Javascript is not enabled.

Javascript must be enabled to use this site. Please enable Javascript in your browser and try again.

Skip to content
Content starts here
CLOSE ×

Search

Leaving AARP.org Website

You are now leaving AARP.org and going to a website that is not operated by AARP. A different privacy policy and terms of service will apply.

How to Save Money on Clothes in 2024

Rethink how and where you shop and learn to restyle what’s in your closet


spinner image a woman shopping for clothing on her phone
Alistair Berg/Getty Images

Your New Year’s resolution is zero clothes shopping for 2024? Be realistic. Who isn’t having a post-holiday uh-oh moment? If winter splurges are catching up with you, know you’re not alone. Everyone wants to backpedal their budget, plump up their wallet and stretch their spending dollars in the months ahead — all while maintaining their fashion chops. Here are six ways to minimize the cost of clothes, maximize your looks and save a bundle:

spinner image Adriano Goldschmied 32 Waist Jeans; Madewell Forever Casual Dress Size L; M.M. LaFleur Second Act The Etsuko Dress-Brush Jacquard; Lauren by Ralph Lauren Size 14 Casual Dress; Michael Kors Pre-Loved Maisie Large Logo 3-in-1 Tote Bag
Left to right: Adriano Goldschmied 32 Waist Jeans ($47, thredup.com); Madewell Forever Casual Dress Size L($35, madewellforever.thredup); M.M. LaFleur Second Act The Etsuko Dress-Brush Jacquard ($77, mmlafleur.archiveresale.co); Lauren by Ralph Lauren Size 14 Casual Dress ($56, thredup.com); Michael Kors Pre-Loved Maisie Large Logo 3-in-1 Tote Bag ($139, preloved.michaelkors.com)
thredUP; Madewell Forever; M.M. Second Act; thredUP; Michael Kors Pre-Loved

1. Shop secondhand clothes and accessories.

Call it pre-loved, resale or consignment, but buying gently used merchandise is now a major shopping trend. According to resale giant thredUP, the secondhand apparel market (which includes shoes and accessories) in the U.S. is expected to reach $70 billion by 2027, and that demo includes those 50-plus.

spinner image Image Alt Attribute

AARP Membership— $12 for your first year when you sign up for Automatic Renewal

Get instant access to members-only products and hundreds of discounts, a free second membership, and a subscription to AARP the Magazine.

Join Now

If you’re a newbie to shopping used fashion, realize that the “yuck” factor is gone. No need to sift through stinky bins and racks of stuff; the clothes are freshly cleaned. Plus you’ll be saving money and the planet in a sustainable alternative to the endless cycle of shopping new. Some sites focus on skimpy, sexy clothes for Gen Z and millennials and others emphasize very pricey luxury goods, but giant resale sites like thredUP and Poshmark are very appealing for mature women. They have enormous virtual inventories of stylish mall and department store brands in the mid-tier range and the merchandise is organized by brand, size, item, price, color and design details to simplify browsing.

Where does the stuff come from? It’s a mix of unsold retail inventory (also known as overstock or dead stock), customer returns and previously owned items being sold again on a consignment basis. Also worth a look: smaller brand-specific resale sites like J. Crew Always, Madewell Forever, M.M. LaFleur Second Act, Eileen Fisher Renew and Michael Kors Pre-Loved. On a cautionary note, resale can be exciting so do your budget a favor and put a cap on the amount you’ll spend even before logging in!

spinner image Callahan June Knit Cardigan; Halston Deana Gown; Louis Vuitton Monogram Idylle Elegie Encre Bag; Maeve by Anthropologie The Bettina Tiered Shirt Dress; Veronica Beard Parineti Dickey Jacket
Left to right: Callahan June Knit Cardigan (Nuuly Rent); Halston Deana Gown (Rent the Runway); Louis Vuitton Monogram Idylle Elegie Encre Bag (Vivrelle); Maeve by Anthropologie The Bettina Tiered Shirt Dress (Nuuly Rent); Veronica Beard Parineti Dickey Jacket (Rent the Runway)
Nuuly Rent; Rent the Runway; Vivrelle; Nuuly Rent; Rent the Runway

2. Dress to impress by renting.

It’s not necessary to buy a special one-night-only dress for an occasion, to splurge on a trendy sweater you won’t wear in warm weather or buy a new blazer for a job interview. Check out rental fashion services like Rent the Runway, Armoire and Nuuly that are spot on for mature shoppers; try Vivrelle for those who crave a status-conscious logo bag. The rental concept started with dressy dresses but has expanded to include a broad range of everyday and work-wear clothes from contemporary brands like Diane von Furstenberg, rag & bone, Lilly Pulitzer and Paige. Rental works on a membership-based plan where you choose a price level for access to a specific number of items for a month (though costs vary). Most offer prepaid shipping both ways and take care of laundering before and after. Here’s a sample of pricing: Rent the Runway costs $89 for the first month, $94 a month after that for five items each month; Armoire (armoire.style) sends you four items for $79 a month; and Nuuly starts at $98 a month for six items at a time. And don’t forget the evening wear — you still can rent a spectacular one-shoulder gown or sequined top for less than you ever thought possible.

Shopping & Groceries

Walmart+

$20 off a Walmart+ annual membership

See more Shopping & Groceries offers >
spinner image Anne Cole Classic Square Neck One-Piece Swimsuit in Sage; Tahari ASL Abstract Print Long Sleeve Satin Midi Dress; Cole Haan Minimal Wool Blend Car Coat in Dusty Rose; Ava & Viv Long Sleeve Asymmetrical Cinched Midi Bodycon Dress in Green; Guess Water-Resistant Hooded Quilted Puffer Jacket in Grey
Left to right: Anne Cole Classic Square Neck One-Piece Swimsuit in Sage ($25, tjmaxx.tjx.com); Tahari ASL Abstract Print Long Sleeve Satin Midi Dress ($100, nordstrom.com); Cole Haan Minimal Wool Blend Car Coat in Dusty Rose ($144, saksofffifth.com); Ava & Viv Long Sleeve Asymmetrical Cinched Midi Bodycon Dress in Green ($23, target.com); Guess Water-Resistant Hooded Quilted Puffer Jacket in Grey
T.J.Maxx; Nordstrom; Saks OFF 5TH; Target; Nordstrom Rack

3. Buy offseason items.

Most people have a buy now, wear now attitude and shop for what they’ll wear that very moment. However, shopping during peak season, especially at full price, is expensive. Think ahead. Some of the best bargains are on sale items for future seasons. For example, you can save by going swimsuit- and sandal-shopping in September or by buying a new winter coat and boots at the end of February. This is when retailers, especially outlet and off-price stores, offer deeper discounts on the previous season’s hottest items. It can add up to significant discounts and savings as stores and sites hustle to clean out old inventory. Remember that the trendiest clothes change considerably year to year and sale or clearance items are often not returnable, so avoid regret by choosing styles proven to work for you from past experience. I’m always looking for dresses that wrap and a tailored coat in a soft color, but you may be hunting for ruched one-piece swimsuits or a trimly contoured puffer. Use digital shopping platforms like ShopStyle and Shop It To Me to find the best deals and the lowest prices. They redirect you to discount sites like Nordstrom Rack, Saks Off 5th and T.J. Maxx and regular sites like Target, Nordstrom, Bloomingdale’s for sale and smartly priced items. And yes, you can also jump straight to those sites yourself.

spinner image A person placing a shirt on a hanger onto a clothing rack containing other clothing
Aitor Diago/Getty Images

4. Host a clothing swap.

This affordable and eco-friendly DIY project lets you save money and revive your closet with the help of friends, family, neighbors and colleagues. It also encourages you to clean out your closet and get rid of items you no longer wear. Invite those with similar and very different sizes and personal style. This will increase the chances of finding something you love or are hankering to try or of discovering a new brand or style you might otherwise ignore. Remind guests that only clean items in good shape are acceptable (so no to your stained and pilling yellow sweater and the dress with a broken zipper). No need for a dressing room, suggest guests wear a base that works for public try-ons, like leggings and a bodysuit or tank top. Include a full-length mirror, garment rack and lots of hangers (you can rent these from party rental sites). Someone else’s rejects may become your favorites. Leftovers? You can always donate them to a charity like Goodwill or Dress for Success.

spinner image membership-card-w-shadow-192x134

Get instant access to members-only products and hundreds of discounts, a free second membership, and a subscription to AARP The Magazine.

spinner image Nine West Riner 3 in Platino; Old Navy High-Waisted Pixie Flare Pants for Women in Black Jack; H&M Women Oversized Cotton Shirt in Blue/Striped
Left to right: Nine West Riner 3 in Platino ($51, 6pm.com); Old Navy High-Waisted Pixie Flare Pants for Women in Black Jack ($50, oldnavy.gap.com); H&M Women Oversized Cotton Shirt in Blue/Striped ($27, hm.com/en_us)
6pm; Old Navy; H&M

5. Keep a “wardrobe diet” inventory.

This will prevent you from impulsively buying more T-shirts, dresses and ballet flats when what you need are a blue striped button-down shirt, flared black dress pants and metallic sandals. Post the inventory on your closet wall or door and keep a copy in your everyday bag. Update the list when needed and refer to it when shopping online and in person. Highlight must-buys — it’ll keep you honest — and when about to make a purchase, ask yourself, “When will I wear this and with what?” The more crossover items that offer multi-season, multipurpose and day-to-night wear the better for your budget. Give all potential online purchases a 24-hour period before hitting buy. If the initial passion is over by the following day, it was a fling and not worth it. It’s already gone? Know that you’ll find something better or, as I always say, “It wasn’t meant to be.”

spinner image A woman reaching for a shirt inside her walk in closet at home
Lorado/Getty Images

6. Style up what you already own.

You’re probably not getting maximum mileage from your current wardrobe. Looking good is only 50 percent your clothes; the remaining 50 percent relies on styling tricks like manipulating color and combining pieces in fresh ways. Make this easier by organizing your closet by color instead of items or specific seasons. Hang all your black things together, all your blues and so on. Include prints, stripes and varying tones in each group. Then get creative and remix your outfits. Wear a crew or turtleneck sweater over a dress for a two-piece “skirt and top” effect; belt a boxy or oversize blazer for a shapelier look; tie a colorful sweater at your shoulders instead of a scarf for a flattering pop of color near your face when wearing a monochromatic or neutral outfit. Combine sporty and tailored, casual and dressy pieces. You might pair vintage wash jeans with a silky blouse and fancy flats, or joggers and a “good” cashmere sweater with chunky lug-sole loafers — that’s what makes style contemporary. Casually roll cuffs on buttondowns, then undo the necks to a V and do a half tuck or leave it untucked. And, of course, you can also take favorite long pants and jeans to the tailor for a nip and tuck. A good seamstress can crop them to a flattering ankle length that works with all your flats and sandals.

Discover AARP Members Only Access

Join AARP to Continue

Already a Member?