How I afford my clothes

FEBRUARY 10, 2018

Hi everyone! I recently got asked quite few times how I could afford all of my clothes, especially since I am not a professional blogger and since I live on a "beginner" teacher's wage. I thought the subject was really interesting, and it happens that I have quite a lot of tips! I hope this will answer the original question and perhaps give you some ideas on how to afford to get the clothes you like!

Manage your money & set priorities

I think we can all agree: although clothing and accessories are a huge pleasure for some of us, this is definitely not the main and first thing where your money should go. I am extremely strict an precise when it comes to my budget, and I have several bank accounts to help me manage it. So when my monthly wage comes in, I immediately transfer the sum for everyday expenses and our apartment rent. I also immediately transfer a definite sum onto different saving accounts: each has a definite purpose: for buying a house, for our vacations, for our wedding,  a one for emergency, and a special one for my "pleasure" expenses, but I'll come into that later. I think that having separate bank accounts really helps managing money and making sure you never spend on clothing what is meant to pay for your food and rent! The money I'm left with in the end is what I know I can spend as I like, or if I don't find anything I want during the month, this goes back into saving accounts.

Special saving

The idea of setting priorities also comes in the way I buy: should I rather be spending on smaller things now, or saving to increase the amount I could spend on a more important item. This takes quite a lot of patience and can be frustrating. Among all the accounts I have, there is a special one dedicated to it: I try to always put in a little money each month, even if it's only $10. When I have a more definite goal such as a luxury or designer piece, I would calculate how much I should save every month to get it after a certain period of time. 

Never pay full price

One of the best tips I can give you is to never pay full price on an item, the easiest way is to wait for the sales months or the private sales most brands have. I have lately been very rarely buying things full price, only from brands that are quite confidential and don't do sales. For the famous and big stores, such as Zara, Mango, H&M and so on, I always force myself to wait, although it can be extremely frustrating. 

I've started to think this way after I worked at a one of these big clothing shops from a very well known brand, as a student holiday job: I was astonished to see the prices go down to less than a third of their original price during the sales. One of my co-worker who new a little more than I did about the subject explained me that they still did make money, as it actually is illegal for brands in France to loss leader. I felt quite angry at that time to notice that these big brands with several shops in each city could blow their prices so much, no wonder their founders are billionaires. Of course, this does not quite apply to smaller quality brands that don't have massive wholesale prices and that can't make huge profits.

Anyway, since I'm aware of that, I always try to wait. I was kind of afraid to see my favorite items go away before the sales started, but believe me, in 5 years I've been doing that, it only happened once. It's definitely worth the patience! As for higher-end brands, although their prices often don't go that much down, it can still be pretty interesting to wait.
Some brands sometimes also sell previous seasons items at the end of sale month for really good prices, so it's also a good tip to subscribe to newsletters and know when private sales are happening.

Buy pre-loved or on discount sites

Speaking of higher end and designer brands, here are two of my favorite tips: 

Buy from discount sites and get sales prices all year round. I bought two of my favorite designer items (a top from Isabel Marant and a Chloé dress) from The Outnet for insanely low prices. Of course these are items from last seasons but I really don't mind, as long as I love the items!

Get some items pre-loved. I very often buy my higher end clothes from second-hand sites, such as Vinted. It is a lot cheaper, even for pieces that still have the tag attached to them. I sometimes also find items I couldn't afford when they were in store, back when I was a student, so it's pretty nice to eventually get them! It also became a little strategy of mine: If an item's still too expensive for me, even during the sales, I wait for it to be available on second hand sites. It can take a little time though. 
A good tip for buying pre-loved is to reach for new or barely worn items. Don't hesitate to ask for more details and pictures. Most of the pieces I've bought had been never worn, so I've never had a bad surprise! 

Bonus: these sites often do.... sales. You can imagine a further discount on a -70% piece.

Look for seasons

If you're shopping on these second-hand and discount sites, I can sometimes be interesting to look for out-of-season pieces: get summer items during wintertime, and winter items during summertime. The impact is not so impressive though, but I find it still good on some bigger items. 

Buy wisely

A few more rules I follow really help me get the most out of the money I spend in clothing:

  •    I always like to buy quality over quantity. Especially now since I tend to buy clothes on resell sites. 

  • I try to buy items that are as versatile as possible. Before getting any new piece, I try to think about at lest three possible ways to wear it. Is it suitable for most seasons? For cocktail and special occasion dresses, could this be suitable for daytime? The idea is not to get only basic pieces, but to know how to elevate or dress down every item!

  • Trends. That question is still definitely a tricky one, even more for a blogger whose once side of their job is actually to make the link between designers, brands and readers. Should we spend or save on trends? Most of the time, I chose not to spend, or to go for cheaper versions of trends. I once splurged on a trendy piece in light mint color (that was right on trend in 2013!). I wore that thing two times and it's now forgotten somewhere in my wardrobe. Trends can be such a waste of money, so always ask yourself if it's really worth the investment.

  • Take the time to think about items you like. I have created a Pinterest board named "wishlist", where I pin pictures of items I like. When I'm sure I really do love it, I order it. No more clothes waiting for years in my wardrobe with a tag still attached! I also made the decision to immediately send back things I'm not 100% sure about. 

  • Last but not least: Selling your older items. This can make an extra income whenever you like to purchase a new piece, just as emptying your closet. I'm not quite in with that "one in, one out rule", there are too many thing I like! I tend to go through my stuff quite often, and get rid of stuff I don't like anymore.

That's it! I do hope you'll find some helpful tips here, please tell us in the comment if you have some more you'd like to share! :)

Pour mes lectrices françaises, il m'est compliqué d'à chaque fois traduire ces articles pavés, mais dites-moi si cela pose un vraiment problème et je le ferais avec plaisir ;)
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