A little while ago I reached out to Bek of Colourful Curves to write me this post. Bek is on a tight income, is raising children and still manages pretty killer wardrobe. She’s a great example of someone building a great wardrobe on a budget. I asked her to share some tips with you in the lead up to the Budget Fashionista eWorkbook being available. Stay up to date by subscribing to the newsletter, subscribers will get first dibs. But without further ado, and this was plenty, I’m handing it over to Bek… *insert wild cheers from the crowd*
I appreciate that everyone’s circumstances, priorities and income are different so I’m just sharing what works for me and I hope you find something helpful. No judgement here. Before you have the money to buy clothes you need to have your budget sorted. This helps stop you from spending money that is earmarked for other stuff like rent or bills. I won’t go into that here but you’re welcome to check out my series on putting together a simple budget and saving money over at KiKi and Tea.
Now you’re ready to proceed, budget in mind, to building that wardrobe of yours. Here are my top tips on saving money on clothes:
Put money aside each week for clothes.
This can be a small or large amount, depending on your income. I put $5-10 aside each week. This is my basic clothes budget. Some weeks I will scrimp in other areas like groceries so I can spend more on clothes. I don’t own a credit card, so I only spend what I have. Sometimes I use the money to buy something a bit out of my normal price range (like a $50 dress).
Go Op Shopping regularly.
The trick with op shopping is to go regularly and often, and spend time looking through everything. Pick a local store with a decent plus size section and become a regular visitor. If you’re over a size 22 (like me) I do realise that the pickings are slim but you never know when you’ll find a treasure. Go with low expectations and lots of patience.
Buy on Sale.
Stores like Autograph, City Chic and Asos Curve regularly discount their clothing. Autograph are fantastic for it (I can pick up items for $10-20 during a sale). Sign up to their store emails and you’ll be notified of sales (if the email isn’t about a sale, quickly delete it so you’re not tempted).
Use Discount Codes.
Check store emails for discount codes, and always google online for a code before buying something online.
Don’t Buy Clothes.
Just because something is on sale, doesn’t mean you need to buy it. If you have four red tops already, you don’t need another one. It may be a cute jacket, but you have 8 cute jackets in your wardrobe and have only worn 2 of them. Just because something fits doesn’t mean you need it.
Organise and Cull Your Wardrobe.
Every six months, weed out stuff in your wardrobe. If you didn’t wear that cardigan at all in the cold months, get rid of it. Those shoes weren’t as comfy as you expected? Get rid of them. I do this when I switch from summer to winter clothes and vice versa. Sort your clothes and store like things together. This way you know what you have, and it stops you buying multiples (like another pair of jeans when you already have four pairs). Sell your unwanted clothes, and use the money for your clothes budget win/win!
Shop at Cheaper Clothes Shops.
Check out places like Big W, Target and Kmart. In my opinion Big W has the best plus size range, but if you’re more in the 18-20 size range the other places have nice stuff. They’re good for shoes, bags and accessories too.
You may have noticed that I didn’t address the ethical clothing issue. I didn’t do this, because while I’m all for ethically sourced/made clothing, I know of no clothing like that available in my size. It is not something I can participate in. If you can, that’s great!
Search for plus size clothes on eBay, there are always people selling their stuff and bargains to be found. Try searching by brand and type. You can sell your own clothes on here too (just make sure you correctly apply postage costs). If you have a bunch of low-priced similar items, try selling them as a lot.
Learn to Mend and Sew.
Obviously this isn’t for everyone, but it’s worthwhile learning to sew buttons and fix rips to keep your clothes lasting longer (which saves money of course). Sewing can be expensive but check out the op shops. They have material and sewing supplies. I want to learn to sew a skirt and I currently have 3 vintage floral bed sheets ready to sew. They cost $2 each.
Change Your Attitude.
There is nothing wrong with having a limited wardrobe, and wearing the same outfit more than once a week. Cheap and cheerful can be a way of life. Use accessories like jewellery and scarves to cheaply change-up an outfit. Op shop clothes and clothes passed on to you by your friends are great too!
Also, I didn’t suggest buying higher quality clothing that may last longer. This is a great tip, but at my level of income, saving up to spend $50 on a t-shirt just isn’t value for money for me. But if you have more income to work with, and are able to fit into stores that have quality clothing, great! That tip may work for you. I do like buying the occasional dress from Domino Dollhouse with my savings, and I’ve also bought from Cult of California, but it’s not a regular shopping practice for me.
I’d love to hear about your experiences with saving money and clothes!
How do you manage it?
///images sourced from Bek’s blog///
Hi! I’m Melissa Walker Horn. Around here, they call me Suger. I’m the Chief Blogger and doer of all the things here at Suger Coat It. Blogging since 1901; I love a casual ootd, taking photos, and writing about things that irk or inspire me. I love wine and cheese, long days at the beach and spending time with my family. I make stuff for the internet over at Chalkboard Digital. You know, living the sweet life.
I do the “buy pricier clothes because they’ll last longer” tip, particularly with shoes and basics. I wear my shoes HARD and when I bought cheap shoes in Melbourne they lasted about 2 months before I had to throw them out. Not exactly cost effective.
I also buy expensive brands for jeans, cardigans, coats and jackets. I have Cue pants, skirts and jackets I’ve had for 5-8 years and I’m still wearing them.
But it’s important to mix it up with cheaper brands where you can. I’ll often mix Country Road, Cue and Kmart in the one outfit, and I love Kmart for bags and Diva or Lovisa for accessories.
I also suggest shopping out of season. I bought a stunning green trench coat from David Lawrence last year by shopping at the outlet in Summer. I paid about $100 for it and it’s a $500 coat. I love sales and outlets!
Shopping out of season is one of my favourite tricks too. Quality items for a fraction of the cost just because someone says they’re old stock! Eeeek. Most people don’t even know what old stock looks like. And classic is classic. Great tips Tamsin.
I am budget driven too. I shop second hand or on sale pretty much entirely. Like Bek, I too am concerned about ethical choices but do not have the budget to base my purchases on this concern. I too am worried about the environmental costs of clothing and agree with Bek about changing attitudes. Now, I don’t want you to think I am writing this as a blatant advert, I just want to put it out there. These reasons (ethical, environmental and financial) formed a large part of my inspiration to start A Plus Market. Shopping second hand not only helps the purse strings but minimises the ethical and environmental costs too.
Well done Bek and Melissa on an interesting and informative post!
Thank you Erin and I think you’re so right. When we can recycle our own clothes as well as the unwanted items of others it just reduces all those impacts. Thanks for sharing. I’ll let the plug slide this time. Haha.
This post is so relevant to me right now it’s spooky! Haha.
I’m needing to do a HUGE wardrobe cleanout, and I’m wanting new items but can’t afford them! I never thought about putting money aside specifically for clothes, I just have a general ‘savings’ account. Thanks for this, I need a kick in the bum to get to sorting out my wardrobe haha 🙂
Good luck with that wardrobe clean out! You’ll feel a million bucks once you work out what you have and where to go from there.
My biggest tip is ‘know your style but don’t be afraid to look for it in unexpected places’. Although I’m not plus size, my rockabilly fashion niche means that a lot of clothing is only available from specialty stores and isn’t exactly cheap. However ‘regular’ stores can sometimes have some great surprises in store! Look around in cheaper places like Big W, Kmart, Valleygirl etc and you’ll be surprised to find some nice pieces for a lot less. Sure I’ll probably still end up spending at least $100 on event and special occasion dresses but for casual, day-to-day spring/summer clothes these stores can sometimes offer more than you think.
It’s so important to keep your eyes peeled for something that will fit your personal style no matter where you are. Great tip.
Thanks for having me Melissa! I’m looking forward to reading all the comments.
You’re so welcome Bek! Thanks for a great post.
Great tips! I am worried about the ethical clothing issue too, but haven’t been addressing it because I can’t afford to shop at the more expensive places.I hadn’t even got to the point of realising there’s not much in the way of plus-size ethical clothing lines! If anyone hears of any, shout it out!
I’ve been looking into a few brands that openly discuss their manufacturing policy or have signed the accord put in place after the Rana Plaza disaster and plan to bring a list forward sometime soon. Sure a lot of them are self regulated but like I say when you know better, you do better and lord help them if they are ‘faking’ a fairness polcy. That’s got to be bad karma, right?
Great Post – I’m a big fan of getting items (classical or staples) on clearance sales. If you get to know labels, you can usually pick what style and size is right.
I also find that international websites have clearance sales for items coming into season here, so there are good bargains. I buy a couple of times a year from the sales at Evans, for example, as they have shoes and clothes and reasonable post (around 10GBP no matter how much you order). US sites tend to have cheaper clothes, but use couriers instead of mail, and charge postage by weight, driving up the $.
Yes I love that overseas sales line up with our in-season items. Good tip!
I love this Evans tip! I have some of their shoes and they are the best for daily wear etc. I’ll be keeping an eye out for these sales you mentioned and go nuts. 😉
Love Bek’s colourful style, beautiful and inspiring woman x
Thanks Wendygai, that’s a lovely thing to say. 🙂
Absolutely is Wendy!