PBS Kids GO! It's My Life
Spending Smarts: What We Wear

So, where does most of your money go? Chances are, you're wearing it. What better place to start spending smarter than your wardrobe?

First of all, the number one way you can save cash on clothes, shoes, jewelry, and accessories is to-

ESCAPE THE TREND TRAP!

Let's say you buy that "gotta-have-it" pair of sneakers -- the ones that all the coolest kids are wearing -- in January. By March, a completely different kind of footwear is "in," and your expensive sneakers are suddenly "out." Now they're a sign that you're unhip and the money you spent on them is history. What the heck happened?

Here's the truth about some trends:

  • Quality clothing and accessories last a long time. A person could wear a good pair of jeans for a decade, as long as he or she doesn't grow out of them.

  • Clothes companies know this, and they want to make sure you keep buying and buying even if the clothes you already own are just fine.

  • To get you to keep spending, they invent "fashion trends." One year, big baggy pants are in style, so people rush out to buy a pair. The next year, the message is that you aren't cool unless you're wearing tight-fitting pants, so the baggy ones go in the trash even though there's nothing wrong with them.

Here are some ideas for how you can avoid spending big bucks on clothes and accessories that will only be in fashion a short time:

Look for classic styles and brands
Instead of the latest hot new brand, try buying your clothes from brands that have stood the test of time. If a company has been making best-selling quality clothes for many years or decades, their clothes will be less likely to fall out of fashion.

Avoid huge labels
Let's say you buy a shirt with the name of the latest hot clothes company written in huge letters across the front. Later, when that company or designer is no longer trendy, you'll be embarrassed to wear the shirt. Besides-why should you spend money to advertise their clothing?

Follow your own style
Instead of spending cash on what everyone else is wearing, try to just buy what you like. By doing your own thing and not following the crowd, you'll avoid the big price tags that stores slap on to whatever clothes are up-to-the-minute hip.

Don't let clothes define you
You'll probably spend less money on your wardrobe as long as you remember that they're just clothes. Some people are tempted to overspend on clothes because they think that will make them look and feel better, make them more interesting, or help them make friends.

To avoid this kind of thinking, make sure you have plenty of other things in your life-like sports, activities, hobbies, and other things you really care about. If you have lots of stuff to keep you interested, make you happy, and define who you are and what you believe, you won't be tempted to think "Gosh, if I only had that $200 jacket, everything would be so much better!"

Five Ways To Save Money On Clothes and Still Be Stylin'

Escaping the trend trap doesn't mean you can't have a cool wardrobe that you feel comfortable in. Try these tips and tricks:

1) Shop at outlets and discount stores. You could score a great deal on something that you really need or want, and save big bucks compared to ritzy shops and boutiques. Remember: WHAT you buy is much more important than WHERE you buy it.

2) Surf online for great deals. If you see something you love in a store, write down the brand and style names, then ask a family member to help you find it cheaper on the Web. Auction sites can also be full of amazing bargains.

3) Have a Fashion Swap party. Chances are, your friends, siblings, relatives, and others around your age are burning through clothes and accessories at the same lightning speed you are. Host a party and invite people to bring unwanted stuff, then let everyone "go shopping"-for free! (You can donate the leftovers to a charity shop.)

4) Cruise flea markets and craft fairs. There's more at these events than just junky furniture and handmade knick-knacks. Many flea markets include booths selling inexpensive jeans, shoes, and more. A craft fair is the perfect place to find a truly unique t-shirt or piece of jewelry.

5) Get creative! If you or someone in your family is handy or artsy, you can re-create a lot of trendy clothing styles on your own. For instance:

  • Make designs on the computer using photos and downloaded images. Then, print them onto iron-on paper and transfer to t-shirts, sweatshirts, and other items.

  • Go to a bead or craft store and pick up the makings of some unique earrings, bracelets, and necklaces.

  • Use fabric paints to decorate old jeans and other clothes; if you're not artistic, use stencils!

  • Sew patches and other items onto plain clothing.

Crafts like these take time, energy, and planning, of course-but they can be just as much fun as shopping (and much less expensive)!

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