Top tips for saving on clothes and shoes

Cost of living: Several street shops now run recycling programs and offer vouchers in exchange for old clothes. Photo: Hannah McKay/Reuters

Shopping for clothes and shoes can be considered a luxury in the midst of a cost-of-living crisis, and many are looking to be more frugal when shopping for wardrobe essentials.

But there are still ways to renew your wardrobe without breaking the bank. Here we share some advice from the consumer organization Which? to save money on clothes and shoes, while being more environmentally friendly.

1. Recycle old clothes in exchange for vouchers

Several street shops now run recycling programs and offer vouchers in exchange for old clothes. For example, H&M and Schuh offer £5 to redeem for a £25 store, Marks and Spencer offer the same when you spend £35. New Look is offering 15% off if shoppers donate pre-loved clothes to a hospice charity store.

2. Look for used options

Buying second-hand clothes and shoes is an easy way to save money and doesn’t cost the planet. Expensive brands can often be found for a fraction of the price at charity shops, garage sales, online marketplaces or through apps such as Depop and Vinted. ITV2 the island of love recently opted to partner with eBay and dress competitors in secondhand outfits, rather than cheap fast fashion brands. Shoppers could also sell their old clothes online to offset the cost of buying new ones.

3. Buy children’s shoes

Those with size 5 or smaller feet can buy children’s shoes for less, as children’s clothing and shoes are exempt from VAT. Popular brands such as Adidas, Nike, Converse and Dr Martens offer children’s versions of their most popular styles.

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When which one? checked in June a pair of white Dr Martens 1460 youth boots cost £70 in the children’s section of Schuh and go up to a size 5, but a pair of white 1460 ‘bex’ boots in size 5 sell for £169 £ – a potential saving of £99.

4. Track down discount codes

It’s worth researching discount codes and offers before you shop. Shoppers can often save 10% off their cart by referring a friend or signing up for a newsletter. Coupert and Pouch are free shopping tools that automatically find and apply all available coupons with one click, and apply them to the cart.

Buyers can also benefit from offers by joining a loyalty program. For example, the H&M Club is free to join, offers all members free delivery, and you can collect points with every purchase that can be redeemed for coupons.

5. Weigh the quality over the price

Buying a higher quality item rather than the cheaper option could save money in the long run, as poor quality items usually need to be replaced sooner. However, this does not mean that the most expensive items are always of the best quality. Who? previously tested 20 brands of jeans from 10 of the UK’s biggest clothing retailers to see how the durability of cheap pairs compares to more expensive brands.

The consumer rights body has found that it’s not all about price. A good way to check the quality before buying is to read online reviews. If buyers are unhappy with the quality of the clothes, they may be able to get a refund under the Consumer Rights Act.

6. Try renting clothes

Clothing rental programs have become more popular in recent years. Prices vary, but renting an outfit can be cheaper than buying a new one. For example, dress rental prices at By Rotation start from £9. Other similar sites include My Wardrobe HQ, Hurr and, for children’s clothing, Bundlee. Most apps add a small usage fee, so be sure to check the terms and conditions.

While renting can be a greener alternative to buying something new that you’ll only wear once or twice, dry cleaning and transport have a big environmental impact, so check out what platforms are doing. rental to mitigate them.

seven. Try to “wish”

“Swishing” is the term used for exchanging clothes or shoes with other people. Instead of buying new clothes, it’s worth getting a group of friends or colleagues together to swap out the clothes you no longer want.

8. Maintenance and repair

People often look to replace shoes and clothes that have seen better days, but it’s worth looking for ways to fix them before jumping into replacements. For example, a pair of men’s smart shoes on John Lewis can cost between £70 and £450, depending on the brand and quality of leather – but insoles can be replaced for as little as £30.

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For woolen sweaters that wear out, Amazon sells makeup removers for as little as £5. Haberdashery and tailors may be able to repair broken zippers or tears if you are unable to do so yourself, but prices vary.

9. Wash your clothes less often

Washing your clothes too often could shorten their lifespan and wear them out quickly. Levi’s recommends washing jeans after every 10 wears and says they should be line dried (rather than in a dryer) to preserve the fit and prevent shrinkage. He also says that turning your jeans inside out and hanging them in a shady space will keep them from fading and avoid soggy pockets.

ten. Hang on to old show shoes

Street shoe chains Schuh and Office both have specialty websites that sell discounted, ex-display shoes that may show minor wear. Who? found top brands such as Birkenstock, Adidas and Timberland available. Office Offcuts sells “ends of line, ex-displays and last pairs of shoes” and all stock is new, and Schuh Imperfects says the shoes may have scuffs, discoloration and other “individual quirks.”

11. Make the most of sales

When hunting for bargains in the sales, which one? suggests shoppers set a budget and keep a list of all the particular items they’re looking for and their current price. This means that if they go on sale, buyers will know exactly how much they’ll save and if it really is a bargain. If items are selling out quickly, it may be possible to sign up for restock alerts.

For example, monitors websites such as Amazon and Asos and sends an alert when a particular item is back in stock. It’s also worth checking to see if the retailer has an app or program you can sign up for for early access to the sale. For example, Zara offers shoppers who use its app early access to the sale.

12. Give jeans a second life

Black jeans often fade over time, but shoppers can re-dye them for just £3. Dylon dye pods can be used in the washing machine and cost around £6 on Amazon, while hand dyeing costs around £3 – much cheaper than buying a new pair of jeans. If the jeans are past the re-dyeing stage, they can still be used for other purposes before being thrown away.

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For example, old jeans can be cut into denim shorts or can be handy for crafting around your home.

13. Visit a factory outlet

Factory outlets offer discounted clothing, often from past seasons. It might be worth checking to see if there are any nearby. Many brands now have outlet stores on eBay, offering up to 70% savings on clothing. Brands include Crocs, Sports Direct, Superdry, Office, Joules and Oliver Bonas. Once on the eBay website, simply select “branded outlets” at the top to see what’s available. Popular groups such as ASOS and Mango also have their own online outlets.

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