Frugal Ways to Update Your Wardrobe for Spring


It’s almost time to put away the hats, gloves, and scarves and pull out the shorts, sandals, and swimsuits. Can you believe it?

For most of us, this was the winter that wasn’t, and I’m especially happy about that — I hate the cold weather.

As you switch your wardrobe from heavy to light, I hope you’re also thinking of inexpensive (and even free) ways to give your warm-weather looks an update. If not, here are some of my tips on how to add freshness to your spring closet without sacrificing your savings. (See also: 10 Steps to Update Your Look on a Budget)

1. Take Inventory and Make Decisions

Every spring and fall, I switch most of the contents of my closet to accommodate the season. In the fall, I put away my spring stock and bring out the sweaters and vice versa. When I’m changing for spring, however, I have more opportunity to make new clothes out of old clothes — a luxury that I don’t have in the fall. For instance, I clear out all my pants and decide which ones I don’t want to wear anymore — maybe I don’t like them as pants or perhaps they’ve shrunk too much in the wash — and turn them into cut-off shorts. If you don’t like the look of cut-offs, you can still turn the pants into shorts and have them tailored for a cleaner look. Whatever you prefer, this tip will save you lots of money since you won’t have to buy new shorts.

2. Sell Whatever You Can’t Upcycle

If you have particularly good taste in clothes and keep them in good condition, it could pay off. Instead of donating totally unwanted items to charity, list them on an auction site first; making a bit of money back is always better than giving away clothes you’ve spent your hard-earned cash on. With the cash you get back, you don’t have to feel so bad if you want to pick up a few new items. If you don’t have any luck online, try a consignment shop. You may not get as much in return, but at least it’s something.

3. Trade Clothes With Friends

If you have a friend who has a similar style and fits into the same size as you, why not have a clothes trade? You can both bring your unwanted items to the table and rummage through each other’s belongings. This works even better if there are more than two people involved; your chances of getting great pieces is increased.

4. Shop Sales at the Outlets

Outlet prices are typically lower than their original counterparts, but if you wait until seasonal sales — like Memorial Day or Fourth of July — you can score deep discounts on already-reduced clothing. Don’t forget to hit up the clearance rack first. I very rarely shop in the new arrivals sections, and I’ve found some amazing pieces at way below retail.

5. Don’t Forget to Score Additional Discounts

If you’re shopping at retail stores, keep in mind that many of them are connected to social media these days. Check Foursquare or Shopkick for deals, and don’t be afraid to ask the cashier if there’s a student or military discount if you apply; these discounts will often save you an additional 10 to 20%.

6. Visit Thrift Shops and Flea Markets

Since I was in high school, I’ve loved thrift shopping. There’s no telling what you’ll find there, and it’s all super low-priced. In addition, many thrift shops (like Goodwill and Salvation Army) have days during the week when certain colored tags are discounted even further — as much as 75% sometimes. Flea markets are a great place to find cool pieces as well, especially since you can haggle with the seller. Don’t be afraid to lower the initial asking price; that alone could save you a couple dollars.

Do you have more frugal ways to update your wardrobe for spring? Let me know in the comments below.

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Guest's picture

I'm currently dealing with this right now... #1 is difficult to do when your weight is fluctuating, though :(.

Guest's picture

Buy accessories instead of clothes. Belts, jewelry, handbags, shoes, and scarves can update old outfits too. A bottle of Rit dye can really help out old clothes too and hide stains.

Guest's picture

Just replaced all of my socks - I waited wayyyyyy too long! Saved around 50% by grabbing the packs from the clearance rack (same as the ones on the regular shelf but with ripped containers).

Guest's picture

Swapping clothes with a friend is a great idea!! I remember growing up, my favorite thing to do was go through the clothes my sister was getting rid of after she cleaned out her closet. We all have that friend or sister who has a style we envy and certain clothes we wish we owned. Rather than trying to find something similar, I'd wait until she had worn it out for herself and was bored with it and take it then. Even to this day, if I notice something in her closet she hasn't worn in what seems years and doesn't seem like something she'd wear again, I ask her about it and most of the time she's pretty quick to hand it over. For me, it's like getting a brand new outfit for free. I love it.

Guest's picture

You can tailor pieces, like take the sleeves off a blouse for a change. Make capris out of slacks, or shorts out of pants. Every year I buy a half dozen standard tees from target and a new pair of sandals. This years sandals were a mistake, I bought five inch high heel sandals for $20 on line. I figure I need to wear them at least twenty times.

Last year, I bought new shorts on clearance. I found them 90% off, so I bought eight.

I tend to splatter a lot while cooking, so I need a lot of items.

Guest's picture
Someone's Mom

Learn how to sew and you won't have to have to pay to have your cutoffs tailored.

Mikey Rox's picture

Totally agree. Great tip!

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