4 Tips for Building a Better Budget-Friendly Wardrobe

Now that the world is opening up again, you may be looking at your closet in a new way. The yoga leggings and sweatshirts you’ve been predominantly wearing over the past two years aren’t cutting it anymore.

Whether you’ve transitioned back to an in-office job or the clothes you loved pre-pandemic no longer match your taste, you’re not alone. It’s time to refill your closet — but not empty your wallet. Building a better wardrobe starts with planning on how to afford it and sticking with a set budget. Whether you’re continuing to stay mostly at home, going into the office full-time, or something in-between, we’ve got you covered.

There are ways to keep your bank balance happy and update your closet, too. Keep reading for four practical ways to build your wardrobe without breaking the bank.

1. Use Debit Over Credit

What kind of shopper are you? Do you enter a store with one purpose in mind and leave with that specific item? Or do you find yourself looking for something online and then adding dozens of items to your checkout cart? No matter what type of shopper you are, adapting this tip early will be worthwhile for you and your bank account.

Purchasing new clothes with a debit card can help ensure you don’t go overboard with your spending. With a debit card, you can only spend the money you have in your account — you can’t be tempted to rack up costly debt. Some cards will even round up purchases to the nearest dollar and add the difference to your savings account. This will help you save as you shop.

2. Consider Renting

If you find that your style is always changing or that you are never completely satisfied with your closet, consider renting clothes. This is a popular option, especially for those that need a particular item for an event, such as a wedding. And if you are just starting to go back to the office, renting clothes can make you feel on your A-game. Not to mention, renting clothes helps you see what styles look best on your body before you fully commit to them.

Clothing rental companies like Rent the Runway and Armoire will ship items directly to your door. This convenience factor is also something to keep in mind if you simply don’t have the time to shop. With rentals, you are typically given a certain amount of pieces for a predetermined amount of time. These items can sometimes be purchased if you absolutely fall in love with them. It’s a winning strategy that can be beneficial for the environment as well.

3. Go to Sample Sales

For those living in major metropolitan areas, sample sales may become your new BFF. Fashion brands use sample sales to offload excess merchandise, often sample designs used in the sales process. Items are significantly reduced in price as the items are typically from previous seasons. Who doesn’t love getting a great bargain from a major, well-known brand, right?

New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago host some of the biggest sample sales. If you live or are visiting these cities, time the sales right. Depending on the brand, hundreds of people may show up. It’s definitely an event, so you’ll want to be equipped for a long day with lots of people eager to get their hands on the same items. A quick search online will direct you to sales happening every week to help you with planning.

Speaking of web searches, you can even get in on the action if you live far from the aforementioned fashion capitals. Online sample sales can net you savings on designer styles whether you live in Bangor or Bozeman.

4. Be Brand Loyal for Deep Discounts

Lastly, if you tend to shop for clothes at a few key retailers, then be sure to be on their lists. This means signing up for newsletters and rewards programs. It may sound simple, but it can lead to big savings. Being brand loyal often means you can earn loyalty points and rewards for future savings. Rack up these coupons before hitting the store to save even more money.

Additionally, many brands today are offering recycling incentives leading to gift cards and coupons. Madewell, for example, has a well-established denim recycling program in which individuals can turn in jeans for money off a new pair. Other companies such as Lululemon and Marine Layer are offering similar recycling programs leading to bigger returns. If you shop consistently at a few stores, you’ll know how and when to save big.


Purchasing new clothes is essential every few years to refresh your style and meet your needs. Getting a new wardrobe can be exciting! But unfortunately, those trendy new clothes aren’t free. Updating your wardrobe can be detrimental to your wallet.

While you may think you are only getting a few things, the final price can be a lot more than you anticipated. Planning ahead is key, as is going into it with a purpose. As long as you keep these few key points in mind, you will be wearing snazzy new clothes in no time. Better yet, you won’t be stressing over how much you spent on them.

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