Looking for a way to look fabulous without breaking the bank? You might think that it’s not easy to look fashionable on a budget, but it is definitely possible. You don’t have to spend your whole paycheck on clothes and accessories in order to look great. Nor do you need to be rich or famous to get that celebrity-level style.
We’ve got some tips and tricks that’ll help you look like a million bucks without spending one cent more than your budget allows. Whether you’re looking for new outfits or just want to know how to get the most out of what you already own, these frugal fashion hacks can help your style makeover goals.
1. Go for High-Quality Clothing.
When you’re on a budget, you probably think that the best option is to buy cheap clothes. You may think that by buying inexpensive clothing, you are saving money in the process. However, price should not be your only standard when shopping for clothes. You have to prioritize the quality of the clothing first.
If you keep buying cheap clothes that are low in quality, there’s a high chance that they will fall apart after only a couple of wears. As a result, you could end up spending more money to replace these clothes.
Instead of always making a beeline for the clearance rack, look for high-quality items that will last longer. These items do not need to be luxury designer brands. There are many retail items that are reasonably priced but well-made. The quality of the clothing or the accessory will also be evident when you use them. For example, a pair of tailored pants made with good fabric will fit and look better than buying pants made with cheap-looking material.
2. Build Your Capsule Wardrobe.
If your budget is limited, building a capsule wardrobe will benefit you a lot. A capsule wardrobe is a set of clothes suited to your lifestyle, current body type, and silhouette preferences. Usually, these are your “basics” or clothes that you usually wear on a daily basis to go to work or carry out your everyday tasks.
Basic clothing will have a different definition depending on your need and lifestyle. But usually, these are classic pieces that never go out of style such as suits, denim jeans, white sneakers, crew neck shirts, and black leather shoes.
Determine what types of clothes fit your lifestyle and start building your wardrobe from there. For instance, if you work in a casual workplace or you’re a student, your basics would probably include pairs of jeans, sports jackets, dresses, casual T-shirts, and sneakers. If you work in a more formal environment, you may need suits, trousers, skirts, blouses, button-down shirts, and leather shoes. If you are a stay-at-home mom, your wardrobe would probably consist of clothing you wear when you go grocery shopping, get the kids to school, or go out with your friends.
Review what you already have and keep the clothes that fit well and are in good condition. Be brutal in editing your wardrobe. Give up clothes that are already many sizes too big or too small. If you haven’t used a piece of clothing for years, give it away. Toss away clothes that are already worn or those with holes.
After minimizing your wardrobe, you’ll get a better idea of what else you need to complete your capsule wardrobe. When you start shopping, go for quality over quantity. For example, you only have a certain amount of money to spend on new jeans, it is better to have just three pairs of great quality jeans than have 20 pairs of cheap-looking pants.
Another thing to remember when shopping for basics is to go for neutral solid colors and classic silhouettes that you can easily mix and match, instead of going for printed or unusual designs.
3. Use Trendy Accessories or Select Seasonal Pieces to Update Your Look.
After building your capsule wardrobe, it does not mean that’s what you’ll wear forever. To stay in fashion, you also need to follow the trends. However, you don’t need to overhaul your entire wardrobe to look stylish and current. Remember that trends come and go so spending too much on trendy items that may look outdated after a few months will not benefit your bank account.
So, a good compromise on how to look fashionable on a budget is to use accessories or select fashion pieces to stay on trend. Choose items that you can easily incorporate with what you already have. For example, if the current trend is floral prints, you don’t have to buy dozens of floral printed shirts or dresses. Go for a floral scarf or a floral jacket that you can wear with many different outfits.
You don’t have to embrace every trend that comes up. Choose a trend that you feel looks good on you or a fashion item that will still be usable next year.
4. Shop Off-Season or During Sales.
You probably know already that clothes are more expensive when you’re shopping in-season. While you’ll look super on-trend, paying full price can hurt your budget. As mentioned in tip #3, using trendy accessories or clothing is a good way to compromise and only spend on a few select items.
But there’s another way to shop for high-quality clothing without limiting yourself to vintage shops or buying in second-hand stores. The trick is to shop off-season or when the season is almost over. Except for some super exclusive luxury brands, most fashion items go on sale. The good news is that most brands put everything on sale including classic items that will not go out of style for a few more years.
If you are eyeing an expensive pair of leather shoes or a leather jacket, for example, wait until the sale season starts. In the United States, spring and summer clothes usually go on sale in June and July. For fall and winter clothing, wait until after the winter holidays before shopping.
5. Wear Clothes that Fit.
Here’s a fact: ill-fitting clothes can cramp your style! When clothes are either too small or too big on you, they tend to look lousy no matter how expensive they are. Think about that time when your jeans were too small and you can’t sit properly without worrying the button will snap. Or maybe that time when your shoes were too big, you had such a hard time walking properly. Wearing the wrong clothing size can make you feel uncomfortable which will affect the way you’ll carry what you’re wearing.
By simply choosing clothes that fit well, you can feel more confident in your clothes. You don’t need to constantly tug or adjust your clothing every once in a while. When you feel confident, it reflects on how you stand, how you walk, and on your overall aura.
6. Don’t Be Scared to Experiment with Fashion.
Experimenting with fashion does not always mean going for crazy design trends. It also means going out of your comfort zone to try something new. It’s not uncommon to feel hesitant to try something you’ve never worn before because you’re probably thinking it will not look good on you. But if you don’t try it, you’ll never know whether you’ll like it or if it will suit your lifestyle.
One controversial fashion trend, for example, is the return of bike shorts or cycling shorts. These tight-fitting shorts became popular in the 1980s but went out of style in the early 2000s. In 2018, the Kardashians brought back the trend and started wearing bike shorts with everything. This fashion move raised a lot of eyebrows and it took a while before the average woman went on board with the trend. Now we’re in 2021, and more and more women have embraced the bike shorts once again due to how comfortable it is. The takeaway here is that while you might not initially like a fashion trend, trying it out could change your perspective.
7. When Buying Luxury Items, Invest in Timeless Designs.
Being frugal does not mean you should not spoil yourself with things that will make your fashionista’s heart happy. Many people equate being fashionable with having a luxury bag or an iconic watch. While you can stay fashionable without buying luxury items, there’s also nothing wrong with saving up for something that you really want.
An advantage of buying luxury items is that most of these things are also very high-quality which is why they command a high price. So, what to advise someone on a budget saving for a luxury item?
If you are saving up to purchase an expensive luxury item, one good tip to remember is to go for something that has a timeless design. Because you’re spending a lot on one piece, you want to make sure that you’ll get your ROI (return on investment) on the piece, meaning you can use it almost every day for many, many years.
For example, if you want to buy a luxury bag, ask yourself first if it’s something you can use in your day to day life or is it a design that will just collect dust in the closet? Or if you are buying an expensive pair of leather shoes, is the style classic enough to last you for many years? Again, when spending on luxury items, you want to stay away from crazy or super trendy styles that may not be fashionable anymore after just a couple of years.
Dress Well On A Budget
Looking good and stylish even when your budget is limited is not an impossibility. You don’t need to always settle for hand-me-downs or thrift stores. By shopping smartly, you can make your wardrobe last and still stay in style.