High Fashion, Low Budget: 7 Tips for Frugal Fashionistas
Style is a funny thing…one day it’s in, and the next day it’s out. Pulling off chic and trendy can be expensive, especially if you’re keeping up with the Kardashians. Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be.
If you want to be a fashionista but still need to pay your rent, read on. We’re giving you tips that will help you fill your wardrobe with affordable styles that are nothing short of fabulous.
1. Visit consignment, thrift, and vintage clothing shops
Consignment shops are popping up faster than Starbucks coffee houses these days and for a good reason: there’s a big market for pre-owned, well- cared for clothing and accessories that are still current. Shop early and often in the more affluent areas and you might just find those to-die-for leopard print mules you drooled over last winter. In terms of quality and condition, consignment shop owners can be quite selective when choosing which items to accept, but you should always inspect items for imperfections.
Thrift store shopping is en vogue right now and a goldmine for the bargain fashionista. But, you have to be a person who enjoys the thrill of the hunt. From t-shirts to designer handbags, from chinos to ball gowns, they have it all. Items arrive in various conditions, so inspect your purchases carefully.
Vintage shops are trending lately, especially because the look is really timeless. Vintage clothing is unique and often one-of-a-kind. Fancy buttons, interesting fabric combinations, and hand-sewn embellishments are their trademark, which is what makes them so fabulous. Sometimes the clothing can take you back to another time or, combined with a modern look, it can add that pop of interest that ultimately makes the outfit.
2. Don’t discount the resale sites
Poshmark, Depop, eBay, ThredUp, Swap…they all offer pre-owned stylish pieces at deeply discounted prices. The secret, though, is to be specific about what you’re looking for. Search NWT (new with tags) or EUC (excellent used condition) and don’t be shy about asking the seller to post more pictures. Look for tried-and-true brands that always fit you well. Before you make a purchase, be sure to review the site’s return policy since you’re basing your purchase on how you imagine it will look. Accessories are a less risky purchase since they always fit!
3. Connect on social media
If you thought Facebook was just for catching up with old classmates and posting pictures of little Johnny’s first birthday party, you’re living a sheltered life. Facebook Marketplace sells everything from futons to fur coats, clothing to crock pots, all at rock-bottom prices. Usually, clothing items are those that sellers think could earn them a few extra bucks, especially the ones with designer labels. Join your local Facebook garage sale groups and you never know what you might find.
Love the Stitch-Fix personal shopper concept, but not crazy about their prices? There’s a Facebook group that resells new and gently worn items from the Stitch-Fix family of labels, and another that finds the same or comparable styles on sale at local stores. Are Anthropology, Free People, and Urban Outfitters some of your faves? Yup, they’re there, too! Go ahead. Use that search button and go wild.
4. Shop discount stores
Discount stores like TJ Maxx, Nordstrom Rack, Marshalls, and Saks off Fifth are ideal for the savvy, designer-minded shopper who doesn’t want to pay full price. Generally, these stores negotiate the lowest price on overstock and end-of-season inventory from other companies and then sell it at 20-60% below retail prices.
Discount stores are less concerned with purging last season’s inventory with end-of-season sales but they’ll usually markdown items twice a year, in January and July. At TJ Maxx, a price tag with a red dot means the item has been discounted only once, and a yellow dot means it’s been marked down to its lowest price. You might have to buy your winter coat in July, but it’ll be a steal!
Head to your favorite discount store and find out which days of the week they receive new inventory or when the next clearance sweep is scheduled. There’s no big secret; all you need to do is ask. Plan ahead and get there early for the biggest selection.
5. Plan a swap party
If you have friends that are the same size and have similar tastes in style, host a clothing swap party. Each season, head to your closet and choose items you haven’t worn, are bored with, or don’t fit your shape quite right. Swapping clothes with your friends can boost your wardrobe and bring new life to unloved and neglected pieces that are perfect…for someone else.
6. Take on the department stores
Department stores are not the worst places to find your style, but don’t buy anything without a coupon. Macy’s will price match Macys.com and you can still couple it with a discount code. They’ll also honor online prices for the same item from a list of competitors like Belk, Bloomingdales, Nordstrom, and Lord & Taylor.
Love the superior customer service of Nordstrom? Join their rewards club and earn points for every purchase. When you reach 2,000, they’ll send you a $20 Nordstrom note to use on a future purchase. While their sales may be few and far between, they offer free personal styling and free alterations. Price matching is standard policy as are ten-day price adjustments.
7. Love it or leave it
We all have our favorite stores and brands. The key to scoring the best deals is to know the opportune time to shop–when shipments arrive, at the end of a season, before your coupon expires, or during a promotional event. It’s also important to buy pieces that you love when you see them, not merely when you need them. Ever try to find a dress to wear to a holiday party during your lunch break? You’d pay double for one that simply doesn’t make you look like you’re wearing a trash bag just to get out of there.
Your wardrobe should also be versatile, lend itself to be easily mixed-and- matched, and include enough neutrals to balance the other colors and patterns. Wear a vintage embroidered blazer with a pair boyfriend jeans, or change it up and pair it with a pencil skirt. Match that navy tunic with a pair of white capris and a shabby chic denim jacket. Replace the tunic with a striped t-shirt and grab some tennis shoes for a whole new look. Maximize the possibilities and it’ll seem as if your outfits are endless.