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10 tips: How to save cash when buying clothes

No matter what specific wardrobe needs you have or where you like to shop, you really can avoid paying top dollar on clothing. These tips can help you experience the thrill of beating the system. By Laura T. Coffey.
/ Source: msnbc.com contributor

Are you a working professional with an ongoing need for a stockpile of suits? A person who enjoys having a variety of casual outfits at the ready? A parent with multiple children to clothe? Or maybe all of the above?

Regardless of what specific wardrobe needs you have or where you like to shop, you really can avoid paying top dollar on clothing.

These tips can help you experience the thrill of beating the system.

1. Figure out precisely when to hunt for bargains. Your favorite stores will have several big sales throughout the course of the year. With a minimal amount of advance planning, you can time things so you shop only during the best sales. If you don’t feel like monitoring the ads in your local newspaper, call the stores directly and ask for details.

2. Get thee to the back of the store. Make it a regular habit to scour those hidden-away discount racks first. You’ll find plenty of marked-down garments there, and sometimes the deepness of the discounts is shocking. Those same clothes likely were on display at full price in the front of the store just a few short months or weeks ago.

3. Be a savvy Internet shopper. Visit the Web sites of your favorite stores and clothing catalogs and look for online-only sales. Click on any link that says “sale,” “new markdowns” or “final clearance.” It’s not at all uncommon to spot dresses or suits that used to cost $100 or more lurking in final clearance sections for $19.99 or even $9.99. If you’re really sneaky, you can try clothes on at your nearest retail store first to make sure they fit and then buy them online for less. Just make sure that excessive shipping charges won’t turn your online deal into a dud.

4. Look for additional online discounts. When making purchases via the Web, stay on the lookout for areas where you can enter a “promotional code,” “discount code” or “coupon.” If you spot such an option, open a Web browser in another window and do a quick Google search for the retailer’s name along with the same catch phrase used on that retailer’s Web site. Your search could yield a coupon code that could help you save even more on your clothing purchase.

5. Remember outlet malls and stores. Some outlet stores offer fabulous discounts on high-quality clothing, while others sell clothing at prices higher than you’d find at regular retailers. You also may encounter merchandise produced solely for outlet stores that can be of inferior quality. All of that said, outlet stores frequently offer serious bargains on “irregular” garments, which often have defects that are barely noticeable.

6. Visit discount retailers. Have you taken a pass through the likes of T.J. Maxx, Ross Stores, Marshalls or Target lately? Lots of their clothes are nice – and inexpensive. You can find reasonably priced shoes, purses and accessories such as jewelry and watches at these stores as well.

7. Go thrifting. Shopping at thrift stores takes patience and time, so you shouldn’t go when you’re in a big hurry. But you can find beautiful suits, jackets, dresses, sweaters and other clothing there for literally pennies on the dollar. Sometimes you’ll even spot brand new clothes with the tags still attached.

8. Really go thrifting. So you say you’d rather get those dress pants for $1 instead of $5? Well, you probably can. Many thrift stores offer regular weekly deals that provide true shopping thrills for bargain hounds. For example, all clothes tagged with stickers of a certain color may cost 99 cents on a certain day of the week. Call up the thrift stores in your area and ask about special sales.

9. Make wise shopping decisions for kids. Buy clothes that are a little bit too big for your growing boy or girl. You can hem pants and let them out later, or roll up sleeves for a while until your child grows into that shirt.

10. Don’t give up on the clothes you have too easily. Many ignored and abandoned items in your closet could enjoy a new life with a little bit of TLC. Coats and blazers can be relined, shoes can be resoled and small imperfections can be repaired. If you have a pair of shoes that you never wear because their soles slip too easily, use sandpaper to give them better traction.

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