Saving Money on Clothing That Need Alterations

For petite women who find themselves having to get lots of garments altered, costs can add up. First there’s the price of the garment, then you have to factor in the alterations. Next, you want to make sure the garment quality is even worth investing the alterations in, so the garment will probably be on the pricey side to begin with. Many stores keep most (or all) of their petite inventory online, which tacks on the cost of shipping. Add into this equation the smaller store inventories of small sizes, which causes lots of petite women to buy items at full retail price, and it’s easy to see how much extra money petite women end up spending as compared to average sized women, who can often forgo alterations. Therefore, cutting cost corners wherever possible is a plus. Here are some of the ways I get discounts on my clothing, making it a little easier to swallow the alteration costs:  

1. Sign up for e-mail updates from your favorite stores. While they may junk up your inbox, e-mail updates come in handy. You’ll be the first to know about promotions, and sales, so you’ll be the first to get your hands on small sizes at a discount. Online coupon codes are plentiful and handy to save a few bucks on something still selling for full retail. Also, most stores offer a one-time-use free shipping code when you first sign up. I love free shipping!  

2. Store credit card points programs. As long as you pay off your statement in full in month (APR’s on these are incredibly high), these have saved me a lot of money. Banana Republic and Ann Tayloroffer a points program, so that every time you spend a certain amount of money, you get a “Rewards Card” to spend on whatever you like at their store. Banana Republic also offers free shipping to BananaCard holders on orders over $100, and free shipping on every order for BananaLux holders…again…I love free shipping!  

3. Credit card points programs. Again, these are only helpful as long as you pay off your statement in full each month. Credit card points programs like the American Express Membership Rewards, and a whole slew of Visa and bank rewards programs let you accrue points on purchases that you can redeem for gift cards at your favorite stores. I’ve used my points for gift cards at stores like Banana Republic and Saks Fifth Avenue. The way I do this is I pay all my bills and make all the monthly purchases I would normally make (gas, groceries, beauty needs, etc.), on my favorite card, and then pay my balance off in full each month. That way I don’t have to pay interest charges, and I maximize my point accrual. Then when I have enough points, I cash them in for a gift card at the store of my choice, and go shopping, whoohoo!  

4. Look for free shipping codes and promotions. When you’ve found something you’d like to buy, do a quick Internet search for “coupon code” or “free shipping” for the store you want to order from. There are lots of Internet coupon code websites. My favorite coupon site is retailmenot.com.  

5. Wait a few weeks after new merchandise arrives for early season promo and free shipping codes. After new merchandise hits stores, merchants like to let it sit for a few weeks before offering any promotions. I like to peruse the website after I get my e-mail notification that new merchandise has arrived (because I’m signed up for e-mail updates, like I mentioned in #1) and pinpoint anything I’m interested in. Then, after about 3-4 weeks, the first promotion codes start to appear. Once those come, I know what I want to try, find a free shipping code, and snag my small sized item at a discount. If you wait for it to go on sale, chances are your size will be sold out.  

6. Buy less, but invest in what you buy. I used to have a ton of clothes, but was always disappointed when I dug in my closet. I never felt put together, and always felt inadequately dressed when I went places with my taller friends. I would buy things on sale, or because they fit, or almost fit, without really being picky about whether or not I really liked the garment. My closet was full of junk, and I kept wasting my money on it! I decided I needed a wardrobe overhaul and stopped buying junk. Instead, I became really picky about what I bought, and read all fabric content, and took everything in for tailoring that needed it. I purchase less, but pay more for things when I do, so my spending isn’t much higher than what it was before. The confidence this provides is worth the extra money and effort!

Of course there are also the sales, discount stores, and vintage shopping, but I find those to be much less productive ways to spend my shopping time. I’ll find a few gems here and there, but the bulk of my wardrobe is coming from the methods I described above. Anyone else have other ways to save a few bucks? I’d love the tips!

11 Comments

  • Reply September 21, 2009

    l e i g h c i a

    With a good iron and ruler, it's easy to do basic hems by hand. The blind hem stitch is what's most commonly used for pant and skirt hems and often turns out nicer done by hand than by a tailor.

  • Reply September 21, 2009

    Anonymous

    great tips!

  • Reply September 22, 2009

    PerfectJeanie

    Does anyone know from experience what type of free alterations are included with BR's Luxe membership? Also, who does these alterations and how quick is the turnaround? I haven't been able to find any information on this. Thanks in advance : )

  • Reply September 23, 2009

    Zoe

    I thrift and home-alter what I can and have what I can't tailored. I've found great pieces that way and I can afford to have a $3 pair of pants tailored if I can't do it myself.

  • Reply September 23, 2009

    Alterations Needed

    Hi Zoe!

    I can't for the life of me ever find anything while thrifting. I'm glad someone can take advantage of the great thrifting deals.

  • Reply September 24, 2009

    shon

    BR's free alterations are limited to hems – pants and skirts. No sleeves. In my area, the tailor picks up/drops off twice a week, so it's a 3-4 day turnaround.

  • Reply November 15, 2009

    AnnJames

    I know this is a bit late, but I just found your blog and I'm catching up :)

    Definitely use cash back websites… I am a member of 4 different ones and LOVE them. They will typically offer 3-5% cash back and pay you monthly by PayPal. There are referrals on my blog if you're interested! Some of them give you a bonus for signing up too!

    http://life-of-aj.blogspot.com

    LOVE the blog… even as a "tall" petite (5'3") :)

  • Reply November 15, 2009

    Alterations Needed

    Hi AnnJames!
    I'm gonna have to sign up for cash back sites, because a lot of people say good things about them! Can't turn down an opportunity to get some cash back when you can! Thanks for the tip!

  • Reply March 10, 2011

    Natosha Kitten

    I like to suggest KindCoupons.org. It is also a great source of coupon codes and discounts.

  • Reply May 25, 2011

    shon

    BR's free alterations are limited to hems – pants and skirts. No sleeves. In my area, the tailor picks up/drops off twice a week, so it's a 3-4 day turnaround.

  • Reply May 25, 2011

    l e i g h c i a

    With a good iron and ruler, it's easy to do basic hems by hand. The blind hem stitch is what's most commonly used for pant and skirt hems and often turns out nicer done by hand than by a tailor.

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