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10 tips for saving as clothing prices soar

While overall inflation is expected to remain tame this year, one area where it might go wild is clothing, with overall prices expected to rise by 10% or more.

By Stacy Johnson Feb 15, 2011 11:07AM

This post comes from Stacy Johnson at partner site Money Talks News.


According to this recent article from The Associated Press, your clothing bill is about to go up by 10%, with some of the increase happening this spring and the rest by the end of the year.

On an inflation-adjusted basis, overall clothing prices have declined over the past 10 years as lower-cost raw materials and goods from low-labor-cost countries such as China flooded the market. But in recent months, both material and labor costs have been escalating.


In this article from last September, we warned that higher cotton prices would probably start translating into steepening prices for T-shirts and jeans. Cotton has continued to climb since then, recently hitting $1.90 a pound, the highest price since the Civil War. Synthetic materials are also increasing in price.

Materials make up from 20% to 50% of the cost of clothes, and with the worldwide recession abating and inflation climbing in countries such as China and Vietnam, labor costs are heading north, too.

According to The Associated Press, Brooks Brothers dress shirts are now selling for $88, up from $79.50. Levi Strauss, Wrangler, J.C. Penney, Nike and Steve Madden also have price hikes in the pipeline.


What's a shopper to do? First check out the following news story, then meet me on the other side for more.

Saving on clothes

The most obvious solution to offset coming price hikes is to buy less, or shop soon, before prices climb. But if that doesn't work for you, here are some additional tips that might.

  1. Sell what you're not wearing at a consignment shop. This is the single best way to save. Before you buy your next article of clothing, go into your closet and remove everything that you haven't touched for a year. Take it to a consignment shop. Take the stuff it doesn't want to a thrift store so someone else can benefit. When you get cash for your old clothes, use it to buy some pre-worn ones. Hint: When you're selling or buying used clothing, go to the fancy part of town. You know how rich people are; they'll pay more for your stuff and give away theirs when they get bored. This is also true with thrift shopping and estate and garage sales.
  2. Buy out of season: shorts and bikinis in January, coats and sweaters in July.
  3. Don't ever buy anything without checking acoupon search enginefirst. Think of it as an instant savings dispenser attached to your computer.
  4. Check out the boys section. If you're a woman shopping in a department store for something unisex like a T-shirt or sweatshirt, you might find it cheaper in the boys' or men's department. Apparently the sexist pigs who price clothing believe women will pay more for comparable clothes than men. Call 'em on it.
  5. Don't overwash your clothes. It wears them out faster. Avoid dry cleaning if possible, and when you do wash your clothes, avoid dryers. That lint in your dryer screen is made of little pieces of your clothes that get rubbed off. Hanging them on a rack or clothesline is better for them and your electric bill.
  6. Develop a hang-up. How many times have you had to wash otherwise unsoiled clothing just because you threw it in a wad on the floor?
  7. Learn to sew. My mother wouldn't let me leave for college until I'd mastered simple stitchery, like button sewing. Next time you're in a fancy hotel, take the sewing kit.
  8. Trends are not friends. I realize this is easy advice for a man to give. After all, with the exception of fedoras, we're basically still dressing like they did in the 1940s. Nonetheless, even I can tell when a silly trend isn't going to last. Avoid them.
  9. Shop outlet malls, but carefully. Did you know that some labels actually make less expensive, lower-quality goods specifically to sell in their outlet stores? Check out this story I did on outlet shopping.
  10. Use a budget. This is a tip that works for everything. If you plan what you're going to spend, you'll spend what you plan. Going over your budget? See Tip One: It's time to sell some clothes.

More from Money Talks News and MSN Money:

Jul 22, 2011 5:41PM
I saved money by shopping at the thrift stores .I bought my son  big name jeans  for $4.99 each that would have been $100. jeans.  He picks out his own clothes .He spent around $50.00 and got alot of clothes too. He works and has to watch very penny too.You can find name brand.Why pay for clothes when you can get them cheaper at a thrift store.? And they have other items too a lot cheaper too.
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