Shopping For Clothes Need Not Be A Budget Breaker

For some people, shopping for clothes is a necessary evil, tolerated only to the point that their attire not draw unwanted attention in the workplace or social gatherings. For others, being draped in a perfectly coordinated ensemble is an essential to civilised life. The one thing that people at these two extremes have in common is that most of them spend more than they would prefer to keep their wardrobe up to the standards they have set for themselves.

It would be equally ludicrous (and frankly, equally hypocritical) to criticise either for their tastes in garments, since both are expressions of their individual tastes. Rather than cajole or praise either, we will offer a few suggestions as to how each can fulfill their wardrobe requirements, while spending as little as possible in the process.

When to Buy

Each season, clothing stores bring out the line of clothes that their buyers predict will sell most readily. The styles can range from the undistinguishable to the downright bizarre, depending greatly upon the latest offerings of designers and manufacturers. The best time to buy clothes is actually near the end of the season in which they will be worn, as the various merchants, terrified of being stuck with unsellable inventory in the face of the next year’s lines, will often deeply discount selective samples or even entire lines as the season draws to an end.

What to Buy

The self-described discriminating shopper knows that fashion is a fickle mistress, and that the creators of haute couture appear, for all practical purposes, to strive to outdo each other, rather that please their customers. Fortunately for them, there are enough devotees to high fashion that virtually anything a famous designer produces will sell briskly.

Then, there are the rest of us. Lacking interest in being draped in the latest trend, most people seek out clothing that is serviceable, and that will remain acceptable in their social circles for longer than a few months. For such shoppers, classic looks are always a good bet. They don’t stand out in a crowd, but neither are they likely to draw much criticism for their fashion sense (or lack thereof).

Where to Buy

Fortunately for these people, classic designs are almost constantly available at discount, often from retailers who specialise in discounted, brand name clothing. And despite what one might think, there are even outlet stores that offer discounted high fashion items. Given the plethora of discount stores in the UK, marketing everything you could imagine and then some, it would be impossible to provide a comprehensive list in an article of this length, but by researching online, you can likely find an outlet relatively nearby that offers exactly what you are looking for.

The best buys are generally found in the stores for whom unsold inventory has less impact upon their bottom line. These are typically larger stores, often part of a national or international chain. This type of store will often tend to begin marking down items long before the season ends, so as to make room for and begin aggressively promoting the next season’s offerings. Some chain stores begin marking down summer clothing lines in July or early August, and start bringing out spring lines at the end of February. The frugal shopper will grab up bargains in the latter half of the season, while the more impulsive shopper will hit the racks as soon as a new line is put on display.

The price tag isn’t always the final word…

For some reason, dwellers in many developed countries have an innate aversion to negotiating the price of consumer goods. Ironically, this applies even to many people who make their living by being tough negotiators. If you see an item in a sale rack or in an outlet store, don’t hesitate to ask the salesperson if a discount is available on an item you like. In most cases, the salesperson will say that the price is non-negotiable. Keep in mind that the salesperson is unlikely to have the authority to offer discounts, and ask to speak to the owner or manager. Individuals whose job performance is more closely tied to the store’s bottom line are far more likely to offer a better price, especially if the item has been on the shelf or rack for an extended period. So get over your shyness or other hesitation and haggle. You have absolutely nothing to lose, and could end up saving a few pounds or more. And those pounds can add up quickly if you have much shopping to do.

The key is to think like the merchant, and to take steps to ensure that you are in an buyer’s market, no matter where you happen to shop. The more control you take in your purchasing, the better the deals you will get. And getting a better deal is the important thing, right?

Paul graduated in 2001 with a degree in Finance. Since then he has gone on to work for several of the UK's most well-known financial institutions.

An avid blogger and a huge football fan, Paul is here to guide you through the ins and outs of personal finance and perhaps save you some money in the process!

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