Your money-making expert. Financial journalist, TV and radio personality.
How can you get a new summer wardrobe on a budget?
It’s the time of year where you may be prepping for an upcoming holiday or summer party. We all like to treat ourselves to new clothes here and there, but especially so when we are jetting off abroad or travelling to the coast for some much-needed time away.
As the weather changes, so do the clothes we wear. We pack away our jumpers and fluffy socks and bring out our summer dresses, shorts and polo shirts in preparation for the summertime.
But now, more than ever, saving money is the top of most people’s priorities. This means many of us don’t have the extra money available to buy lots of new clothes or overhaul our whole wardrobe.
But don’t fear – there are plenty of ways to revamp your summer wardrobe without breaking the bank. In many cases, you can even get new clothes for free! One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, after all. Here’s how to get a brand-new summer wardrobe on a budget.
Charity shops can be your best friend. They are one of the best ways to revamp your summer wardrobe on a budget. Charity shops line our high streets, providing us with plenty of amazing goods, both new and second hand. They can be a goldmine when trying to find new clothing on a small budget. You may be surprised at what you can find, too!
Many charity shops sell designer goods for a slither of the price they retail for. Some have vintage sections. Others may have sections where the items are brand new with tags.
The best part of charity shops is that you can get a whole outfit in one place. From your head to your toes, there will be something for you. Whether you are looking for hats, jewellery, shoes, dresses, trousers, skirts, shorts, blouses, dress shirts, suits, coats, cardigans, t-shirts or sportswear, charity shops provide a huge selection of preloved goodies for a fraction of the retail price.
You can also find unique items and one-of-a-kind gems. Some of the items may have been sat in a wardrobe, totally unloved and unworn for many years. They are in amazing condition and in need of a good home.
When going into a charity shop, it is imperative to take the time to look. There will likely be a sea of clothes and accessories to sift through, but it will most certainly be worth it. Don’t rush through the items, rather take your time and look at every rail, rack and shelf. Many people wander into a charity shop, glance around for a moment then decide it’s all flea-ridden tat.
This is not the case. All charity shops clean the items that come to them. They only sell items in decent condition, too. So, take a breath and work your way through the rails. Be patient. It is guaranteed you will find something to revamp your wardrobe, and it won’t cost a bomb!
Now, we admit. Some charity shops have become quite expensive over the years, charging high prices for newer items or items from more expensive brands. But don’t fear – there are still many charity shops out there which charge low amounts of money for the goods they sell. Their aim is not to make a profit, but to sell their items at a reasonable price and raise money for a good cause. Do some research, either by searching online or visiting the charity shops in your area to see which shop best suits your price range.
Many charity shops now have online shops, too. This is the result of reduced footfall on the high street, as well as the Covid-19 pandemic. Make sure to check out the online stores, too!
“I absolutely adore charity shops. Most of my wardrobe is either from charity shops or second hand! I spend time looking through my charity shops, combing through each hanger to see if I can find something I like. On more than one occasion, I have saved an item of clothing from a high street shop online to buy later, only to see something identical in a charity shop.
Just the other day I found a dress in my local charity shop that I have had on my wish list for months. It was the exact brand too! The dress is £17.99 online – I got it for £3.50! I have never been so chuffed. Another amazing find of mine was a pair of brand new Tuffa boots for £4.99. They looked unworn and I bought them thinking they’d be good for winter. I later found out they retail for £65!”
Another way to get some new pieces for your summer wardrobe on a budget is online marketplaces. We have all heard of eBay or Depop. But there are hundreds of online marketplaces where you can buy great second hand and preloved items. At a time where people want to make a little extra cash during the cost-of-living crisis and when sustainability concerns are at a high, secondhand shopping has boomed.
The great thing about the world wide web is, well, it’s wide. Anything you want, you can most likely buy online. Whether it be designer items, high street brands or something weird and wonderful, you can likely find it on a secondhand marketplace.
The downside to buying on secondhand websites, of course, if that you are unable to return items you have bought. Unless the item arrives damaged or not as described, most sites don’t let you return items just because they don’t fit right. Keep this in mind when buying and look for any size specifications on the listing. Many sellers may add measurements to their items to ensure you buy something which correctly fits you. If these aren’t available, ask the seller to measure the item for you.
Similarly, make sure you buy your items through the official website. Never give your card information to anyone online. This protects you in the case of scams or fraudulent activity. For example, very rarely, an item may be listed which does not actually exist – perhaps a secondhand mobile phone. The buyer then pays for the item and they never receive it. Buying through the platform protects your money and ensures you can get your money back should something like this happen.
Scams for items like clothing are rare, but take extra care when buying designer, vintage or rare clothing items online. Check the reviews the seller has received in the past and their seller rating. If you have any concerns, contact the marketplace directly.
Overall, buying preloved clothing from online marketplaces is a great way to go. Not only are you saving good money, but you are reducing your carbon footprint by buying a pre worn item.
“I actually spent over an hour the other day scrolling on Vinted for clothes to wear on my upcoming holiday. I genuinely love buying secondhand. Most of my shoes, especially high heels for special occasions, were bought on eBay. I tend to get them all for less them £10. Plus, some of the have been worn in slightly, so I avoid the fiasco of getting blisters from my new shoes! It’s a win, win. I have saved so much money over the years.
Some of my friends have bought clothing for huge amounts of money and I have seen basically the same, or sometimes the exact item being sold online, secondhand for so much less. Lots of ‘preloved’ items are basically brand new or totally unworn, where people have missed the return period or wore something once for a particular event. I always look on Depop, Vinted or eBay first!”
Boot sales can be an absolute gold mine. People want to sell their preloved items quickly and get rid of their clutter. Although it may be clutter to them, it may be just what you are looking for. Clothes sell for as little as 50 pence. Even clothes which are brand new with tags may be sold for a few pounds.
The thing about boot sales is people want to make quick money and get rid of a big bulk of items in one go. If they try to sell items for too much money, they just won’t sell. So, they go low. You can try and haggle, too!
Many of the items may have been for sale online for months, with no luck being had selling them. Sellers want the items gone quickly, selling them cheap. As with charity shops, you can find amazing and unique items too. You never know what you are going to find.
Be patient and take your time. To find the gems, you often have to rummage. Sometimes sellers hang their items up on rails. Something, they create a jumble sale on the floor, which you have to sift through. But don’t be put off that big pile of loot. Within it may be a pot of gold with your name on it.
Take £20 with you to a boot sale, and you could get five new outfits for summer and have enough left over for a burger from the burger van! Give it a go, and don’t be too quick to turn your nose up at slightly messy stalls.
The downside of boot sales is that the number of traders has grow quickly. These traders sell brand new items of clothing, food and more. Ignore these stalls and head straight for the homegrown sellers. The people who are having clear outs and genuinely want to make a bit of pocket money will sell for very fair prices. You’ll be shocked at the bargains you can bag!
You can find your local boot sale with a simple google search. They tend to take place over the warmer months and at weekends. Some boot sales may take place during the week, however! Bank holidays are also a great time for car boot sales, with some of the biggest car boot sales taking place during this time.
Remember – get to your local boot sale as early as possible to scoop up the best bargains. If you leave it too late, the best buys will be gone by the time you get there. Set your alarm and get up bright and early. You’ll be grateful you did!
“Shopping at boot sales is like going on a treasure hunt – you never know what you will pick up. You can also find amazing second hand bargains at a tiny fraction of the new price!
I found a new with tags Monsoon party dress for £3 – the label said £125! I also found a Karen Millen coat for £2. It was grubby so I gave it a gently wash and it came up perfect. It would have cost £300-400 new!”
Have you ever looked at someone and thought, “Gosh, I wish I had your wardrobe!” or suck a peak at your friend’s wardrobe and wished you had every single item? Why not try clothes swapping?
There are a few ways to go about clothes swapping. You could suggest the idea to your friends and see what they think. If everyone had a clear out of their old clothes, shoes and accessories, you could get together and have a rummage through each other’s pre-loved items. That way, you get new-to-you items and it won’t cost you a thing!
However, this may be hard to organise in a small group and would work better for a larger number of people. Plus, we understand everyone has different clothing and shoe sizes, as well as different styles and preferences.
There is a way around this, however. Thanks to the internet, there are now plenty of websites online where you can swap your items with others. You may be in search of a particular style of jacket, which someone else has. They may be in search for some shoes and like the look of a pair you are offering. Voila – you can swap these items! You get something new and so do they. Plus, you can clear out some of your own preloved items at the same time.
This is also great as you’ll be doing your bit for the environment. Producing new clothes uses up extreme amounts of water, pollutes waterways and produces millions of tonnes of carbon. In fact, fashion production makes up 10% of the globe’s carbon emissions. Swapping clothes means you can add a whole new flare to your wardrobe whilst be carbon neutral. New clothes without the guilt (and the cost to your wallet!).
If you are feeling creative, why not revamp some of the clothing you already have? There are so many ways to add a bit of oomph to clothing you own already. Upcycling is not only a fun and creative pastime but adds new life to your summer wardrobe on a budget.
Firstly, go back to basics. If your favourite blouse or shirt is missing a button and it has put you off wearing it for some time, take the time to sew on a new button instead of discarding the item or buying a new one in its place. Sew up any small rips in the seam of a skirt you like and repair the zip on those old jeans instead of buying a new pair.
These things may take time but stick the telly on and catch up on your favourite shows and movies whilst you do it. These things are also easier than you think. The internet can be your best friend, with plenty of how-to guides and videos describing and showing how to repair buttons, zips and seams.
Making small repairs saves you money, as not only does it save you money compared to buying new items but brings back a once loved piece of clothing into your wardrobe.
There are other ways to upcycle your clothes, which are a bit more fun and creative. Iron-on badges and prints are an easy way to turn a plain t-shirt into a one-of-a-kind groovy piece. Similarly, gems, buttons and even fabric paint can be used to turn your old, boring items into new and exciting clothes which bring back your excitement to wear them.
You can also dye clothes to change their appearance entirely. Fabric dye is readily available at supermarkets, online stores such as Amazon and in DIY stores. Perhaps you have a white t-shirt which has become slightly grey and grubby over time. Don’t bin it! Dye it black. You now have a brand-new t-shirt. The same can be done with faded jeans. Don’t donate them – dye them! You can breathe a new lease of life into old, slightly worn or faded items simply by dyeing them.
For some extra fun, why not try tie-dye? It’s simple. Get a few different colours of dye and create a tie-dye masterpiece. You may already have some white or light-coloured tops, hats, socks or any other clothing item. If not, you can buy low cost plain white tops from charity shops. Youtube channel Highsnobiety has a great video about how to tie dye at home, including three different methods of doing so. You can watch it here.
If you know your way around a sewing machine, you could also think about tweaking your clothes to turn them into an entirely new item. You could slightly shorten the length of skirt, dress or trousers. Perhaps you could cut the sleeves of a long-sleeved shirt or top, sewing the edge to look neat. You could even change the buttons on a shirt, skirt or pair of jeans to something new or edgy.
Do you have any fun ways to revamp your summer wardrobe on a budget? Leave them below!