15 Clothes Shopping Tips for Men on a Budget


So, your budget is tight but your style is not. If you’re not used to spending money on men’s clothing, it can be a tall order to drop a paycheck on new garments.

Luckily for you frugal few, I’m going to give you some ways you can save both time and money on your shopping excursions, both short and long term.

1. Shop for clothes in-store.

This is counter to what a lot of people will tell you about saving money. You should only shop for clothing online when you're getting a much better deal, or you're trying to purchase a rare item. Shopping in the store is always preferable. You get to feel the fabric, see how it fits in real time, and how it moves on you. It saves you a lot on returns, wasted time, and restocking fees.

2. Save your receipts.

Sometimes, you’ll realize you don’t need an item or that it just doesn’t pair well with your stuff once you bring it home. Even if you already took the tags off, most stores will at least give you credit.

3. Know when to ignore store associates.

Sometimes the salespeople in a store are a great help. They can give you feedback on the items you’re trying, let you know about any sales or promotions, and check their back stock if you can’t find a size. However, these people work usually work on commission and often it will show.

Don’t let them pressure you into any items no matter how good they tell you it looks. It’s much better to have a trusted source along with you to help. You know what you’re in the store for. Let them help if needed. Otherwise, make your own purchases.

4. Don’t shop for “Fashion”.

Don’t jump on the trend carousel. Always focus on pieces that are timeless and that play well with others. This will save you money season after season.

5. Wait for a holiday.

Retailers love an excuse for a sale. On nearly any holiday, you'll find stores that are having some promotional deal. It isn’t necessary to always wait, but try to save your bulk shopping trips until then.

6. Know what you need.

Have you ever gone into the grocery store without a list and returned with everything you didn’t need? Same idea here. This is a strong case for a minimal closet. If you can say “I’m missing X and Y” you know exactly what you’re looking for and you’ll spend time acquiring the perfect item to fill that void.

7. Buy the best you can afford.

No matter your budget, you can get great clothing. When I was a broke college boy, I would save up for a pricier pair of boots or jacket, rather than blow it all on a haul from H&M. Whenever I bought an item I waited for, I truly loved it. I took care of it. I looked good in it.

Whatever your level of income, you should be purchasing the level of quality you can afford. One of my personal favorite bloggers, George Hahn, has a take on this here, presented more eloquently than mine.

8. If there is nothing you like, leave.

Too many people make purchases just because they like the store and feel obligated once they’re inside. Don’t spend money on an item unless you love or need it. Just walk out, no one cares.

9. Shop for particular items out of season.

Coats are cheap in the summer. Swim shorts are cheap in the winter. Granted there will be less of a selection when you shop out of season, but you can save a good deal of cash if you find the right item out of season.

10. Sign up for promotions with a separate email address.

Stores will send out a lot of promo codes and notify you of any upcoming sales. If you're going shopping, you can go search through this email inbox and find something to save you money.

11. Shop during seasonal change.

At the end of each season, retailers will be making room for new items so they'll cut the prices on previous seasons stock.

12. Go to a consignment store.

Consignment stores are fantastic for finding brand names at a discount price. Try to find high ticket items here like coats and jeans. You can get a t-shirt anywhere. Bonus point if you have some items you can sell. They’ll give you an option for store credit, saving you even more money.

13. Avoid weekends.

When I'm working with clients, I prefer taking them out on a weekday, unless there’s a sale. The busiest time for retailers is on the weekends from 12 pm - 4 pm. Outside of this time, the store associates are able to help you, the stock will be replenished, and you can easily find a dressing room. Try to avoid that window if possible.

14. Buy generic basics.

I buy a lot of t-shirts from Uniqlo. I don’t need anything other than a good build quality in a good fit. I then will pair that tee with one higher-end items. It’s all about mixing and matching. I personally buy underwear, socks, most tees and work out gear from “generic” stores that provide solid build quality like Uniqlo.

15. Take care of your stuff.

Seriously. Quality items will last a lifetime with proper care. Start with learning how to do laundry the right way.

If you have another way that you save time and money buying your clothing, I’d love to hear it below in the comments.

If you want more personalized help with your shopping and your style, you’re in the right place. I’ve been working one on one with men for years to help them nail their personal style. If you want straightforward advice and a fresh take, start here.