How to Save Money on Upscale Clothing

If you like to buy designer clothing but don’t have the money to buy much at the major department stores, there are three ways you can save money and still buy the clothing you want.  I’ll start with the least desirable method.

Shop at Thrift Stores

A picture of clothes on a rack in a store.
When you really need nicer clothes and you have limited funds, check out thrift stores and other money-saving options.

You might as well call these “used clothing stores” because that is usually what you find at a thrift store.  These clothes may come from charitable donations, estate sales, and people dumping their old wardrobes.

Old clothing may be wearable for years and if you know how to sew you can buy some old clothes and give them a new look by adding some special touches.

But most people don’t want to wear someone else’s handoffs and I admit that thrift stores are not my favorite place to shop.  When I was a kid my mom used to browse thrift stores for clothing for us kids but I always preferred wearing the cheap clothes from K-mart.

Shop at After-market Discount Stores

This is a very well-known shopping strategy and there is a huge industry built up around it.  The department stores send or sell all their unsold clothing inventory to discount stores like Ross, Marshall’s, TJ Maxx, and Homegoods.  You can buy last season’s fashions at these stores, often for steep discounts.

If you wait long enough you can get some pretty nice merchandise on clearance because even these stores eventually have to make room for new inventory.

The biggest problem with shopping only at the discount stores is that finding the right size or matching pieces can be time-consuming.  You should plan on spending at least half a day browsing these stores for what you want.

Shop at Factory Outlet Malls

Outlet malls have become really popular over the past few years.  The manufacturers who sell their goods in these stores often create lower-end product lines for the outlet malls.  The purses are not quite as fancy, the clothes are maybe just a little less flashy, but you are still getting high quality merchandise.

And the manufacturers sometimes send their unsold retail consignments to the outlet malls instead of to the discount stores.  So you may find great deals on former retail merchandise, especially near the end of the season when unsold products are put on clearance.

But the problem with outlet malls is that most of them are built far away from the major metropolitan areas.  This is because the manufacturers don’t want to compete with their retail outlets for sales.   Outlet malls are hard to get to by intention, not by accident.  You’ll have to plan a day trip with the family or friends if you want to shop at an outlet mall and get enough good deals to make it worth your while.

Buy Clearance Directly from Retail and Manufacturing Websites

Sometimes you can get those great end-of-season bargains by browsing the Websites of the major stores and manufacturers.  If they are selling direct to the public from their Websites you should sign up for their newsletters so that you can be alerted to when the online sales begin.

You may be able to purchase clearance items through the Website that are not available in your local store.