The Full-On Budget Shopping Post

kieranthehuman asked: "I’m sure you get this a lot, but what about for those of us who can’t afford to spend a lot of money clothes.

"I have the worst time passing as androgynous because I have a very curvy body. I am always looking for different clothes or men’s shirts that actually fit me. Any sites that advertise queer clothes are usually so expensive. Where can I find other options besides scrounging and hoping at the thrift store?"

Well kieranthehuman, there’s no easy answer. There’s no one stop solution. Il y a non pas de problème. 

But here are some ideas and tips:

1. Shop the right kind of cheap. Gap, Old Navy, ASOS, outlet stores, H&M's clothes (but NOT accessories), department store sale racks, all good. But don't shop at places that are too cheap, because then you'll just end up spending more money to replace crappy items. I generally avoid Forever 21 and Merona at Target for that reason. If the full retail price seems too good to be true, it's probably going to fall apart. I bought some galoshes from Target a few years ago for $20 and they didn't last 3 months. So go cheap, but not too cheap.

2. Thrift Thrift Thrift! Check out the thrift stores tag for inspiration on how many amazing things you can thrift. For more tips, Putthison has a great article on successful menswear thrifting. The most important thing I took away from it was to not look for anything specific.

3. Take things from you friends and grandparents. You never know what amazing vintage ties your grandfather has that he doesn’t wear anymore, or what delicious lacy tights your ex boyfriend needs to give away. If you go to school, check out whatever your school has for free boxes. Oberlin had a big “free store” at the end of the year where some of my friends used to get their entire wardrobe. Also look at the list for your town. (If you are under 18, talk to your parents or guardians about how to make a freecycle exchange safely.)

4. TAILOR! For curvier people looking at menswear, tailoring is key. Find a shirt that fits in the shoulders, arm length, chest, and hips, and then adjust the torso length, torso width, or arm width as necessary. I’ve gotten amazing button-ups at Goodwill for $5 and then tailored them for $10. $15 for a really nice fitted shirt to me is a good deal. Some people with wide hips who want a more fitted look will prefer bringing the sides of the shirt in at the waist and back out at the hips. A lot of the queer clothing designers do this. See this post for more info on that particular type of tailoring.

More tailoring help:

Equally Wed’s Dress Shirt Guide: Measurements (by Yours Truly)

Pants: Creating a Slim Look in a Plus Size

Tailoring Men’s Button-ups for Larger Chests

5. Become friends with the people who work at Gap, and then use their employee discount.



6. Make a shopping list. Write down what you need, and then strategize when you will be able to afford each thing. I don’t do this, and look what happened to me. Every time I walk down Boylston street, I leave with a new pair of shoes.

7. Splurging can be a good thing. Sometimes you may fall in love with something that you weren’t intending on getting. If it goes with your wardrobe, GET IT. I can’t even tell you how many impulse buys of mine turned out to be my favorite things to wear. The key is to have LESS CLOTHES but ones that you love. So don’t be afraid to go with your gut instinct. On the other end, don’t buy things you don’t love just because they are cheap. You think you’re saving money, but you’re really just throwing it away on something you aren’t really going to wear.

8. Browse. Especially if you enjoy shopping anyway, browsing can be great for finding unexpected amazing things on sale, getting to know the market better, and brainstorming about what you want to add to your wardrobe in the future. I spend about 90% of my shopping time browsing without anything particular in mind. But then again, I’m a shopaholic:



9. Know when the sales happen. If you try something in stores, check the online site to see deals.Sign up for your favorite stores’ mailing lists for insider coupon info. Shop on the off season if you’re confident you’ll still love that item in a few months. Kinowear recommends googling “name of online store” + coupon code before buying anything online. They say that a great promo / coupon code site is:

10. Clear out your closet/ Sell things you don’t wear anymore.Ebay, Craigslist, Buffalo Exchange, Second Time Around. Or even just posting things on your blog for sale. Clearing out your closet is also a good way to remind yourself of what you have that you DO wear, and you’ll have an easier time filling in the gaps.


Thomas’ closet floor, Indiana, 2010

Cover photo source: