Unless you’re on a nudist beach in France, clothes are a necessary part of life and unavoidable expense. An expensive expense, unfortunately. The cost to update your wardrobe adds up quickly. It’s easy to spend money on new clothes without even trying, but hard to save.
So how can you keep your wardrobe up-to-date without sacrificing your entire savings account in the process? Simply shop out of season. Here’s a quick guide to saving hundreds of dollars by buying your clothes at the most counter-intuitive (but brilliant) times.
Think About Summer When the Weather Gets Cold
Retail stores have to keep inventory fresh, so they rotate displays regularly. Though you might be tempted to buy a few new swimsuits and tank tops when you need them most in July, you’ll save a ton of money by waiting patiently until September or October.
As soon as the cool weather sets in, or even threatens to arrive, stores will quickly try to clear out “outdated” inventory items by marking them on sale. If you really want to live on the edge, don’t settle for initial sale prices of 25% or 30%. Continue waiting until the sale items become clearance items. You can usually score at least an extra 20% to 30% off your clothes this way.
Just keep in mind that clearance items don’t usually come in a wide selection of sizes (especially the standard ones) and colors. They may look a little beat up or faded too. It’s a gamble; high odds, but high rewards.
Plan For Chilly Weather in the Heat
All of the same logic applies for winter clothes as well. Heavy sweaters, coats, scarves, and hats are cheapest during the spring and summer when nobody needs them. However, it’s also possible to score a great deal during the fall if you find a generous Labor Day sale or Black Friday promotion.
Don’t Forget to Check Online
Retail stores aren’t the only ones to cycle through products based on the time of year. Most online retailers also discount clothes that aren’t in season. Though the selection won’t be as broad, you can find sandals dirt cheap in February compared to June.
It’s also easier to monitor online sales since you can just hop on your computer instead of driving to the store. Online retailers use sales and clearance promotions to capture as much internet traffic as possible, so you might be able to combine a conveniently timed sale with a discount code or sign-up-for-newsletter offer to get your clothes at a crazy markdown.
Come Back in Two Months
If all else fails, come back in a few months. Most stores can’t keep inventory at a regular price longer than six to eight weeks. If you see something that you must have but your budget won’t allow it, come back in a few weeks to see if it’s hit the sale rack yet.
Your patience and perseverance will eventually pay off. There are few feelings in the world as gratifying as scoring an awesome deal on an item you really, really wanted. And, to quote an old fashion business saying: “Only fools pay retail.”
Read about micro-investing and how to get started with our complete guide: Micro-Investing: What It Is, Why It’s for You and How to Start.