Trans Lifeline Library:

Free/Frugal/Low Cost Clothing

Budget Shopping Tips

Gender Affirming Shopping

Free/Frugal/Low Cost Clothing


Budget Shopping Tips


If you’re just starting out and trying to look for gender-affirming clothes on a budget, donation-based and thrift stores can be a lifesaver. They’re a great place to find quality, name brand, stylish clothing–some of which might even still have the original tags. It can be a fun experience to visit different stores in different areas to see if you can find a new favorite item, since each location will carry unique stock!

If you live near an LGBTQ community center or organization, reach out to them to ask if they participate in clothing exchanges or if they have a donation closet. This is a great way to find something you love for free, while also bringing in anything you don’t wear anymore in the hope that it will find a new home with someone else (most clothing exchanges are open and welcoming to folks who come with or without donations).

Ross, TJ Maxx, and similar stores offer overstock or very mildly damaged items at better prices than you might find elsewhere. Usually, these are brand-name items that may have a small stitching issue or weren’t selling as fast, but still have a quality look and feel for a fraction of the original price.

Target and Walmart also offer many more modern and seasonal options for people on a budget. This can be one of your best bets for finding a full, in style outfit for under $50. The quality of the store brands has greatly improved over the years, so no one has to know that you got that super awesome shirt for half of what a nearly-identical shirt costs elsewhere. Target currently has a changing room policy that allows customers to use whatever changing area feels best for them, and many stores have switched to a gender-neutral changing area.

Sales racks are not shameful areas. These are great spots to find stuff that’s being discounted just to make room for the next batch of seasonal items or to finish clearing out some less-sold sizes. If you’re midwestern, this is where you find those gems that give you “good bargain” bragging rights.

Take advantage of certain shopping discount days! Black Friday especially is a good time to get great deals on jackets and cool-weather clothes. Some states also have tax-free shopping days around back-to-school times, so it’s a little easier to get some school clothes. Pay attention to end of season sales and holiday sales!

If you’re able to sew, there are many free and easy patterns available online for things like gaffs and fabric packers, as well as advice on how to tailor or modify your existing clothing to feel more comfortable and affirming. If you choose to sew by hand, here’s a guide that teaches you some basics.

If there’s a clothing or makeup store that you love, but have trouble affording, it’s sometimes worth it to work there for a certain period of time in order to take advantage of the employee discount. For example, American Eagle employees typically get 25-60% off, Foot Locker employees typically get 30% off, and Sephora employees typically get 30-40% off.


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