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7 Mar 2022

15 ways to save money on clothes and shoes

Our poll found 80% of people spend under £30 on clothes every month
A woman shopping at a second hand store

The cost of clothes and shoes is rising even faster than other consumer goods, making it even more important that you stay budget-savvy when you're updating your wardrobe.

Inflation rose to 5.5% in January, according to the ONS, but clothes and shoes were up even more, costing 6.3% more than the same month last year.

When Which? ran a Twitter poll, the vast majority (80%) of the 166 respondents said they usually spend under £30 on clothes each month, while 16% spent between £30 and £100.

So if you're similarly budget-conscious, how can you keep yourclothes spending down despite rapidly rising prices? Read on for 15 expert tips on how to save money on your shoes and clothes.

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15 top tips to cut the cost of your clothing bill

1) Buy children's shoes (for yourself)

Many big brands including Adidas, Nike, Converse and Dr Martens do children's versions of their most popular styles.

You don't pay VAT on children's clothes or shoes, so there are great savings to be made if you're a size 5 or under.

For example, a pair of Dr Martens 1460 youth white boots are £70 on the children's section of Schuh and go up to a size 5, but a pair of white 1460 'bex' boots in a size 5 retails at £159 - so you could potentially make a saving of £89.

2) Recycle old clothes for vouchers

These schemes all reward you for recycling old clothes:

  • H&M - receive a £5 voucher (to be redeemed against a £25 shop) if you recycle a bag of unwanted clothes or textiles from any store in any condition at a branch of H&M.
  • Marks and Spencer - receive a £5 voucher (to be redeemed against a £35 shop) if you donate items to Oxfam (either clothing or soft furnishings). They must not be damaged or soiled as clothes will be resold. You can also donate items in M&S stores under the retailer's 'Shwop' scheme - you won't get a voucher but Sparks members will get a free treat if they scan the QR code on the donation box.
  • New Look - take good-quality, pre-loved fashion to a hospice charity shop (find them here), scan the QR code on the counter and receive 15% off your next shop at New Look.
  • Schuh - receive a £5 voucher (to be redeemed against a £25 spend) when you bring an old pair of shoes (any brand).
  • Sweaty Betty - receive a £10 voucher (to be redeemed against a £50 spend) when you recycle an old pair of leggings (any brand) to the store, can also be done online.

3) Try swishing

'Swishing' means swapping items of clothing or footwear with other people.

It works best if you arrange a 'swishing party', where you can lay out all the clothes you're willing to swap and eye up anything that has caught your eye.

Even if you're not the same size as your friends, it can work really well for children's clothes.

4) Buy second-hand clothes

Buying second-hand clothes is an obvious way to save money - we've rounded up the best ways to buy them.

Where to buyBenefitsDrawbacks
Car boot salesYou can haggle on price and check quality before purchasing.They start very early and are held outside so can be wet and windy. No refunds. You may have to pay an entry fee.
Charity shopsAll the money goes to charity to support good causes.Can't guarantee the item you're searching for will be there.
Depop appYou can search for specific items and haggle on price. All sales made via the Depop BUY button are covered by seller protection.Can't view the quality of the item before buying. You'll often have to pay for delivery.
eBayYou can search for specific items and bid, which means you could get a great deal, or sometimes 'buy it now' if you're in a hurry. Protected by eBay money back guarantee.Can't view the quality of the item before buying and will often have to pay for delivery.
Facebook MarketplaceYou can search for specific items and pick up for free if the seller's local.Local transactions aren't covered by purchase protection so any refund would be at the seller's discretion.
Vinted appYou can search for specific items and haggle on price. All purchases have buyer protection.Can't view the quality of the item before buying and you'll often have to pay for delivery. You have to pay for buyer protection, costing 3-8% of the item price plus 30-80p.

5) Hunt down discount codes

Discount code

You can often save 10% just by referring a friend or signing up to a newsletter.

Coupert and Pouch are free shopping tools that offer to automatically find and apply every voucher available in one click, and apply them to your basket.

You can also get offers by signing up to a loyalty programme. For example, the H&M club is free to join, gives all members free delivery and you can build up points for every purchase which eventually leads to money-off vouchers.

6) Consider quality

Getting value for money doesn't always mean going for the cheapest option. You may have to spend a little extra for a higher-quality item in order to save in the long run. However, that's not to say that the most expensive items are always the best quality.

We tested 20 brands of jeans from 10 of the UK's biggest clothes retailers to see how cheap pairs stacked up against more pricer brands when it comes to durability. We found it didn't all depend on price.

A good way to check the quality before buying is to read the reviews and remember that if you are unhappy with the quality of clothes, you may be able to get a refund under the consumer rights act.

7) Rent clothes

Toluwa Akindele-Ajani from Essex saved £1,384 by renting rather than buying clothes in 2021 - it's ideal if you need something to wear for a one-off occasion.

The 29 year old told Which? she started using the By Rotation app after learning about the harmful impact of fast fashion, and now rents out her own clothes as well to make money.

Toluwa Akindele-Ajani

She said: 'I was looking for ways to consume less. Once I realised I didn't need to own everything I wore, I jumped right in.'

Renting a dress from By Rotation costs from £9. The minimum rental period can be as low as one day and the app charges 15% commission. You can also rent skiwear.

Other, similar sites include My Wardrobe HQ, Hurr and, for children's clothes, Bundlee.

8) Care and repair

If your smart shoes have seen better days, consider taking them to the cobbler before buying a new pair.

A pair of men's smart shoes on John Lewis can cost anything from £70 to £450 depending on the brand and quality of leather, but you could replace the soles for as little as £30.

And you can buy a jumper debobbler for as little as £5 on Amazon to make your wool jumpers look new.

9) Wash your clothes less often

Washing your clothes too often could shorten their lifespan and wear them out quickly.

Levi's advises jeans be washed every 10 wears, and says they should be dried on a line (rather than a tumble dryer) to preserve the fit and avoid them shrinking.

It also says turning your jeans inside out and hanging them in a shady space will prevent them from fading and avoid soggy pockets.

10) Snap up display shoes

High street shoe chains Schuh and Office both have specialist websites which sell reduced, ex-display shoes that may have minor wear-and-tear - and you can get big brands including Birkenstock, Adidas, Timberland.

Office Offcuts sells 'end of line, ex-display and last pairs of shoes' and all stock is new, and Schuh Imperfects says shoes may have scuffs, discolouration and other 'individual quirks'.

11) Get the most out of the sales

The best way to approach sales season is to set a budget and make a list of any particular items you want and their current price - you could save them in your online shopping basket or take pictures in the store. This means if they go on sale, you will know exactly how much you will be saving, and whether it's really a bargain.

If something goes before you get the chance to snap it up, you may be able to turn on a back in stock alert - for example, BackInStockAlerts.com will keep an eye on the likes of Amazon, Asos and Boohoo for you.

You may also be able to sign up for early access to discounts. For example, Zara offers shoppers that use its app first dibbs at the sale.

12) Give jeans a new lease of life

Black jeans are notorious for fading, but you can re-dye them for as little as £3.

You can buy Dylon pods of dye for your washing machine for around £6 on Amazon, or £3 for hand dye - this is much cheaper than buying a new pair of jeans.

If your jeans are beyond the stage of re-dyeing, they can still be used for other purposes before being thrown out. For example, old jeans can be cut into denim shorts, and can be handy for doing DIY around your home.

13) Max out on cashback

You can earn money back on purchases if you choose to make them using a cashback credit card. Just remember to pay back your full balance each month to avoid cashback gains being wiped out by interest charges.

It's also worth checking your credit or debit card provider's app to see if it offers any specific cashback deals on a service you want.

Cashback sites such as Quidco and TopCashback can also be lucrative.You can currently get up to 10% cashback at Very and Matalan via Quidco, and up to 12% on Asos, 15% at M&S and 15% at JD Sports on TopCashback.

14) Visit an outlet store

Even if you don't have any bricks-and-mortar outlet stores near you, many brands have outlet stores on eBay, where you can save up to 70% on clothes.

Brands include Crocs, Sports Direct, Superdry, Office, Joules, Oliver Bonas. Once on the eBay website, just select brand outlets at the top to see what is available.

15) Haggle if the item has a fault

If you notice a missing button or stain on the item you want to buy, you might be able to haggle to get the price down.

The worst that can happen is they say no, and if they do, would you really want to be paying full price for something which is faulty? Buttons can easily be resewn on and stains can be removed - depending on how severe it looks in the store.

Watch out though - many shops will only offer a discount on the basis that you can't return the item if you change your mind.

Get help with the rising cost of living

Households across the UK are struggling right now with the rising cost of living.

Which? is dedicated to offering tips and advice on how to cut the cost of your household bills and make the most of your money.