Frugal Friday Tips – Get the Most from Your Closet

by Ryan Yates

No Lion . . . No Witch

Assuming you don’t have a $5000 per month clothing budget like the hosts on What Not to Wear hand out each episode, you could probably use a few useful and creative tips about how to get the most from your closet.

Buying clothes isn’t like going out to eat, you can’t just stop buying new clothes. And let’s face it, as great as the discount clothing stores can be, sometimes you just can’t find what you need.

Let’s take a look at how to keep what you have in the best condition possible.

Care Instructions – Follow Them

Tags aren’t only for displaying sizes. Don’t treat the washing instructions as mere suggestions, that’ll lead to fabric nightmares. Instead, try actually following those instructions. It’s going to help keep your outfits in the best condition possible. Plus, you don’t need to be a rebel all of the time, do you?

Classic Styles are Worth More

A wardrobe full of classic pieces of clothing would be too boring for most people. But if you’re closet has a majority of classic pieces with a few accents thrown in here and there, the combos are almost endless. And you won’t have the price tag that comes with a closet full on the latest trends.

Inside Out

Have you ever noticed that the design on your favorite t-shirt starts to crack and peel over time? If you turn them inside out, there is less stress on the design and it’s won’t stretch and crack as quickly. The same inside out technique can add life to most all of your clothes. You can reduce fuzziness, seam splits, and unraveling threads by turning your clothes inside out.

Repair Instead of Replace

I never knew how expensive toddler shoes could be until I had a toddler of my own. Not just the cost, but the rate at which they wear out adds to the overall expense. We bought our little guy a pair o Velcro strap shoes, and the straps started to pull apart within 2 months. But the shoes still fit perfectly. The solution: I got out my needle and thread and fixed the problem.

You may not be able to fix every clothing issue that arises, but even fixing half of the problems yourself will go a long way in saving you money. Plus, you won’t develop a nasty habit of going on a shopping spree every time a seam splits open.

Stop Throwing Away Clothes

Everyone knows the cost-cutting benefits of hand me downs. But if you have outgrown, or under-grown, some key pieces of your wardrobe, hang on to them for a few months. Weight seems to fluxuate for a lot of people. Don’t completely overhaul your entire closet just because you’ve gained or lost a few inches. You might need some backups later down the line.

Hangers Are the Enemy

I want to talk about a sensitive subject right now – shoulder nipples. Do you have them? You know, those little bumps in the shoulder of your shirts because the corners of the hanger made a permanent impression? They’re the worst! If you’re not careful, hangers can stretch and ever tear your clothes. The next time you hang something in your closet, please, for all of us out here, do it delicately.

Photo By Dvortygirl


Chris March 2, 2012 at

I thought I was the only one that used the term “shoulder nipples” – glad to see I’m not alone!

I’m really late to the party here, but I’m enjoying your site. Looking for motivation for my second round of getting out of debt, now…

JMK March 3, 2012 at

Liked the part about classic styles. I wear a LOT of black basics with various brightly colored jackets, scarves etc. For work I have black loafers, black heels, and heeled boots. I have one black purse. All my jewelry is silver. That’s it. If anything wears out I replace it with a similar item. For evenings and weekends I have yoga pants and capris and 1-2 pairs of jeans. Flipflops and sneakers. Various tshirts and knit tops, and again that’s it. Unless you are a growing child, pregnant, in the process of losing a lot of weight, or do very dirty work, why does any one actually need an official clothing budget? For the bulk of us who work in some sort of office or retail environment, there is really no wear and tear on your clothing. Laundering it is probably the cause of most of the wear. I always chuckle at articles on budgetting that list clothing in there with groceries and gas. Yes is is a variable/discretionary expense but does it need a monthly budget? Really? You actually wear out items on a weekly or monthly basis? For most of us it’s not the case. In reality people either get bored, or they still have the shopping bug and can pass clothes shopping off as a necessity. Other than a pair of socks I haven’t bought clothing for myself in about 18mths. Because I haven’t worn anything out in 18mths. If it’s not broken I don’t fix it. My daughter announced this week that a pair of her pants were too tight. They’ve now gone into the donation box, but I won’t be replacing them because she has several other pairs that do fit her and in 2 months we’ll be into shorts and capris. Again if there is no need, we don’t buy. We’ll reassess her clothing again before school starts in the fall and IF she needs something it will be bought on sale or second hand. My teenaged son alternates between his two favorite pairs of jeans (I finally donated 2 others because he agreed they were a mistake and he’d only wear them in desperation). He has 1 hoodie (all the others were eventually donated like the jeans) and 6-8 tshirts which we replace as they wear out. He’s come to realize that he has a preferred “uniform” and anything that doesn’t fall in that range isn’t going to get worn. Normally we can time the replacement of the kids clothing items to their BDs or Christmas which is fine with them now that they are old enough to care what they wear. Clothing not considered a gift to most preschoolers! Every two years my husband refreshes his work clothing (shirt/tie/dress pants) when his favorite store has a 2 for 1 sale. He buys quality dress shoes and has them resoled as needed and normally gets 4-5 years out of them. On weekends he alternates between his pair of khakis and his pair of jeans. Add in 4-5 golf shirts and a pair of sneakers and he’s done. Again, no replacing until something actually wears out.

I guess my point is that once you figure out what you really need in your life (not the stuff you hope you’ll wear in your fantasy life) clothing becomes a non issue. I don’t budget monthly to buy new towels or shower curtains or kitchen pots. We use what we have until it becomes apparent they need replacing. Then the purchase is made out of the unallocated income that week. We live on ~55-60% of our take home and normally the excess goes weekly to our retirement funds or extra mortgage payments. But if we have to replace shoes and a winter coat one week, there will just be slightly less for the weekly transfer. No extra budgetting required.

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