we’ll be a better, smarter, more productive version of ourselves with new clothes. I think there is a bit of truth here. The right outfit can certainly add confidence. First impressions are also very important. I’d never go to a job interview wearing faded clothes with holes in them, but odds are, you own enough items of clothing to look put together.

While there are likely some people in your life who will make fun of you for avoiding clothes shopping, those are probably the ones who also love to sit and swap stories about how being broke or in debt is normal. There are tons of people who could care less what you wear as long as it’s clean and decent. Spend time among them, and you’ll be ahead of the game.

Obviously, we all have to shop at one point or another, but there are ways to look great without having to buy new clothes all the time. Shopping less is a proven way to have more money, and I’ve learned that I’d rather keep as much money as possible for things that are more important than a new outfit.

Do you spend too much on clothes? What is your biggest weakness when it comes to shopping?


About Kim Parr

Kim Parr is a private practice optometrist, freelance writer, and personal financial blogger. You can follow her journey to 20/20 financial vision at Eyes on the Dollar.


  1. As I get older I worry less and less of what others think of my outfits. The tags on my clothing dont make me. I make me.

  2. We don’t really spend that much on clothing, we buy secondhand in a lot of cases. Working from home helps helps keep the spending down a lot as well. That being said, I’ve been surprised to see how expensive clothes can be now that I have to replace my wardrobe. That, or maybe I’ve become cheaper. πŸ˜‰ I also can’t believe MC Hammer pants are trying to make a come back.

  3. I’m not much of a shopper and being a freelancer makes it easier to not spend money on clothes, thankfully! Every once in awhile I get the urge to buy something new, but I tend to stick to discount stores like Target and Kohl’s.

  4. One thing I found when I did a recent closet cleanout was that I had wasted a lot of money on clothes that “almost” fit or “barely” fit. No more. Unless clothes actually fit the body I have, I’m not buying them.

    • Buying or keeping clothes thinking you’ll get to a point where they fit is depressing. I’ve done my share of that over the years, and it’s best to just buy what fits.

  5. I used to spend too much on clothes because I avoided discount stores as I thought it took too much time to sift through the racks. Then I realized that my money was definitely worth my time and I embraced stores like TJ Maxx and Marshalls. Now I can’t remember the last time I paid full price for any clothing item. Plus the clothes from those stores are well-made which make them last longer than clothes from a Wal-Mart or Target.

    • I love stores like TJ Maxx as well, but you do have to get the good brands. Some of the cheap stuff there is poorly made.

  6. Like you, I’ve realized I need to only pick up more classic styles. Not that I shop much, but when I was scouting for some FinCon items, that was the rule. Which was tough because apparently buckles are back in. Yay. Happily, haven’t seen the MC Hammer pants. I might fall over laughing or in disgust.

  7. From someone who is absolutely terrible at packing (you should have seen my luggage for our week-long Hawaii trip…learned some packing lessons after that one haha) I am truly impressed at this -> “Being gone for almost a month this summer with only one carry on size suitcase showed me that I really don’t need that much.”

    My allergies make it difficult to take advantage of some of the money-saving things people do when it comes to clothes. While I do sometimes wear things twice, I typically try to wash my clothes every day. We have cats and they like to sit on my lap sometime and in general I just get some of their hair dander on my clothes. It’s best to wash them each day. Also, besides Winter time it’s best practice to not wear your clothes more than one day if you are outside at all. Allergens will stick to your clothes. But for people who don’t have these struggles, definitely wear clothes more than once!

    • I am so lucky not to have allergies, but if I work in the clinic with all sick people coming it, I always wash clothes every day.

  8. I remember MC Hammer pants and they weren’t very flattering the first go-round. I have seen them in the stores again and I’m glad I’m “too old” for that trend! LOL! I like to buy high-quality classic work clothes that, if well-cared for, can last for years. I am above average height, so many of my suits, in particular, need some tailoring but it’s worth it. I do buy a few trendy pieces but those are the clothes that I buy on sale. And yes, buying just because it’s heavily discounted, is rarely a good idea.

    • I’m also glad I am too old for most “trends.” I feel I already lived through many of them already and I can’t go back.

  9. I used to spend way too much money on clothing. Now, it’s probably the opposite. I should probably buy some things haha! πŸ™‚

  10. I have totally fallen into the “buy stuff because it is on sale” trap. Too many times. Lately, I have been doing a bit of a wardrobe purge – getting rid of anything that doesn’t make me feel awesome when I put it on. I’ve got a big box in my closet, so if I put it on and think “eh” it can immediately be thrown into my donate box. I realized that I would rather have 10 outfits that I love than 40 that are ‘eh’.

    • That is so true. I tend to wear the things I love over and over while the rest sits in the closet. Might as well get rid of things you don’t love.

  11. There was a time in my life when I spent WAY too much on clothes, but not anymore. The main way I get by with spending less is to buy basic, multi-functional pieces. It really helps to cut down on clothing expenditures.

  12. I’m not much of a shopper for clothes these days. Mostly because working from home means I have a jeans-and-t-shirt lifestyle but, I do like classic, well made clothes, too. Not buying them though, is easy because I have nowhere to wear them anymore!

    When I did work corporate, I stuck to a basic ‘uniform’ of pants, tops and cardigans. Sure, it was boring but I always figured I was there to work not to model the latest fashions. πŸ™‚

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