Bust your clothing budget

Last updated 05:00 09/02/2014
Second-hand stores
BRUCE MERCER/Fairfax NZ

RECYCLE BOUTIQUE: Second-hand stores are a great way to find stylish clothes at reasonable prices.

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Ready to cut your clothing spending in half once again? Last week we introduced the $1 per wear rule, where you're not allowed to buy a $50 shirt unless you're going to wear it at least 50 times.

No matter how many readers tune into this humble column, there are far, far more out there who are stuck spending half their pay packet on glad rags.

That's actually great news for the rest of us, because we're going to take advantage of their bad habits.

Second-hand clothing might conjure up images of food stains, sweaty armpits and various other bodily fluids, but there's no need to wrinkle up your nose.

The truth is that lots of second-hand clothes get sold for precisely the reason that they're never worn.

We're not buying smelly, worn-out rags, but the drunken online purchases and impulse buys of our non-enlightened fellow consumers.

Last week we rubbished the idea of buying a flashy designer jacket for $300, at a cost of maybe $30 for each time it gets worn.

Instead, let some other sucker pay for it. Just like buying a car, the moment it leaves the rack, its value plummets.

If you buy the same jacket second hand for $100, wear it a dozen times and then sell it on again for $50, your cost per wear has reduced to $5. That's still unbridled insanity by strict Budget Buster standards, but far less stupid than the alternative.

So where to go to unearth these bargains?

Stay away from the Vintage stores and trendy Op Shops if you're looking for value - they're simply an "opportunity" to sell you your granddad's holey cardigan at a 300 per cent markup.

While you won't find much high fashion and need to tolerate the smell of mothballs, there are a few gems hidden away in smaller charity shops like the Hospice, Salvation Army and SPCA.

The OpShopDirectory.co.nz lists more than 100 op shop locations in Auckland alone, so there's bound to be one or two in your neighbourhood.

But far and away the best clothing store in the country is Trade Me. At the time of writing, there were a staggering 315,527 articles of clothing listed for sale - catering to every possible shape, size and taste.

It's such an enormous range that you can often grab a sneaky bargain on auctions that no-one else has even noticed. The downside is you can't try the clothing on, but at least you can just resell it if you were a bit optimistic about squeezing into a size eight.

For bonus points, learn to use a needle and thread, and you take your savings to the next level.

I spied a brand-new Versace shirt in a K Road op-shop, marked down to $20 because a button was missing. Some poor fool had discarded it, perhaps not realising that there was a spare tucked under the bottom hem, which I stitched on in a couple of minutes.

Always remember - other people's mistakes, laziness and greed can be golden opportunities for you to save big time.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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