Now that I’ve officially begun my debt payoff journey, being intentional about how I spend my money is crucial. To be honest, I never budgeted before. Shopping on a budget isn’t something I’ve typically done. When it came to spending, I never set firm limits for things like food, clothing, etc.
So when I wanted to get new work clothes, I knew I needed to change my approach. I love fashion and clothing. If money were no object, I’d have huge shopping hauls every week. But that’s not feasible right now so I allowed myself $100 to get the job done.
Because I was clothes shopping on a budget, I set some ground rules:
- Spend no more than $100
- Buy items that are either on sale or clearance
- Buy work-appropriate clothes only
- Get at least two pairs of work pants (I have like, 12 pairs of jeans and 4 solid work pants so I needed to up my ratio)
My favorite place to go when I need new clothes? The outlets! Buying quality clothes is easy there, plus there’s tons of sales. It was a super nice day out, so Mike and I got our exercise in.
First Store: Old Navy
Old Navy is my go-to whenever I need new clothes. Fun fact: I used to work at Old Navy for four years, so it’s basically like a second home. While I don’t miss working in retail, I do miss that store discount (50% off!!). Now I have to be more selective when I go so I don’t blow my money.
It’s hard to walk by their new arrivals but I beelined to the clearance section. I know that new batches of items get clearanced each week, so I was happy with the inventory that was out.
I always pick up an abundance of clothes to try on knowing damn well that at least half won’t be a winner. Today was no different.
After trying everything on, I walked away with three items from clearance plus one tank I picked up as I was walking to checkout.
- Ankle-length teal Pixie pants – $8.99 (clearance)
- “Seriously Good” tee – $4.99 (clearance)
- Short-sleeved pink button-up eyelet blouse – $12.49 (clearance)
- Black square-neck ribbed tank – $4 (on sale)
Total spent: $30.47
Second Store: Loft
I love Loft’s work pants! I have two of them in the Marisa fit. But I’m not a huge fan of Loft’s prices. While the quality is great, I don’t always like the idea of dropping $50+ on a new pair of pants. Even at the outlets, their prices can still be steep, so it was clearance I set my eyes on.
Knowing I needed more work pants, I combed through their clearance inventory before finding a pair of gray linen pants. Not wanting to go into the fitting room without a full outfit, I pulled together two tops.
I LOVED the pants! While the peachy shirt I tried on was cute, I wasn’t totally in love with it, and figured that was $10 I could save for another store. I didn’t even bother with the purple shirt. I purchased the pants and off we went.
- Grey tie-waist lien pants – $19.99 (clearance)
Total spent: $19.99
Third Store: White House Black Market
I’ve never bought a single thing from White House Black Market before and today was not the day I started. After walking in, I walked right out. None of the clothes stood out to me. The prices seemed too high (even if they were discounted). Nope. Off we went. Sorry, WHBM.
Fourth Store: Banana Republic
Banana’s basically my holy grail when it comes to work clothes. Their BR outlet is seriously the best. EVERYTHING was discounted – a lot of things were 50% off and more. AND THEIR CLEARANCE SALE WAS 50% OFF THE CLEARANCE PRICE.
Their clearance section was smaller and felt a little picked through, but I still found some gems to try on. I loaded up and headed to the fitting room.
I was so happy with these finds. I ended up purchasing that same top but in navy which was cheaper! That dress was an awesome find because who doesn’t love a dress with pockets?! The fabric is thick enough where I don’t have to worry about panty lines (lady probs) and it’s perfect for a casual Friday at work or hanging out on the weekends. SCORE.
- Navy twisted-sleeved blouse – $13.49 (clearance)
- Tie-waist Chino crop pant – $20.98 (clearance)
- White and navy t-shirt dress – $14.99 (on sale)
Total spent: $49.46
Clothes Shopping Summary
Four stores later, I ended up with:
- Three pants
- Four tops
- One dress
All for a total of $99.92! I came in $0.08 under budget. YAY! I can’t tell you the last time I left a shopping spree feeling proud of myself. I set a budget, and challenged myself to stick to it. I felt good heading home knowing everything I bought was intentional and would keep me on track financially. Plus, getting new clothes is always euphoric for me.
Tips for Clothes Shopping on a Budget:
- First and foremost, set a budget for yourself. I’m not ashamed to say in the past, I’ve taken for granted how quickly my bill runs up after a few stores. You don’t want to look at your bank account the next day in dread.
- Have a rough idea of what you’ll want to buy. For this trip, I knew I needed work clothes. That meant I avoided looking at athleisure or everyday clothes I normally buy so I wouldn’t tempt myself. Having some idea of what to buy helps narrow down your focus and makes it easier to keep your eye on the prize.
- Search for any available coupons online before you go. I know Old Navy does this. On their website, they’ll usually have some assortment of promotions and often, they’ll have coupon codes that work in-store (typically 15% off a purchase of $50 or more). Before you head to your store(s) of choice, check out their websites for any promos going on.
- Think of your clothing as an investment. I love clothes I can wear season after season. Try avoiding items that you’ll only see yourself keeping around for a few months and chucking. I’ve done that and it sucks. I always feel guilty about wasting the money. Looking at your clothing like it’s an investment to your personal style helps narrow down the items you’ll really want to buy.
- If you don’t love it, don’t buy it. Every time I’ve bought something I only liked, I’ve always had buyers remorse. If you don’t love something – I’m talking you have anxiety leaving it in the fitting room and not taking it with you for purchase – then it’s not meant to be bought. Those are the items that typically end up being my statement pieces I wear season after season (see above), and I’m so happy I got them.
Ballin’ on a budget never looked so good.
How do you clothes shop on a budget? Let us know in the comments!