Saving on Clothes

Whether it's for school, work or play, the cost of clothing can add up quickly. Being a savvy shopper, however, can help you save money.

Thrift Stores and Consignment Stores

For those who don't mind gently used items, thrift stores and consignment stores may be the way to go. They offer a large selection at drastically reduced prices, with the added bonus of knowing how a piece will hold up after use. This can be a great way to find name brands at substantial savings. For even greater savings, ask about special promotions. Some stores, such as Savers and Goodwill, will offer additional discounts on certain holidays or days of the week.

Another option along these lines is to shop tag sales. Clothing items are often sold for pennies on the dollar, resulting in tremendous deals and savings. And catching a tag sale right before closing time can yield even lower prices.

These options may not be the best choice for consumers looking for hard-to-find sizes or styles, however, as it can be tricky getting a specific piece. But shopping on a regular basis may turn up some real bargains.

Outlet Stores

If you prefer new items, or are looking for a particular brand, you may want to head to the local outlet center instead. Outlets offer special deals on slightly irregular items or overstock items, as well as sales on first-run merchandise. Be careful when it comes to outlets, though, as not all prices will be a good value. Get to know regular prices on sought-after items to better compare with outlet "savings."

Other sources of brand-name merchandise include discount chains such as Marshalls and T.J. Maxx. These stores will buy overstock items at discounted prices, resulting in savings on the manufacturers' suggested retail prices. Again, know prices before you head in. It's easy to get caught up in their advertised "savings" and not actually get a great deal.

Discount Stores

Don't forget chain stores like Walmart and Target, or even discount chains like Ocean State Job Lot or Big Lots. These stores can offer a great selection of items at reduced prices.

Due to their large quantity of stores, Walmart and Target purchase items in bulk, resulting in reduced per-piece costs. The same is true of club stores such as Sam's Club, BJ's and Costco. While these items may not be name brand, styles are often modeled after well-known companies, without the expensive price tag.

Discount chains such as Ocean State and Big Lots purchase overstock items and slightly irregular items, resulting in even greater savings. Sometimes these items will be name brand, and sometimes these items will be from lesser-known companies. Watch sales flyers and keep an eye out for special promotions.

Stick With the Classics

The best investment is a collection of classic pieces - simple cuts, neutral or basic colors and clean designs. Trends will come and go, and trying to keep up will more often than not keep consumers in debt. With this in mind, look for end-of-season pieces that will still look great the following year, or stock up on bargains that can be used often and in the long-term.

Sticking with the classics also makes it possible to stock up on kids' clothes for future seasons. Find a great deal on t-shirts or jeans? Buy a size or two larger to avoid panic attacks when those perfectly good pants don't fit anymore.

Still interested in trends? Consider adding an accessory jewelry, hat, purse or belt that will add a pop of color or novelty to an otherwise classic look. The beauty of a simple wardrobe is its flexibility to suit any occasion.

General Tips

Be careful of tags that list the "suggested price" and the "store price" as these can often lead consumers to focus on the "savings" as opposed to the real value. Discounts don't always mean savings - if you don't need the item in the first place.

Going shopping with a list or an idea of what styles and pieces you need will ensure you don't waste money on something that will just sit in the back of your closet. Do you even like that top or are you just contemplating it because it's 90% off? Stay focused. True savings are found when needed items are purchased for a fraction of the cost.