How to Look Fabulous, Frugally: Part Three

by Kelly · 12 comments

in Living Frugally,Series

So you have learned what kinds of clothes you need as well as the specific garments that make your now streamlined wardrobe go further. Now how to take care of it all?

I don’t buy clothes unless they are machine washable. Not only does dry cleaning cost too much money, but I find taking things to the cleaners and remembering to pick them up is too much of a hassle. When you do wash your clothes, don’t over stuff the washer. Turning the clothes inside out and washing them on as cool a temperature as possible keeps the color fresh longer. And although I hate hanging my clothes out to dry, doing so keeps them in much better shape than tossing them into the dryer.

Not all clothes are machine washable however- make sure to hand wash very delicate items. Truly delicate pieces of clothing are fewer and farther between than you might think however, most stuff can just be tossed into the washing machine in a zippered net bag. And have you heard the one about freezing new pantyhose overnight before you wear it the first time? It really does prevent runs, at least for the first few wearings.

Another frugal way to make your clothes last longer is to make sure that you fit into them. I read a comment recently which said that the commenter was not going to buy any new clothes, only make sure she fit into the ones she already had. I don’t know how practical this strategy is, but I do know that maintaining different wardrobes for different clothing styles takes up more space and costs more money than having one unique selection. This excellent post from Blissfully Domestic talks about how your clothes should fit.

It’s also important to know how to do basic alterations to your clothes. Whether that is hemming pants, replacing a button, or darkening a faded t shirt, a bit of tinkering with your garments can make them last much longer. I have at times gone even further, for example shortening the hem on a man’s dress shirt and adding darts to the front and back to make it into a woman’s dressy blouse. And there’s also the classic move of taking a dress and turning it into a top and skirt.

Taking good care of your clothes makes them last longer. The most frugal tip of all might be to change from your ‘good’ clothes into your ‘house’ clothes when you get home from work. I try to do this as much as possible, saving wear, tear and potential stains on my nice outfits for the grungy ones. If you don’t have to pay to replace your wardrobe, that’s the most frugal tip of all.

How do you take care of your clothes? What are your frugal clothing care tips?

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This is the last in a three part series appearing each Monday. You can read the first two installments here and here. If you’ve enjoyed them, please subscribe!


1 Emma November 10, 2008

How about buying clothes that don’t require ironing? Pros: saves your time and reduces the electricity bill 🙂

Emma´s last blog post..Working mom: get a nervous breakdown or … get a nanny! (part 1)

2 robyn November 10, 2008

i’m learning that if i buy clothes that cost a bit more (ie – from the sale rack at Ann Taylor Loft as opposed to from Walmart), even if it means i have less clothes overall i take better care of them. i’m getting better at finding amazing deals, and the clothes are still well-made and will last longer.

basic alterations have saved me as well!

thanks for the series – all three parts have definitely helped me to pare down my wardrobe, make sure i’ve got items that will go together and can be worn for just about anything, and that the clothes i have will be well taken care of. one less thing to worry about in my quest to simplify my life so i can focus more on others!

robyn´s last blog post..Donate Your Dress

3 Brooke November 10, 2008

Tide Pen!!! If you can get rid of errant stains (pen, food, etc.), it helps to get rid of it as soon as possible.

Brooke´s last blog post..Textbook Excitement!!!

4 Sarah H. November 10, 2008

I totally agree with your point about not buying dry-clean-only clothing! I always check this before making a purchase because I do not want to waste time and money at the dry cleaners. Although just this morning I was going to wash a suit jacket (hand-me-down from my mom) and the tag said dry clean only! I think I might just try to hand wash it.

Ugh, I really need to learn more about making simple clothes alterations… 🙂

Sarah H.´s last blog post..Houseplant Hacks – Four questions to ask yourself before buying a houseplant

5 Kelly November 10, 2008


I heart your comment! I can’t stand ironing- it’s the worst thing ever for me. So I don’t do it, and although I look a little wrinkled from time to time, I’m MUCH happier!

6 Shevy November 10, 2008

Arrgh, I hit “submit” just as the baby kicked the internet connection loose.

Anyway, I was saying that I haven’t changed out of my work clothes since I used to wear skirted suits back in the 80’s. The suits had to be dry cleaned but now I have very little that isn’t washable (whether the label says so or not).

My hubby, on the other hand, always changes out of his work clothes and he irons! He often wears jeans to work but with an ironed dress shirt.

In fact, he ironed the dress I’m wearing right now. I saw that he had the board out and promptly handed him the dress. Otherwise I would have ended up wearing it, unironed, at some point.

(And on a totally different subject, Comment Luv has not been able to find my feed for months, ever since I put the subscription buttons up on my blog.)

7 Emma November 11, 2008


Me too – totally hate ironing. Instead I master the art of buying the kind of clothes that won’t put me through that ironing torture 🙂 “How to Look Fabulous” is a great, I got lots of handy ideas.

8 Kelly November 11, 2008

I have a funny story about the husband ironing clothes. I told my husband before we were married that I don’t iron, and he said that it wasn’t a problem. One day, soon after we were married, he got out the ironing board and a pile of his clothes to iron. I handed him my two items of clothing that needed ironing, and he got all offended. “You don’t iron, so I don’t iron your clothes!” he said. So I replied that I wouldn’t cook his food, wash his clothes, put away his dishes… he ironed my dresses and that was the last time he ironed. We’ll celebrate our seventh wedding anniversary this month.

And you can leave a link anytime you want.

9 Nicki S November 11, 2008

I agree that it's really helpful to know some basic tailoring and mending. I'm only OK at sewing, but I've been able to purchase pants that were WAY too long for me at deep discounts because I knew I could hem them nicely. I've also been able to do basic mending when seams pull apart, buttons fall off, etc. It definitely makes clothing last longer.

Thanks for the tip about the panty hose. I'll definitely try it!

<abbr>Nicki S´s last blog post..Paper Crafts & Giving Back</abbr>

10 Saver Queen November 12, 2008

I agree with all your points and have some more suggestions here….

I never heard about the pantyhose in the freezer thing… I presume you defrost them before you try to put them on, haha… How do you defrost them, anyway? With a blow dryer? Or just let them thaw out?

11 Abigail November 13, 2008

The biggest way I know how to save clothes is not using the dryer, except on sheets, jeans, and possibly towels. This also saves money on dryer fees/electricity fees, obviously.

I grew up in Anchorage, Alaska and in the winter months, heating costs skyrocket. To save electricity (and wear & tear on clothing) my mom used drying racks and hangers and let things air dry. My clothes all lasted forever. You can add years to a shirt’s life if you let it dry naturally.

Currently, I am focusing on losing some weight I put on. I want my clothes to fit comfortably again — not just for aesthetics/ego/health. I don’t want to have to buy new stuff!

Abigail´s last blog post..Ka-ching!

12 Nancy February 2, 2009

I really enjoyed this series. I recently lost 45 lbs. and hope to lose more. This makes for a clothing budget nightmare. My sewing maching, local thrift shops and the book “Altering Women’s Ready- to-Wear” has helped significantly. The author also has a website with some good altering tips on it.

I hope this is helpful also!

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