Frugalize Your Closet
Taking a frugal approach to clothing can save you hundreds to thousands of bucks each year. And you don’t have to look like a ragamuffin! By carefully combing the thrift racks and seeking out deals on new stuff, you’ll take great joy in outfitting yourself for a fraction of the cost.
Frugal Wife’s Quick Guide to a Frugal Wardrobe:
Buy used whenever humanly possible.
Shop smart when you must buy new.
Wear things for a long time. Buy clothes that’ll last and don’t plan on throwing clothes away every year. Repair and sew instead of tossing.
Own less. Part of frugalizing is simplifying and being satisfied with fewer clothes.
How you launder matters.
Don’t rush to the wash–try to wear things at least twice before washing.
Avoid the dry cleaners: expensive and chemical-y. Some things have to be dry cleaned, but I always try to spot clean with a damp rag if possible.
Wash nicer pieces inside out, in cold water, on the gentle cycle.
Hang clothes to air dry.
I do this in our basement because we live in a pretty cold climate that precludes outdoor drying most months of the year. Just get a few drying racks and hang clotheslines from your rafters.
Only use the dryer for towels, sheets, socks and the like. Not only is it better for your energy bill, it makes clothes last longer. Dryers are harsh!
Caring for your clothes thoughtfully will make them last for years.
A note on shoes:
If you can’t find them used, Frugal Husband and I recommend trying shoes on in the store and then buying online. Frankly, it’s just cheaper that way.
Save your soles: don’t walk outside in dress shoes. Wear walkin’ shoes and change when you arrive at your destination. When’s the last time your shoes wore out from the top down? Exactly.
Hand-me-downs aren’t just for kids! Swap with friends and take whatever people will give you for free.
I pulled my winter coat (100% down-filled, Land’s End, only 1 size too big for me) out of the trash. It was on top of a box of discarded household supplies: a $300 coat tossed to the curb because of a slight zipper problem! I took it to a laundromat (I learned you can’t wash down in a home washing machine) and wore it every day this winter. And received compliments.
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Verry late to this, but you can absolutely wash (and dry) down in a machine! I’ve done it for years with my down comforter, pillows, and coats to no detriment.
Good to know! Funny enough, I had a conversation with a girlfriend about this very thing today and she too said you can just wash down in the machine with regular detergent. Last year I bought special “down wash” that’s not supposed to be used in a home machine, but which is supposed to preserve the down better. I think I’ll just throw it in the washer this year! Thanks for the advice :)!
I’m also late to this, but you can definitely wash down your self. The tricky part is making sure you get it completely dry including all the filing. Even slightly wet down is bad news and will smell
Thanks for sharing!
Just ran across this thread. I’ve been washing my husband’s down jackets myself for years. I throw some tennis balls in the dryer with them to help fluff.
I just found your site and have been enjoying looking thru all the articles, I am especially interested in thrifting clothes. I recently found a consignment store to try to make a little money on clothes that no longer suit me and although it seems tricky to find things I like I did find a black short sleeve sweater on the thrift stores sale rack for $5. I already wore it and I like it a lot. I am also trying to pare down my clothing passively, by wearing items out and then if i do buy something new I am doing the ” one in one out rule”. I wanted to add that dry clean items I wash in my washer at home. Just get a delicates bag or a really thin old pillowcase and put it inside, wash on gentle in cold water and air dry. then you can either fluff in dryer on cool or just warm setting or you can iron it. I have never had a problem, and ive washed a wool coat, cashmere sweaters, silk blouses, bra, panties, really everything.
Thanks so much for reading Frugalwoods! I’m so glad you found us :). Thrifting is a great approach to clothes shopping–kudos to you for trying it out! It can take time to find good pieces, but the prices are so incredibly low as compared to new clothes.
I tend to wash dry-clean only stuff on the delicates cycle as well, though I’ve never tried the bag method. Thanks for sharing, I’ll have to give it a whirl!
Buy new: underwear!!! Always. Last pack I bought was $ 4.00 for eight pairs at Big Lots.
Shoes: some are okay very gently used but others must be new. I buy on sale and do well with DSW rewards coupons or Amazon.
Bags: I just splurged and bought a very nice leather bag that will last forever and is a classic yet fashionable bag. HOWEVER, I bought it on sale from a discount house, used coupons and EBATES so my $300.00 retail purse cost less than $75.00. With good care, this bag should last 10 years or more.
I am a thrift shopper from way back when thrifting wasn’t cool. I started thrifting back in the late 60’s. I also do consignment shops.I trade with a friend. I shop very little brick and mortar retail except for Target up on occasion. I LOATHE SHOPPING MALLS! ALWAYS HAVE AND ALWAYS WILL! MY IDEA OF HELL IS BEING TRAPPED IN A MALL WITH LOUD MUSIC, OBNOXIOUS TEENS (AND SNAKES! I HATE SNAKES!)
Right on! Your advice is perfectly in line with how I feel too. And, couldn’t agree with you more about the hatred for shopping malls. I haven’t been in one in years, but I dread the day when I’ll have to go…
I must say, Frugal Hound is the most fashionista hound around ! Has she thought of a career as a supermodel?
Why thank you! She does look pretty good in my clothes and jewelry :). There actually was a high fashion campaign a few years ago (I don’t remember which designer) that used greyhounds as their models for all their photos. It was hilarious and adorable!
You know, Lands’ End has a lifetime guarantee on their clothes. You could send the coat back for a repair and if they can’t or won’t replace the zipper, they might send you a new coat. Would you feel justified doing that, since the coat is a trash find? Plus since I am guessing your coat is a few seasons old, you might get an upgrade.
Hmm, that is a great point. I’m not sure I would feel OK doing that since I didn’t pay for the coat initially. But, it’s great to keep that in mind for future purchases!
I thrift for clothes but immediately put purchases in the dryer to hopefully kill any bedbugs. Don’t you worry about getting them, especially since you buy furniture second hand? Love the blog so far! We had a 71% savings rate the last two years 🙂
I have THE answer to not spending on clothes – have a body shape that designers don’t believe exists…and loathe clothes shopping because of this. Alas, all these styles that will never fit me, no matter what size I am or they are, have been in the thrift shops for over 15 years. I have to make my own (or get DH to make them for me).
There are some things I will buy new though – underwear, socks, and shoes. Fortunately I can get underpants that fit! Socks and shoes I buy new as (a) I’m not keen on getting fungal foot infections and (b) the kinds of shoes I tend to buy (e.g. steel capped, and ‘running’ shoes) are not ones that one regularly finds in thrift shops.
I find that I can try on two of the ‘same’ item and, as construction of the piece is not 100% the same from one piece to another (these things are still sewn by real people, after all) one can fit and the other not. Hence, the only things I’m prepared to buy without trying that particular item on first, are underpants and socks…and I’ve had to take some underwear back to a store because when I opened the package I found that it was decidedly not the same size as the rest (possibly the wrong size tag was attached).
I also don’t tend to try in store but buy on-line because I figure that it would be a bit rude of me to expect someone else to pay for stock, staff, and rent on a bricks and mortar store so that I can have the convenience of trying it on, if I have no intention of buying from them. It’s one thing to not buy because it doesn’t fit / it’s the wrong colour / the shop ‘next door’ has an equivalent for less / staff are rude / the store has an on-line price that is cheaper, but to actively intend to *not* support them in return for their support of me (particularly if it’s not a chain store where getting it from one outlet is the same as another of their outlets) is something I am loathe to do.
I live in an apartment and have a really, really tight budget. The washer and dryer here are each $2.50 so I decided I was going to try cutting my laundry cost in half by using drying racks. I discovered that you can dry anything on a rack – even the items you mention putting in the dryer, like jeans and towels. You just have to have a spot where you can leave the racks up for a few days. The lighter items will be dry in 24 hours. And if you’re not planning to have guests over in the next few days, who cares if there’s a drying rack up in the living room for the jeans and towels?
I’m plus sized, and I sew a lot of my clothes. While I wear sweatshirts and jeans through most of the colder months, most of my sweatshirts and jeans are items I’ve had for years. When the weather gets warmer, I change to my shorts and T-shirts. I haven’t actually bought any new T-shirts and shorts in years. I have a heavy winter coat I got the first winter we were married, 21 years ago, and it’s still in good shape although I had to fix the button holes for the buttons that keep the hood on, but that’s minor. When it’s not cold I keep it in my craft room closet so it’s not taking up room in the closet where my regular clothes are. My husband drives a school bus, and he tends to come home covered in grime, so he wears Henley knit shirts, sweatshirts, and jeans to work. I buy everything but underwear and his work shoes at Goodwill.
“I recommend trying shoes on in the store and then buying online.” – Please consider not doing things anymore. Depending on the store chain, the employee might be losing a tiny commission because you did not buy anything there. Better to not go at all and not waste their time. Or they might be required to push a loyalty program/card on you. Yes, those are annoying (and designed to make you spend more!), but the employees often have to meet a quota/goal. You leave and then a manager nags them about why you left without buying anything, why another customer did not sign up. I’ve worked at stores like that.
I prefer to buy one or two pairs of shoes a year, then find similar ones online. Also, if you know someone whose shoes you like, ask if you can try on a couple of pairs. Get a feel for how small or big they are on your feet. My mother’s shoes tend to be just a bit too small for me, so I find similar ones online and order the next size up.