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How can I stretch my clothing dollar?

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With rising costs everywhere, saving money on clothing can be a challenge. However, there are many tricks you can use to stretch your clothing budget. Consider these tips.

Take advantage of off-season sales. Think ahead to the sizes your children will be in six months to a year or to what you and your spouse will need, and buy during off-season sales using these guidelines: - Buy men’s suits and coats in February, April, November and before Christmas.

- Stock up on children’s clothing after back-to-school sales in October.

- Buy men’s shirts, socks and underwear before Father’s Day in June.

- Buy women’s winter coats and suits in November.

- Buy summer clothing, swimsuits, shoes and sandals during July and August sales.

- Buy cocktail dresses and winter boots in January.

Shop after-Easter sales for children’s clothes, dresses, spring coats and fabrics for home sewing.

- Buy spring sportswear in May.

- Buy ski clothing in August and other sports clothing during July sales.

Save on clothing costs by taking proper care of the clothing you have. Hang and store clothes properly for a longer life. Check in your closet. If you see shirts, pants and jackets crammed together on wire hangers, you are throwing money away. Heavy plastic hangers, hangers shaped for suits and jackets or covered hangers are recommended, depending on the clothing item.

- Wear old, washable clothes for cleaning and repairing tasks.

- Clean, polish and place shoes on shoe trees before storing.

- Take proper care of leather clothing items for lifetime wear.

- Deodorize sneakers. Fill the foot portion of knee high hose with fresh cat litter, tie the ends and place inside sneakers overnight.

Shop for clothing at second hand, “like new” shops and garage sales. Great bargains can be found for those who are willing to look. Check online sales and outlet stores for great deals. Be wary of shipping costs, however, which can offset the money saved. Check eBay for clothing bargains as well. Overstock.com has an auction portion of the Web site which can be a great resource for bargain hunters. Search by your size and favorite brand names. When children are growing, keep boxes of clothing organized by age and gender to save for younger siblings or trade with friends. Women can breathe new life into their wardrobes by updating existing clothing with accessories, belts, earrings, necklaces and scarves. Set aside time to assess your closet and mix and match clothing items. Make a chart if necessary. Then consider carefully what clothing items are necessary to extend your wardrobe. See what needs to be replaced or if there are basics you’re missing, such as tops to go under blazers or shoes that go with everything. Never buy anything just because everyone else is wearing it. Do not fill your closet with clothes you only wear occasionally. Let the balance of your wardrobe be clothing you wear every day. Consider your lifestyle, and re-direct your clothing budget to clothes you will wear frequently. When shopping for a bargain, be sure to check the merchandise carefully. Is it well constructed? Are the seams stitched properly? Are there loose threads? If there is a pattern, does it match at the seams? If a store is selling seconds that are slightly flawed or irregular, there should be a sign or a tag from the manufacturer noting this. If merchandise is marked down, make sure you know why. Check for rips, tears, dirt or make-up smears. If you find a problem that can be easily cleaned or repaired, check with the sales people to see if they will further discount the item. To truly save money on clothing costs, stop buying what you don’t need. This can be the top money saver, especially if you often find yourself saying, “Why did I buy this?”

Posted on 21 Apr 2006

Teresa Hunsaker
Family & Consumer Sciences, Weber County

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