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Over 15 Ways to Save Money on Clothes
Yes, I know. I'm a man writing about clothes. But the fact is that, contrary to popular belief, men do wear clothes most of the time. Maybe not all the time around the house, but when out, it's like the saying goes: "Clothes maketh the man".
Nowadays there's less to worry about if you're a man and you want to look the best you can. It's the 21st century. I'm not going to spout about all that "get in touch with your feminine side" nonsense. But clothes can be quite expensive, so you want to look your best, but what if you don't want to end up broke or in debt?
You obviously can’t afford to buy Levi Jeans or Tommy Hilfiger tops if you’re reading this. You’re just looking to clothe yourself because it’s still illegal in most places to walk around in the nude - and we would if we could, wouldn't we? Well, maybe not in Winter. So buy from the brands that would most suit your budget. As you get older, especially as a guy, you care less about brands, logos, and so on, mainly because you are on a budget and spending your own money – not someone else’s… well, unless you happen to have a sugar mommy or daddy with a healthy credit limit. Just a plain, well made article of clothing that serves its purpose will do for most of us, though. During the rougher financial periods, like the last few years for instance, you’ll see people wear what they can afford, and people who wouldn’t have done so before, will gradually start walking in to a GAP, Mr. Price or even a Pep store – and coming out with a complementary brown paper bag (not to put the clothes in, but to put their heads in).
If you absolutely must have the latest and best, or at least would rather die of cold than step inside an Ackermans, consider some of the following options:
- Go to a factory shop or a wholesaler
You’ll most definitely pay less here for shoes or clothes, as they don’t seem to have a problem selling it to you, although it may be required that you own or be associated with a registered company first before being able to purchase. In my experience it isn't necessary, however.
Wholesalers will charge less seeing as they have yet to sell their products to a retailer. Retailers would then add on their mark-up in order to make a profit. The only thing with wholesalers is that they are typically not located in or near most malls. They’ll most likely be found in more industrial areas. So it might require a longer journey in order to get there. So the money you save on clothes will be spent on fuel - unless you walk, in which case you may need a new pair of shoes by the time you get there.
- Buy rejects
You can even buy rejects from factories. Now you’re thinking that “reject” means something bad. Well, let me explain. A reject is not a fake. A reject is something that is a genuine product, but it’s flawed. A stitch is wrong, or the logo is off by even a millimetre. These products fail to pass quality inspection anywhere that isn't China and so are not fit to be sold in stores. But they aren’t thrown away. That would be a terrible waste of material. You can buy them, or you might once again need a business in order to buy them from a factory.
Years ago I personally knew someone who was into doing this, and I would buy clothes from them at a considerably lower price than retail. You have to have a very good eye and keen attention to detail to notice most rejects. Some are very obvious. Most aren’t. The average person likely won’t notice. Besides, we're men. We accept we aren't perfect and don't try to be, unlike some other creatures we know. People love us for our flaws, so they may as well love us for our flawed clothes as well.
- Get hand-me-downs
Remember years ago when the clothes that didn’t fit your older brothers (or sisters, if that's the case) were then passed on to you? You hardly got any new clothes, because you had a bunch of ill-fitting, stinky, worn clothes to wear!
Skip the underpants and the socks entirely, though. That’s just nasty – wearing somebody else’s undergarments. But do look in to T-shirts, jerseys, jackets, and even pants (not underpants). You might even stumble upon some trendy stuff. Someone you know, whether it be a relative or friend might just give them to you. You could even offer to pay a little or offer something in return, like an IOU, helping them to move house when the time comes – which it won’t, in this economy, unless they’re moving from their house in to the gutter.
At times, articles of clothing aren't even worn by people. The person gets home and realises a shirt is the wrong size but is too lazy or busy (lazy, likely) to take it back to the store.
"A reject is something that is a genuine product, but it’s flawed. These products fail to pass quality inspection anywhere that isn't China and so are not fit to be sold in stores."
- Dumpster diving
Well, if civilised people can use this tactic in order to find food, then you can do it too. You could check dumpsters, trash bins and possibly land fill sites for clothes. You'd be surprised by what you may find. Just note that you will be treated just like all the beggars on the streets doing the same thing if you get caught – harshly. People don't take kindly to having even their rubbish disturbed. Ask first, perhaps.
Ideally you could avoid having to do this. What you could do is go from door to door and ask people if they have any old clothes that they plan on throwing out to save you from raiding bins and possibly ending up being arrested. You could then take what you want and then even take the rest to a homeless shelter or something. Give a little back, bro, even if it isn't yours in the first place.
- Borrow clothes
You could just borrow somebody’s clothes for a while if you need them. I've let friends borrow clothes from time to time and I've done the same – borrowed from them. But do it with their permission. Don’t steal something, or worse they leave it at your house by mistake and then you take it for your own and wear it, and even deny it’s theirs when they confront you. That’s low. And try not to spill anything on them or make it so they are not wearable in public, and end up being used as nothing more than oil rags. Do unto others' clothes as you would have them do to yours.
- Rent clothes
You've heard of renting a tuxedo or a Halloween costume? These businesses cater to special events and usually not the everyday wearing of clothes. But come the time when you need to attend a wedding, especially if it's yours, and you have nothing to wear for the occasion, you can just rent a suit, which would be cheaper than buying one, probably. And why would you want to own something that you only have to wear once? Yes, you might get divorced and remarry again at some point, but do you really think that after a few years of slowly letting yourself go you'll even be able to fit into the same outfit?
- Help a friend with their clothing line or business
Maybe somebody you know starts up their own business or clothing brand. Perhaps they make their own clothes. You could help them out and buy a few clothes - you may even get a discount. That's what friends are for.
You could also volunteer to help them with their business as a rep or even a model. Then you could have a job in addition to new clothes. And you’d probably claim a commission from any referrals. You could have photos taken of you in these clothes and upload them to a website, with a professional looking gallery or catalogue. Yes, you could just use a mannequin if you want. Or get another model to do it. No, copy and pasting Justin Bieber's face on to the picture would probably get you and/or your friend sued.
"And why would you want to own something that you only have to wear once? Yes, you might get divorced and remarry again at some point, but do you really think that after a few years of slowly letting yourself go you'll even be able to fit into the same outfit?"
- Make your own clothes
You could even do it yourself – make your own clothes. Handy with a sewing kit or knitting; perhaps crocheting? Come on! You were in the scouts or the military, weren't you? Maybe you took Home Economics instead of Business Economics by "mistake" in school. Don't worry, we know you only did it to meet girls.
Either way, consider giving it a go. You could knit yourself a sweater or a jersey. And you can use whatever designs you want. You could even extend this to have your own clothing line if none of your friends is that creative.
- Try army surplus stores
In Winter if you want a thick, hardy jacket to keep you warm, consider going to a military surplus store. Never mind those branded items in the shops that cost an arm and a leg. They won’t keep you warm and you’ll still be wearing layers of clothes underneath. Go and buy a genuine army jacket. The ones used by military forces in colder climates are ideal seeing as they may well have a lining of sorts on the inside to help insulate you. They’ll last forever and it’ll be a fraction of the cost as well. Hell, you could wear the lining on its own and what do you know, you've got two new items of clothing!
You can also pick up a pair of army boots, and these will also be around for the next few decades, for your grandchildren to wear, compared to the regular store variety. Army uniforms are built to last and besides, women like a man in uniform.
- Shop around
Shop around and see if you can’t get the same item or something similar somewhere else, cheaper. Some shops even offer you the ability to inform them of a place that has an item for sale for cheaper, and then they will match or beat that price.
- Buy when a sale is on
The advice is never pay the retail price. Always look for better options. Wait until a sale (especially a closing sale) is on at the store and then go and see what you can get. Otherwise you could try to ask the clerk for a discount on an object. I’ve done this. A store clerk said to me once that they do hand out discounts on items but only so much discount is allowed every month, so he said to come back at the end of the month and I could have the item for less. This might not be done by every store though.
- Own a store loyalty card
It might pay to have a store loyalty card so that with every purchase you make you get loyalty points awarded to you. Then eventually you’ll get a voucher entitling you to buy up to the amount specified without paying anything out of your own pocket.
A similar idea is to use an eBucks card. You’ll swipe this at any participating store, and you get points, which can be accumulated and used to purchase items at other participating stores.
- Second hand clothing stores
You could try second hand clothing stores that will sell items cheaper than retail price, but only just. They do add on a quite a lot of mark-up, considering that they do run a business in the end and have to make a profit. When you're there, just make up an excuse that you're there to look at second hand power tools and say you're buying the clothes for the wife. Just don't let any women nearby hear you say you're buying second hand clothes for your wife, especially if you aren't married.
- Try the classifieds
You never know. Someone might have a start up clothing business, or they might have a garage sale or just a big box o'stuff they're throwing away where you might find some clothes.
- Dress party or clothes swap
An idea that I've read about that sounds rather unusual is a dress party. Now hang on, you don't actually wear dresses. Everyone knows a man reserves the right to do that in private from time to time, and only because he can. Basically you invite friends, neighbours and so on round to a party, and you have them bring all the clothes they no longer wear. Then people can swap clothes or take from a big pile, try them on and then take them home if they like them. Almost like one of those swinger parties. Free clothes along with free food and drink. What's to complain about?
- Import items
You could try and have an item imported. Now this sounds as though it would be very expensive – and it probably is. But what I really mean is, rather than go through a courier or company, get a friend while overseas to buy an item and bring it back with him and then you can pay him back.
I did this years ago when there was a belt I really wanted. So I had someone buy one for me while he was vacationing in Australia, because that’s where this particular company's products are made. It was much cheaper than buying it locally. And he didn’t go about charging interest, or make me contribute towards airfare cost, airport tax, import tax, or pay a courier delivery fee. Friends don't do that.
- Shop and buy online
You can shop online and buy clothes nowadays, and even order clothes and have them delivered to your doorstep. That's perfect for men who don't want to be seen clothes shopping and don't care for exercise much either.
It's so much more convenient and quicker to visit a website and you can have multiple websites open in different tabs, or even use a service like pricecheck.co.za, where you can compare prices of goods between stores. So it's a lot easier to save a few bucks, and your sanity – what with not having to deal with clueless salespeople, and not to mention the changing rooms...
You may even get a sale or voucher that is exclusive to online shoppers who visit their website or Facebook presence, even.
You can also try Ebay, naturally, seeing as someone might buy something and it doesn't fit or they don't like it, they might put it up for auction. As long as you don't let your ego get in the way and bid more than the sale price in store (I know it's hard, but let the other idiots get ripped off instead of you), you might score a bargain.
"An idea that sounds rather unusual is a dress party. Now hang on, you don't actually wear dresses. Everyone knows a man reserves the right to do that in private from time to time, and only because he can."
Don’t ever buy or make fakes. For one, it is illegal and you could well face jail time if someone came along, saw what you were doing and reported you. If you knowingly buy fakes because you can’t afford the real thing, then that’s your choice, but you are supporting the criminals by doing so. A lot of fakes are easy to spot, as they will have more than one company’s logo present, or the logo will deviate slightly or even fully from an original. They may have designs that the brand in question does not produce. They may also lack other information or packaging that should come standard with a genuine, original product as well.
A knockoff isn’t a fake and isn’t illegal most of the time. A knockoff is something that copies the design of another product, but belongs to a different company or brand. One company may well get more than a little cheesed off and decide to sue the other company for copyright infringement. But you’d be surprised how quite a bit of the time, these cases involving large companies are thrown out.
Also, don’t ever be so desperate that you have to steal clothes. Consider this: is it really worth stealing clothes, an act which could land you in prison, where the only thing you’ll be wearing for the next few years is an ugly prison jumpsuit and possibly a bridal dress from time to time? No it isn't.
Do you ever find it too expensive to buy clothes?
© 2012 Anti-Valentine