This time of year, every clothing store seems to have some sort of "New Year, New You" promotion. Giving your work wardrobe a refresh early in the year is a great idea — unless you're still trying to pay down the credit card debt you racked up over Christmas.
But if you're in desperate need of work-appropriate clothes to start out the new year, there are ways to update your closet without overextending your budget. You already know to shop the clearance rack and check your weekly store fliers for deals, but we have some additional tips you might have overlooked.
Here are five quick suggestions for finding a new work wardrobe for less.
Tailor Your Existing Clothes
Are you in need of new work clothes because of weight change or pregnancy? You may find it's cheaper to tailor or alter your current work wardrobe, rather than purchase new pieces. If you expect that your current clothing size is temporary — for example, if you plan to lose more weight, or are only in your second trimester — tailoring can be an especially smart choice..
If you're skilled with a needle and thread, then you're really only out the cost of materials. If you lack that particular skill set, finding a tailor or seamstress in your area is as easy as searching your local yellow pages or Yelp. A lot of tailors can be flexible with their rates, particularly if you are offering them a lot of work. Don't be afraid to ask for a bulk discount!
Leverage Referral Programs
If you need new clothes for work, one way to save money is by leveraging referral programs. Many retailers offer account credit when you get friends and family to make a purchase.
For example, I'm a big fan of Stitch Fix, a company that will send you a curated box of fashions in your size once a month — or however often you'd like. If a friend uses your referral link to sign up, you'll get a $25 account credit when her first order ships. In addition, if you buy every item included in your "fix," you'll get 25% off your entire order. Jessica London and Zulily have comparable refer-a-friend programs.
A similar tactic would be to leverage affiliate program links, and use the revenue to finance your new wardrobe. This is a particularly smart option if you have a blog that generates a decent amount of traffic.
Go to Goodwill
Goodwill, Savers, The Salvation Army, and other thrift stores are a great resource for bargain hunters. Some locations offer gently used fashions, as well as brand new clothing. These types of stores are especially nice for those who enjoy customizing their clothes with their sewing skills, or for those who love vintage styles.
If you're a woman seeking out used clothing that will look on-trend for spring 2016, look for thrift store pieces that have a Victorian or '70s vibe. Think high necks, flowing silhouettes, lace, and bold sleeves.
Hunt Down Coupon Codes
Shopping for clothes online already means you're likely to pay less than retail, but you can oftencompound your savings with online promo codes. I never buy anything online without doing a cursory search for current coupon codes. Sometimes you might come up empty, but it's always worth the 10 seconds it takes to Google something like "JCPenney coupon code."
Being on a clothing company's mailing list means you'll know in advance about flash sales or clearance events.
A quick Google search can often turn up any codes that might be out there, and we'd alsorecommend checking DealNews, of course, to see current offers that might be relevant to what's already in your shopping cart.
It's often worth signing up for the mailing lists of specific clothing companies, too, since many of them offer a coupon code for free shipping, or a small percentage off your first order after you confirm your subscription. Plus, being on the mailing list means you'll know in advance about flash sales or clearance events.
Check Out Dress for Success or Career Gear
Are you out of work, broke, and looking for job interview clothes? Local chapters of charities such as Dress for Success or Career Gear can provide you with interview-appropriate attire, as well as image consulting.
Currently making a comfortable living, but still want to save some money? Think about donating to these charities by cleaning out your own closet. You'll make room for your new purchases, and you may even be able to write off the value of your donated clothing on your next tax return. And then, you could consider using those tax savings toward your next round of clothing purchases.
Readers, have you bought a new work wardrobe recently? How do you keep on-trend with work attire, but still stay on budget? Share your tips in the comments below!