Laid-off, working multiple jobs to make ends meet, or just really want something different but don’t have lots of money to spend as freely as you would like? You need to – and may already have – found less expensive alternatives when it comes to clothing needs that are comfortable, functional, well-fitting, and great looking.
If you have lost weight and are finding your clothes don’t fit well, alternations could be the route to go. Paying a seamstress to take in the clothes to fit will be more cost effective than buying new.
When the nail starts showing through the heel cap on your shoes or boots, take them in for repair and save yourself a substantial amount over buying new shoes or boots. The cobbler might also be able to fix the shoe whose heel came off or the broken zipper on your favorite boots, and even completely replace the sole on those shoes you just can’t do without.
Jeans with ragged bottoms or thread-bare knees are popular with the younger set, but for those of us who prefer not to dress shabby sheek, cut off the jeans above the knees and hem for summer wear. This approach also works for all casual wear pants.
Holes in socks can be repaired, but eventually, the fabric in the sock will become so bare, you will need to replace them. This is one item that you’ll want to buy new, but remember to recycle the old socks. Exclusive of nylon fabrics, socks make great rags. Even if you only use socks once in their recycle capacity, they are serving double duty. Old socks could also have a future as a sock puppet.
Sometimes, it’s a desire to not constantly be seen in the same clothes that makes us want to buy new clothing. Take your long winter coat for example. You’ve had the coat for years. Rather than discard/pass it on, you can recycle it for your own use. Through the skills of a good seamstress, that long winter coat could become a jacket-length coat. From minimally priced purchases at a local discount store, you can accent the coat with a different scarf, hat, or gloves. Or, drop the hint to friends or family that you would like a hat/scarf/glove set as a holiday or special occasion gift!
Dye a blouse to add new colors to your wardrobe. Convert a long sleeved shirt/blouse to short sleeved.
With few exceptions, recycling underwear is suitable only for rags. For example, if you have a bra you’ve only worn once, determined the fit just wasn’t for you, and cannot return it, then after washing it, give it a charity.
Have lots of t-shirts? Cut-up, those t-shirts could make a quilt top or rag rug. If you are not into crafts, check with your church or drop a free ad online or in the newspaper to give away the t-shirts.
If you are looking for different (not necessarily new) clothes, visit your local Salvation Army or other discount stores, like Soroptimist. Many times you can find lightly used, sometimes even new clothes that have been donated to the stores. You might also find some vintage-type clothing (or shoes), which is a current fad to wear.
Garage sales can provide a good source for clothing and shoes at dramatically low prices.
Watch for those “after” sales, like after Christmas, where stores are overstocked and they are selling products at reduced prices. Shopping online can also be an option; look for no shipping costs, or shipping at no cost or reduced rate based on how much you purchase. You may even find great bargains at this year’s after Christmas sales (or other special sales events) to purchase for next year’s Christmas, birthday, or other special events.
Be a smart buyer. Rather than buying the cheapest clothes, which may be lacking in quality, look for good quality clothes at an affordable price. Look at the label. Is it washable so you won’t have to deal with dry cleaning bills? Is it machine or hand washable? You may not have the time or desire to have to hand wash clothes. Are the seams stitched well? Check the snaps, buttons, and zippers to see if they are sewn on well and function properly, e.g., will the snap stay closed as it should when tugged slightly? Feel the seams; are they scratchy? Nothing is more annoying than a garment whose shoulder, side, or waist seams irritate the skin. Some stores sell popular brand names at discount prices because of minor defects. Look for defects to ensure whatever placed the clothes into the defect category is something you don’t mind being seen in.