You know that moment when you open your closet, look through your clothes and realize you have nothing to wear? (I feel like you do, otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this article.)
It’s not a good feeling, especially when you’re coming up on the spendiest holiday season of the year. Even with Thanksgiving and the holidays coming up, you still need to update your wardrobe - you just need to do it without breaking your budget.
Luckily, I’ve been there, and managed to update my fall wardrobe while still having money for Thanksgiving, the holidays and a few get-me-through-exams lattes along the way. Here are 10 ways you can get your fall wardrobe feeling fresh and looking great without draining your bank account.
Wait Until Midseason
If you’re reading this now, you’re right on track to take advantage of some of the best promos of the season. In late October and early November, stores are in the dead zone between back to school and Black Friday, so they likely aren’t seeing as much traffic in-store. To help bump up their sales, they usually run some pretty great promos to get people to spend money in between those two prime shopping seasons. Keep your eyes on your favorite stores to check out what they’re offering you for shopping before Black Friday - you’ll find some great deals.
Focus on Accessories
If you’re just looking for a wardrobe update to freshen up your style, and you don’t really need to replace any major pieces of clothing, focus on accessories instead of full outfits. They’re lower cost, and can totally change up your style without spending hundreds.
As a big bonus, fall is the best season for accessories. There are so many great cold weather accessories that you’d never be able to rock in summer, and anything you buy for fall will last you well through the winter too.
Thrift it Up
Check out traditional thrift stores and consignment shops. If you’re wondering what the difference is, thrift stores usually run on donations, while consignment shops offer the original owner a percentage of the sale. For you, that means consignment stores usually have slightly pricier - and sometimes higher quality - stuff. Plan your shopping trips accordingly!
You can also check out whether there are any Facebook buy and sell groups that have good stuff in your area. It’s easy to see which of your friends are in a group before diving in - you can hit them up to ask if it’s worth the extra clutter on your newsfeed.
Host a Clothing Swap
If you’re ready to update your fall wardrobe, you probably have clothing that you’re just sick of, or never wear anymore. That doesn’t mean those pieces couldn’t be great in the right hands!
Invite a group of your friends over for a BYOB and BYOC night: bring your own beverages and bring your old clothes. If everyone brings stuff that they have no interest in anymore, you might stumble on your new favorite sweater, or the perfect dress for Christmas parties, for free. Once the night is over, anything unclaimed can be passed on to your local thrift store, and everyone will leave with some new-to-them clothing.
Shop with a List
As soon as you step into a store, you’re bombarded by perfectly put together fall ~looks~. It can be ultra-tempting to buy a whole outfit right away, but if you were only there for one new plaid shirt? Yikes. Bye bye, budget.
In order to stick to the plan, the first step is having a plan. Take a look through your closet, and pay attention to what you keep wishing you had - if you can never find mittens when you need them, or if you only have one t-shirt with no visible holes in it, those should be on your list.
On the other hand, if you have 10 plaid shirts already? You can go into your shopping expedition fully aware that you really don’t need another one.
Head to the Back of the Store
Fancy new arrivals are always at the front of the store, and they’re always full price. Trust me on this one, I worked in retail for a long time.
If good deals are what you’re after, head straight to the back of the store. That’s where the sales racks are hidden, and where you’ll find the best savings on brand-new duds. Head there first armed with your list, and only venture back to the front of the store if you seriously can’t find anything good on sale.
Use Online Coupons and Rebates
If you know you love a particular store, or they always have stuff that suits your style, check out their website and social media before making a purchase. Sometimes they’ll hook you up with a coupon for joining their email list, or have promos that are only available to fans on their social channels.
Optimize Your Online Shopping
If you’re less of an in-store person, you can take advantage of online-only shopping strategies that can offer you great savings.
Try eBates, an online tool that gives you cash-back at the stores you were going to buy from anyways. They’ve got a huge range of top brands, and their cash-back offers can range from 1% to 12%, so it’s always worth checking before you commit to an order.
Another way to specifically save on online orders? Make sure to pay attention to shipping costs, and don’t buy more just to get free shipping! Instead, try to bundle a few necessary purchases together to hit that sweet, sweet free shipping amount, or ask around - maybe your roommates or friends have stuff they’ve been meaning to get from that store and will split your order.
Pay Attention to Cost-Per-Wear
There are some items - like jackets - that might make sense to spend a bit more on, because you’re going to wear them every day (and if you live in a cold weather climate, you have even more reason to spend on a great jacket. New England winters are no joke!) If you buy a jacket for $100, and you wear it 100 times, that’s only $1 per use.
On the other hand, $100 for that trendy sweater might not be as good of a deal, because you’ll probably only wear it once or twice a month.
Watch Out for High-Maintenance Items
If you’re in school or on a budget, here’s a good rule of thumb: avoid high-maintenance clothing. And no, this isn’t style advice! Your clothes can look as high maintenance as you’d like, but if it can’t be washed in your regular old washing machine? Avoid, avoid, avoid. These pieces tend to cost more upfront, they cost more money to clean, and you’ll probably wear them less to avoid having to clean them as often.