I am a girl with a love for style but not the budget for it. This makes shopping difficult because I want so many things that I just don’t have the money for. Seriously, walking through a department store shoe section is hell. Fortunately, over the years, I have curated some ways to maintain personal style and my wallet.
1. Get some staples that can go with multiple outfits.
Make sure your clothes are versatile. If those pants only go with that top, you aren’t getting your money’s worth out of them. Pack your closet with pieces that can be worn with anything and for any reason. My list of wardrobe must-haves consists of…
- Dark and light wash jeans and shorts
- Black pants and/or leggings
- Black skirt (whatever your favorite style is)
- One pair of flats, sneakers, (converse are my favorite, but vans are good too), sandals
- One little black dress (an essential forever)
With these and some cute tops, you have endless possibilities for looks.
2. Shop thrift stores, consignment shops, and outlet stores.
Never, EVER, go to a clothing store or even a big-name department store. They overcharge like crazy and most of them outsource to sweatshops. Yeah, Kohl’s always has sales, but you’re still paying more for things you can get second hand or out of season. Thrift stores, consignment shops, and outlet stores are my go-to for shopping. Yes, it’s more of a hunt to find some gold, but it’s always there and for way less. Plus, with consignment shops, when you need something new, you can sell back your old stuff and put the money towards a new outfit.
3. Never pay full price.
Wait for the sales. Buy clearance. Rip a seam a little to get a discount (okay, maybe don’t do that). But never pay full price. Thrift stores don’t tend to have sales but consignment shops and outlet stores have stuff on clearance all the time to make room for the next season of clothes. Which means the best time to shop is at the end of a season. Yes, it feels silly buying winter clothes when spring is around the corner, but you will still find blouses, jeans, and shoes that can be worn whenever.
4. Start a clothes swap system with your friends.
You those cute boots your friend Tiffany has that would go so great with Sarah’s dress and you want to wear that to the club? Well, it’s time to go back to the bartering system. Get a bunch of your friends in on it and create a small economy of clothes. This way you can expand and your friends can expand your wardrobes through trading different pieces. So, just trade your leather jacket for Tiffany’s boots and your floral skirt for Sarah’s dress and boom! Three outfits! One recommendation I would make is to label everyone’s clothes, so nothing gets lost (or stolen) in the shuffle.
Maybe you don’t have the time or energy to create a masterpiece. But, you can add a necklace, scarf, or hat to something simple and it instantly turns into a look. A statement necklace with a blouse and dark wash jeans is so easy and cheap, you’re stupid not to do it.
6. Don’t be afraid to get creative.
Sometimes, you just can’t find a piece that will work for your desired look. This is where you gotta get a little creative. Now, when I say creative I mean, wear something backwards or cut something up a little (not if you got it from your friend though). For instance, maybe you want a loose fitting, off the shoulder dress, but you can’t find what you’re looking for, you can go get an oversized t-shirt, cut the neckline and wear it with a chunky belt. Yeah, it’s weird, but if it works, it works.
7. Don’t buy the whole store.
Okay, I know this is hard, but you can’t buy everything, even if it was from the thrift store. Go to any store with a plan. What do you need? How much can you spend? Stick with that. Otherwise, you end up walking out of Marshalls with three carts full of clothes that are not going to fit in your closet.
8. Brag about how little you paid every time someone compliments your outfit
You spent $20 on that look and created it yourself. The Kardashians can’t say that much. Be proud of your creativity and ingenuity in finding each piece and crafting your look and not even paying that much for it. Finding gold by shopping used and always looking for sales is hard, but you did it and you’re rocking it.
Life is hard when you have caviar taste on a McDonald’s budget. But it is possible to look bomb af with what you have.