5 Smart Ways to Save on Back-to-School Clothing


I say it every year, but the summer raced by at lightning speed. It's already mid-August, and many of us are diving deep into back-to-school mode. One of the most important parts of getting ready? Dressing the part. But refreshing your fall wardrobe — whether you're heading into the classroom or not — doesn't need to cost a fortune. In fact, it doesn't need to cost anything at all! (Related: 50 Ways to Update Your Wardrobe On the Cheap)

Here are some tips that will get you looking smart without spending foolishly.

1. Take Stock

Before trekking to the store, it's important you gain a solid understanding of the clothes that already live in your dresser drawers. Take a couple hours to dump all your clothing items onto your bed and to go through them. Try each piece on to see what fits both your body and lifestyle. Divide into three piles: keep, toss/donate, and on-the-fence. Place the keep and on-the-fence clothes back into your closet and proceed with the next tips. (You can always repeat again with those clothes you're not sure about.)

2. Sell the Old

And before throwing away or donating discarded clothing, try hitting up your local consignment shops. You can even sell your stuff (for free!) online with sites like thredUP. Keep in mind that most stores prefer name brand clothes in good condition (no stains, rips, pilling, etc.) that are within a few fashion seasons of the current date. Then pocket the money you earn to put toward new duds. Many stores will give you more credit versus cash if you choose to shop with your earnings there.

3. Think Thrifty

That's right! While you're at the consignment store, take a look around. Chances are you might discover a few pieces you love that are like-new and won't end up costing you a dime. Thrift stores like GoodWill and Salvation Army are other good places to browse, you'll just want to inspect these pieces more carefully for signs of wear. Historically, I've found great deals in these types of places, especially on children's clothing, since kids outgrow shirts and pants so quickly, they hardly get a chance to lose that gently worn look. (Related: 6 Back-to-School Items You Should Always Buy at the Thrift Store)

4. Add Accessories

Before racing to the retail stores, consider if more clothes are really what you need. Sometimes having fewer options means that dressing takes less time and energy in the mornings, meaning you go about your day with less hassle. You may also get better overall use out of a smaller wardrobe because you won't forget about anything in the depths of your closet. If you think this idea applies to you, shop around for a few key accessories — belts, scarves, hats, jewelry — that can transform otherwise plain outfits into sheer style. (Related: Affordable Accessories to Kickstart Your Style)

5. Shop Sales

Don't pile into the car without a plan if you want good deals on a new wardrobe. Take some time to check your local paper, TV advertisements, and store websites for any promotions or coupons. And don't forget to check those social media accounts, as some major shops post coupon codes only for their loyal fans to enjoy. Chances are, there's a sale upcoming, and you'll be kicking yourself if you pay full price only to find whatever you bought is 40% off days later. Once you purchase, be sure to protect your investment by washing your clothing less often.

What are your best methods for saving big on back-to-school clothing? Please share in comments

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