Fashion & Style

How to dress for less

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Many major brand names and department stores have discount or outlet stores where they sell overstock or out-of-season merchandise at a reduced price
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Find out how to dress your family for less.

We are all aware of the fact that the economy is experiencing a serious downturn, if not a full-blown recession. Most of our monthly bills are fixed, with no wiggle-room: mortgage, utilities, car payment, insurance, etc. There are only a few areas in which we can cut back on spending, like food, entertainment, and clothing. There are many ways that your family can dress for less, as long as you are willing to put in some time and effort.

First of all, never pay full-price. This requires planning ahead, but can be done. Most department stores have several major sales during the year. These sales usually coincide with a seasonal change, when the store is clearing out spring/summer items to make room for fall/winter items, or vice versa. Make sure you know when those sales are. If you're not sure, call the store's customer service counter and ask.

Shop retail discount stores or outlet stores. Many major brand names and department stores have discount or outlet stores where they sell overstock or out-of-season merchandise at a reduced price. You can find everything from lingerie and handbags to ladies' evening wear and business suits for drastically reduced prices.

Don't follow the trends. When you're putting your own wardrobe together, go for clothing items and looks that are never out of style. There's nothing worse than buying that "gotta have it" fluffy blouse, only to have it be out of style before you've worn it twice. Stick to classic looks, and with the proper care, you'll be able to wear your clothes for several years.

Buy a season ahead for your kids. When the spring and summer clothes get marked down usually during the beginning of the summer to make room for back-to-school items buy clothes for next year. Do the same thing when the fall/winter clothes are being marked down. Depending on your child's age and how fast he or she is growing, purchase clothes that are one to three sizes too big. You may not be able to use them next year, but they'll still be new the year after that.

Go online. Online clothes shopping retailers often have online-only sales listed at their web stores. Just make sure that the discount is enough to make any shipping costs negligible. Ebay is also a great place to find gently used to brand-new, never worn clothing, as long as you have the patience to wait through an auction.

Buy second-hand. Many cities have higher-end consignment stores where you can purchase designer brand clothing that is gently used. If you have the patience to sort through a lot of undesirable items, thrift stores are a great bet. I've gotten some like-new winter coats for my kids at our local Habitat for Humanity store. Look for children's consignment stores, too. The one I use allows me to bring my kids' outgrown clothing in to sell for store credit, which I can then use to purchase larger sizes and next season's items.

By using your smarts and planning ahead, it is possible to dress for less and keep more money available in your budget for those other necessary items like food and entertainment.

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