You already know that shopping clearance racks and making a list will save you money on clothes shopping. But are you unknowingly making fitting room blunders that cause you to waste money? Last year, when I slashed my clothes budget to $100 a year, I quickly learned a few things that helped me save money on clothes (and exactly what didn't). Learn from my mishaps to save yourself some serious cash. Here are five surprisingly costly fitting room mistakes you should avoid:

 

1. Avoiding anything with a "dry clean only" tag

We've all been there. You find an amazing shirt at a ridiculously low price. Then you notice the "dry clean only" tag and throw it aside. Don't write it off that quickly! Many dry clean only items can actually be washed. I've hand-washed numerous clothes made from natural fabric blends — like wool, linen, rayon, and “washable silk” — even though they were marked dry clean only. Take a look at the tag to determine which fabric makes up the highest percentage in the blend. Wash the item according to the instructions for that fabric.

2. Not looking your best

Make sure you do your hair and put on a little makeup when you go shopping. Fitting rooms tend to have harsh and unflattering lighting — which doesn't bode too well for your self-confidence. When you're worried that you look terrible, you're more likely to overspend. After all, you have to get that $300 skirt because at least it makes you look semi-presentable. Am I right? When you look put together and well groomed, you're more likely to make conscious, intentional decisions based on what you actually need.

3. Shopping in the afternoon

When you're tired and hungry, you can't shop at your best. Not only are you zapped of energy, you're not at your ideal "fitting room size." We all get bloated throughout the course of the day, which can make you feel uncomfortable (see tip above). Leave the afternoons for kicking back your feet, and try shopping in the morning instead. You'll have more oomph, plus the sales racks will be fully stocked and in order — which also means you'll score more great deals.

4. Buying on trend

I can't tell you how many times I've grabbed up a super-trendy item thinking it would be perfect to infuse some hipness in my wardrobe. We're talking floral pants, peplum tops and tie dye. And guess what? Those items linger around unworn — for years. Learn your own personal style and what works for you. If you're not feeling a particular item, put it back — even if it's the "it" item everyone's wearing. If it doesn't feel fabulous when you put it on, you shouldn't buy it.

5. Passing on buying something you love

It may seem counterintuitive, but when you give yourself the freedom to spend money on something you truly love, you'll spend less overall. To explain, let me tell you the story of a denim jacket. I found an amazing denim jacket on sale for $40 that I absolutely loved. It was out of my budget, so I didn't buy it. But I thought about it. A lot. By the time I went back to the store, it was gone. After searching a few other stores, I found a similar jacket for less, bought it, but then returned it because it just wasn't the same. I've never found the jacket again, and I'm still kicking myself. Plus, I've probably spent more in time and gas searching for it than I would have if I had just bought it to begin with. The point is, if you absolutely love it and have to have it, buy it!

This is a guest post by Rebecca from Brick, New Jersey
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5 Surprisingly Costly Fitting Room Mistakes