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Updating your winter wardrobe

Updating your winter wardrobe with either new purchases or pre-loved clothing and accessories are your two main options. You may not need to every year but I find that there's at least one or two items that need replacing from one winter season to the next.

Retail clothing stores start introducing fall and winter clothing in the middle to late summer. It just seems quite strange to do this when it's 80F or 30C outside and the last thing you want to think about is snow, although thinking about cooler temperatures might appeal to you if it's hot and humid outside.

For me, I have a hard time seeing this at the time but from a merchandizing point of view, it makes sense to be 3 months or more ahead of the current season. It's a timely reminder that the fall and winter will be coming soon enough.

Buying new - Store sales

Updating your winter wardrobe can be costly, particularly for big ticket items like winter coats, jackets and boots. Winter clothing costs more to produce so watching for the pre or post season sales will get you some pretty good deals. And we all like getting deals!

Buying better quality winter clothing at a sale price will definitely make your clothing budget go further too. They should also last several seasons with regular care. Keeping clothing and boots in good repair will also extend their life - always a smart move.

Quick guide to retail store sales:

The retail store sales cycle goes something like this:

  • August/September - New winter season fashions are sold at full price (mostly unless there's a particular special on at a store) for the next winter
  • January sales - Current winter fashions are sold on sale or even more heavily discounted to clear merchandise in preparation for the spring and summer fashions to follow.
  • March/April - Rock bottom clearances where you find them.

Pre-loved winter clothing

If updating your winter wardrobe by buying new is a strain on your budget then there are some other options to consider like checking out second-hand clothing stores, consignment stores and other non-profit clothing stores in your area.

Same as in regular clothing stores, prices vary according to season and sales times. There's no seasonal sale cycle either so in the middle of summer, you can find a winter jacket if you need to.


  • Low cost
  • Available all year
  • Seasonal sales.


  • Pre-worn
  • Range is limited
  • Not everything is available that you need
  • Need drycleaning and/or washing.

What will you find here?

Anything donated is checked out first so the quality will mostly pass muster but it's still up to you to throughly check the item before you buy it for rips, tears, split seams, torn fabric, stains etc. For the most part, once the item of clothing is cleaned or dry cleaned, it comes up pretty well but there are exceptions of course so just be careful of what you buy.

You'll find clothing for the whole family including:

  • Jackets
  • Coats
  • Scarves
  • Hats
  • Socks
  • Waterproof outerwear.

The only thing I wouldn't recommend is buying pre-worn boots as you want your footwear to be molded to your feet so they are comfortable from the start. The only exception would be for a young child's boots. In this case, boots may only be worn for a short time (because they grow out of them quickly) and still be in good condition.

Budget stretching options

Here are some other options for you to consider:

  • Check non-profit opportunity shops like Goodwill or the Salvation Army in your area
  • Check local higher-end clothing consignment shops
  • Post a wanted ad for a specific itemon Craigslist or Kijiji or other free classifieds for your area
  • Check used sports stores for additional sports equipment
  • Check out local church, community organizations, associations and school sales
  • Check garage sales in your area in the summer
  • Organize a swap event with family, friends, neighbours, families from your children's school at the beginning of winter.

Recycling and reworking

Some clothing may also take on a new lease of life with some reworking or recycling into other forms. I had a favourite sweater that suffered when I accidentlly washed it in hot water so now it's being reworked into a scarf.

To get ideas of how you can update or alter your winter clothing and accessories, you can:

  • Window shop current winter fashions
  • Research art and craft clothing books from your local library
  • Visit local craft and artisan markets
  • People-watch at shopping malls.

The actual mechanics of updating your clothes and accessories might include:

  • Reconfiguring and knitting wool and acrylics
  • Adding different embellishments to change the look
  • Interweaving and incorporating some fun yarns, ribbons, feathers, beads etc to give the piece of clothing a new fun look.
  • Shortened/lengthen/change the garment or accessory using and incorporating different fabrics.

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