Luckily, there's another option: tailoring. For a relatively low price, it's possible to get your favorite shirts, pants and other garments brought in or let out to suit your changing figure.
For that matter, you don't even have to gain or lose weight before you visit a tailor. As Ian Weeldon, a stylist at New York's Dejavu Tailoring notes, a good alteration can make your new garments look like they were made for you: "Off the rack clothes are cut to sell to the widest range of customers," he explains. "Ninety percent of them are going to have issues that make them not perfect for your shape."
Most of these problems are barely noticeable, but the ones that are can really ruin the look and feel of your garment. Luckily, a good tailor can easily bring in a jacket or shorten the sleeves on a shirt, transforming an item made for the masses into something that fits you perfectly. Dejavu's prices are fairly standard -- they charge $15 to have a shirt taken in, or $5 to have a pair of pants hemmed -- but when it comes to looks, the alterations are well worth the money. This is doubly apparent when you consider that good shirts routinely cost $30 or more, and that tailor-made shirts are at least triple that.
After a few visits to your tailor shop, you'll get a feel for what they can and can't do -- and, in the process, you'll get a great tool for maximizing your shopping dollar. After all, if transforming an ill-fitting shirt is only a matter of a few dollars, it could be a great bargain. Conversely, if it's going to cost you a fortune to make a sportcoat fit, maybe it's a good idea to leave it on the rack.
Bruce Watson is DailyFinance's Savings Editor. You can reach him by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him on Twitter at @bruce1971.