High Fashion Shopping on a Budget

Written by: Jennifer Watkins


For both men and women alike, it can be difficult to create and maintain a stylish and fashionable wardrobe on a budget. Making smart spending decisions and design clothing do not always go hand in hand. Whether it be for work, romantic, or social life, having a curated, personal style is an important aspect of life for many people. Thus, the following article will provide some tips and tricks to help you build your best wardrobe without breaking the bank.

One of the first tips is to scour resale sites like ebay, craigslist, mercari, and the like. But, do not just scour them randomly, as this can lead to purchases on way more than expected – and not even necessarily on clothes! Rather, look for specific wardrobe items specifically, such as a coat, or specific pair of shoes. This will create shopping limits and smarter spending habits – but still let you look for specific items that will complete your look. In addition, most e-commerce and resale sites will allow you to set alerts for both the availability of items as well as price drops on items you like. There are also sites that exist that have excess designer inventory available. Be sure to check these out!

Another option is to consider getting some of your budget buys altered. Whether you buy secondhand, at a discount store, or online, it is completely unlikely that all of these low cost purchases will fit you perfectly. Thus, it is worth it to find a place to get low cost alterations done. These can be done (usually) at your local dry cleaner or tailor, but be sure to shop around for the best prices as they can vary widely. So, the next time you find a great shirt that doesn’t fit just right, but is 80% off, get it anyways and have it altered cheaply. Having perfectly fitting clothes also helps tremendously with your look as a well-tailored outfit looks significantly more expensive than a poorly fitting one. This is true, regardless of the overall cost of the pieces involved.

A tip that works for everyone, regardless of gender, is to layer. Layering is a great way to make a look more complex, for less. Plain, basic colored tee shirts are inexpensive and can be paired with several different types of shirts or coats over top. In addition, these can also be lower budget, as the combination of the two pieces together will speak for itself. This also works well if you have only a few coats and shirts, but still want to vary the look throughout the week. This tip can save money, but do the math for yourself, because in some cases, it can actually cost more – depending on the person and the deals they find. Regardless, style-wise, layering creates a more visually dynamic effect and can really make a look pop. Bonus points for this is your combinations of over and under shirts all match one another so you can mix and match.

If you have other fashion minded and smart spending minded friends, consider a monthly or quarterly fashion swap night. This could be two birds (or even three) with one stone. It provides a low-budget get together for you and your best friends, provides a fun bonding experience, and builds everyone’s wardrobe. Consider, you and your friends all gather and bring the pieces that you are not wearing as much, but still are in good enough condition to be worn and appreciated. Then, you spend a fun evening switching, matching, and swapping with your friends pieces. Then, you go home with a bunch of new and exciting pieces to switch up your wardrobe – and so do your friends. Plus, it is a good way to clean out the back edges of your closet as well, which is a very ‘Marie Kondo’ sort of mood.

If you need a whole new fashion overall, as your current clothes aren’t working for whatever reason, consider selling all of them and starting fresh. Even if the clothes don’t work for you, you can still sell everything in good condition and make a significant chunk of change to start your new wardrobe. This would also be a great way to start a new look if you are thinking of changing yours up. Regardless of your reasoning, selling all of your clothes that are in good condition is a fantastic way to begin fresh and provide the seed money for building a new closet. For all of the items that you can’t sell, donate them to a charity or someone in need – rather than throwing them out.

For men and women alike, consider adding a signature item to your look. This can be a simple hair ribbon, a makeup look, a belt, or jacket, or anything really. But one item that pulls the look together and is a defining element of your style. These do not have to be expensive, although they can be, but it serves two purposes. Say that your defining piece is a jacket. Firstly, it serves at your jacket for most outfits, meaning that you only need to buy the one. Secondly, it helps develop and individual and unique style as you now have a signature item. Thus, it creates a more personal look overall and can help you wear your favorite pieces more often.

For women specifically, consider buying some of your basic items in the men’s department instead. Men’s clothes, on average, are significantly cheaper than women’s clothing – even in the same stores! For basic items like socks, tee shirts, or belts, consider the men’s department. This can save a ton of money in the long term. Additionally, if your style involves tomboy looks or something more boyish, then this can pull double duty. Men often pay less for similar pieces, so for a macho look, shop men’s instead! This can become and continue to be a defining element of your personal style as well.

Finally, consider shopping at charity shops or second hand stores. Most towns and cities will have a variety of these types of store – some are more catered than others. These can help you find both staples, such as tee shirts, but also statement pieces for everyday wear. This requires a little bit more work than shopping at a traditional store, but it becomes worth it when you find a fantastic jacket for only $8. Finally, there is often several designer pieces that can be found at charity shops, as people get rid of clothes often as things come in and out of style. Remember that fashion is cyclical, so things come back into style again quite quickly after they left.

Hopefully, these tips help you develop smarter spending habits when it comes to shopping for clothing. Creating and upgrading a wardrobe is one of the fun and creative elements about being an adult, but it is hard to create without a budget. Or so, we thought. In reality, you can create weeks of unique and awesome looks with a very small budget – if you know the way. Whether it is scouring online retailers, utilizing tailor services, layering different pieces, having clothing swap parties, selling your unworn items, adding a signature item, buying in the opposite gender department, or shopping at charity shops – you can create fantastic looks on the cheap. Even if you use only one of two of these tips, it should help you stick on budget when shopping!


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High Fashion Shopping on a Budget

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