How to Save Money on Clothing: Confessions of an Image Consultant

clothes closet

Some of you may not even know what an image consultant is, but that’s what I am. Basically, I’m a certified image professional who helps people with their wardrobes and closets. (Have you ever seen the TV show “What not to Wear?” I’m Stacey…just nicer.) My clients range from stay at home moms to very wealthy socialites, yet they all have the same goal. They want a fabulous wardrobe that will serve them well, whether they’re playing with their kids at the park or walking the red carpet. Over the (many) years I’ve been in business, I’ve learned certain principles that I think can help anyone improve their wardrobe no matter what their budg


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20 Responses to How to Save Money on Clothing: Confessions of an Image Consultant

  1. Mary says:

    So here is my question. How much is a reasonable amount to spend for a clothing budget each year? Should I be spending $500 a year? $1000? More? How much does it really cost to put together an assortment of good outfits? And how do you determine how much that is? What do other people spend on their clothing each year? I guess what I’m looking for is some average amount that others spend so that I can get a better idea what I should be spending on clothing.

  2. Janette says:

    It’s usually 2-5 percent of your net income. So if you are making $3000 net every month your budget for clothing will be anywhere from $60 to $150. I know that’s a big difference – so what I do is I make sure all the important categories get the proper percentage of my income then I decide what’s the fair amount for clothing. I hope this helps :)

  3. Great article. I really needed this advice. Off to clean out my closets.

  4. Karin says:

    Thanks for this great article. It neatly summarises my philosophy on buying clothes … I’d rather own a small number of fabulous, long-lasting, well-fitting garments, than heaps of things I’m half-hearted about. Frugal does not mean cheap 😉

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  6. Jessie says:

    Similar question to Mary, but regarding alterations. What should I expect/plan to pay for certain alterations?

  7. Jessie says:

    I wish someone had told me this information years ago! I tend to go for the great sales, to be able to afford a few more “fun” clothes. I’ve made some great finds at thrift stores and department store specials. But have only twice in my (40-plus) life used alterations. Takes forever to find jeans that don’t gap at the waistband when fitting well everywhere else. The “correct fit” comments I learned the hard way, after seeing a few expensive impulse purchases sit in my closet too long; loved the style but not 100 percent about the fit, so would pull something else out of the closet to wear.

    I admit my closet stays on the full side; takes a while to mentally part with a few things that I loved wearing, but got one little stain on the front. But, that’s for another article (potential for hoarding/clutter). 😉

  8. Amy says:

    The costs of alterations varies. At many stores, if you pay full price for an item they will do basic alterations (hems, shorten sleeve) for free. Other things, like taking in the waist, you will have to pay for. (I’ve paid from $20-30 for that service.) Sometimes it’s less expensive to take alterations to a local tailor in your town.

  9. Amy says:

    Purging a closet can be a challenge….definitely could be another article! 😉

  10. Maria says:

    Can you recommend some high quality stores for women’s clothing? I find that often times trendy clothing can be very expensive and still low quality… any tips?

  11. I love and agree with the quality over quantity concept. I am always more than willing to spend a bit more on shoes and a jeans.

  12. benny says:

    I’ll be sending this to my wife. I hope it doesn’t get me in too much trouble…

  13. Amy says:

    @Maria, that’s a good question. Not knowing where you live, your budget, or your lifestyle (career clothes, mom clothes, etc.) it’s hard to give you specific recommendations. I have had a lot of luck at Nordstrom, as they have a variety of price points and some great in-house labels. (such as Classiques and Caslon) Another great option is high-end resale shops. I bring all my clients’ clothes to Afterwards in Menlo Park, California. Lots of designer merchandise, much of which has never or rarely been worn. Check out if you have a similar shop in your town, and you could really find some great things! Hope this helps.

  14. Gail says:

    I’ve lived most of my life making most of my clothes, but much of the advice here still applies. When making a skirt, be sure you have tops that go with it. If you make a top be sure you have skirts and pants that go. Making a jacket that pulls everything together. Learn to make your garments well enough that they will last. Spend the most time on classic items. “Fun” clothes can be made quicker and cheaper if you don’t plan on keeping and wearing it for long. I’ve had some garments that I have worn for years. I know I’m no fashion plate, but as I focus more on what and why I’m making something my wardrobe has been really pulling together. Several years ago I realized that I didn’t have a decent outfit to wear to a wedding or a funeral (it was scratching my head to figure out what to wear to a funeral that made me aware of the fact). So even without a set occassion to wear them I made a winter and a summer dress. When my son got married this summer, I discovered to my delight the ‘wedding’ dress went with all the other clothes I brought for the wedding. I had made them all and they all coordinated right down to the necklace that my hubby had made for me. It felt good that sewing with a plan, which is how I have been sewing my clothes for several years is really starting to work out.

  15. Amy says:

    @Gail–kudos on your seamstress abilities! My mom made all my clothes growing up, and I pitched in starting in 3rd grade. I agree that the same principals apply to fit, fabric, and really thinking your wardrobe through.

  16. Yvonne says:

    Thank you, I like the advice. I find great things at the thrift stores, and really that’s the only thing I can afford, but when you say tailoring is essential, then why not buy that 70% off item that is a little big in the shoulders or whatever?

    My dilemma: I only recently came into the business dress world (I was 100% uniform before) and literally have no fashion sense whatsoever. I do my best, but end up with a lot of those “orphans” that I have no clue what to do with. Any websites or “layering rules” you can suggest for business casual without breaking the bank? I’m not talking suits, but nice sweaters and dark jeans, layered tops and colored jeans. Oh, and the jewelry option just baffles me! Thanks

  17. Amy says:

    @Yvonne. With alterations, you can only alter one size, at most two. Set in shoulders are one of the toughest alterations (and very expensive), so if it’s a tailored jacket that’s much too big, then odds are that it won’t be able to be fitted correctly. I’ve seen people try to take a size 12 down to a size 8, and it just doesn’t work. All the proportions are off.

    For business casual, the key is having a third piece. By that, I mean a cardigan or jacket that finishes off the pant (or skirt) and top. Adding a scarf or a necklace and earrings really add a lot to the overall look as well. If you’re starting from scratch, definitely buy neutrals (black, brown, beige, cream, white, charcoal) as they are much easier to mix and match, so your dollar will go farther. You can add pops of color with scarves, which certainly don’t have to break the bank.

  18. Amanda says:

    Great article. I am in the process of shedding some baby weight, and look forward to cleaning out my closet to get new clothes that fit. Here is a tip to help prolong your jeans and in turn save some money. Turn your jeans inside out and wash/rinse them in cold water on the delicate cycle. Hot water causes the dye to fade and normal washing will loosen the fabric, leading to premature fraying and/or holes.

  19. Connor Gardiner says:

    I never buy clothing at retail price. Always wait for sales and make sure I buy off-season when there are more discounts available. Saves about 50% from my clothing bill.

  20. Pingback: How to: Save Money While Shopping | Jen's Fashion Blog

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