10 ways to save on clothes

Woman trying do decide between two dressesTrying to ensure you and your brood are moderately well-turned out can really add up, money-wise. Plus, pesky children have the habit of growing, which means their clothes and shoes don't fit any more.

So how to keep clothing costs down, while not sacrificing sartorial standards? Here's our starter for 10 distilled from Mumsnet Talk (where there are vast quantities of pre-loved thrifty tips to rifle through).

  1. Resolve never to pay full-price for clothes (with the proviso that an outfit that's truly life-enhancing may well be worth breaking your resolution for). So shop in the sales, shop online with discount codes, shop on discount websites - think of discount shopping as your default shopping mode. Resist that little voice saying, "I might as well get it as it's in the sale" or you'll start spending on clothes you wouldn't have bought if they weren't discounted. Always, always a mistake.
  2. Ditch all thoughts of designer wear. Remember, most celebrities who wear designer clothes certainly don't pay full price for them. Adopt the same strategy yourself - what's TK Maxx for, after all?
  3. Shop ahead for next season, especially for your children. You'll often find amazing discounts on summer dresses at the start of winter, or on swimsuits in January. Buy them when they're cheap, but remember (for the children) to allow for growing room.
  4. Encourage cast-off clothes 'recycling' among family and friends by handing on your children's (and your own) unwanted items to others. Of course, no child - or adult - wants a wardrobe that's entirely stuffed with other people's cast-offs, but it's all in the mix, and every clothes collection benefits from a bit of vintage, as cast-offs shall henceforth be known.
  5. Kids at the top of primary school and in secondary school will spend a fortune on clothes if they get the chance. And shopping is fun, so of course they want to do it. But encourage responsible spending by making sure your children have to budget for themselves ("OK, so you can get the jeans for £50, but that means you'll have to do without any new tops, because you'll have used up all your money") or have to use some of their own money (birthday/Christmas/money they've earned for babysitting or other jobs) to pay for clothes.
  6. Think about buying cheaper brands than the ones you usually favour. Many of us feel as if we're letting our kids down if we downscale to a 'lesser' brand for shoes or clothes, but we're not. The quality is often just as good - and children, especially younger ones, grow out of clothes so quickly that longevity isn't always the top priority.
  7. Borrow - especially for yourself, and especially for special occasions. If you need a scarf or a wrap or a hat for a wedding, ask your friends before you splash out on a new item that could cost a lot and won't be worn once the event is over.
  8. Encourage older children to swap clothes with siblings and friends. Inter-family clothes swaps can be emotionally fraught, however, so set some ground rules (as in, you have to ask before you take and if you take, you also give).
  9. "My children are delighted with anything that is new. It doesn't have to be new with tags from a shop." 2cats2many
  10. Whether you're buying for yourself or your children, do a clothes clear-out-and-weeding session before you go shopping. Check what clothes you (or the kids) already have, and look carefully at what's missing. In this way, your shopping spree can be targeted and you'll be less likely to buy stuff you don't need.
  11. Be picky about what you spend on and what you buy cheap. School socks, pants, vests etc can all be bought from cheaper brands and in bulk if you can get a good deal - the kids won't care. Likewise, if you're shopping for yourself, spend money on the stuff that gets noticed - the jacket, the trousers - and buy cheaper when it comes to basic vest tops and T-shirts. Most supermarkets and high street chains have Fairtrade garments, so discount doesn't have to equal exploitation of clothing workers.


Disclaimer: Any content in our family money section is intended as general information only. For specific advice about your personal financial situation, get advice from qualified, independent, regulated professionals.

Last updated: about 3 years ago