My love affair with fashion started at an early age, probably influenced by the fact my mom always designed and created my outfits for special occasions. She would show me the pattern and the materials she was going to use and then she would start cutting and sewing. (Fittings were the worst because I was fidgety and TOTALLY uncooperative – sorry Mom 😉 By the time I was a teen, I was hooked. I even wanted to be a fashion designer and dreamed of going to F.I.T. (my dad talked me out of it). Anyways, it’s still in my blood (budgetary constraints notwithstanding). So what is a broke fashionista to do? I know – become a FRUGALISTA! 😉 I did it, and you can too. Just follow my tips for frugalistas and you will cease to be a frustrated fashionista.
First and foremost, keep up with the trends. Don’t be afraid to scan fashion magazines and the websites for your favorite brands, for ideas. Like I always say, keep a positive attitude. Don’t let yourself get frustrated by the fact you can’t actually buy the stuff you’re seeing. Just let it fuel you to be creative and get the same look for less. I can’t begin to tell you how satisfying it is to wear something you know costs way more than what you paid for it. (I’m probably preaching to the choir on that point 😉 I’m sure everyone has enjoyed the thrill of scoring a total deal regardless of their budget). The thing is, the lower your budget, the more creative you’ll need to be to pull it off. And, probably, the greater the satisfaction when you do – so stay with me here, ok?
Because fashion is cyclical, your first stop should be the thrift store. (Thrift store shopping deserves a post to itself, so click here for that). There is a chance you can find something very similar to this season’s Ann Taylor, Banana Republic, etc. styles because high quality brands tend to turn out classic staples year after year, as well as classics with a trendy twist. Scan the racks for the color and textures you are looking for. Pull from the racks each piece that catches your eye and decide whether it delivers the look you’re going for, or if it can do so with a tweak or two. On the flip side, be realistic about whether you are going to put the work in or not – if, after thinking about it, you can admit you’ll probably never get to it, DON’T BOTHER (I can’t stress this enough!)! You do not need to waste money and fill your space with stuff that is USELESS (positive thinking is not going to be enough here). Either way, to thine own self be true, feel me?
Okay, so here’s an example of creative thinking in effect. This year for the holidays I wanted a pair of black satin wide legged pants, so I headed to one of the biggest Goodwill stores in my town and found just what I was looking for (it’s not always this easy, so, boy was I thrilled ;-)! They are FABULOUS and cost me like $3.50. The thing is, they are not exactly a perfect fit (boo – a tad tight L). Now for a while, I have wanted a pair of tuxedo pants but I wasn’t sure the tuxedo (stripe going down side of each leg) look would work on wide-legged pants. So, I did a search for “tuxedo stripe wide leg pants” and found some really lovely examples which cost between $125 and $645. Ok, so it’s a thing. Now, what I am going to do is get a wide (over 1” wide) velvet or velveteen ribbon to extend the legs on the outside (fingers crossed ya’ll ;-). I just think it would be really clever (& festive) for the pants to be satin and the stripe to be velvet since usually the stripe is in satin, see how that works? What do you think? PS – I’ll let you know how it goes…
Another way to be fashionably frugal is to shop only from the clearance rack (even better, if there is a coupon or a percentage off clearance). Be very strict with yourself on this – if it’s not on clearance, you don’t need to see it. If you are on a really tight budget and you cannot follow this rule, I suggest you NOT go to the stores (otherwise your budget will be in grave danger)! Just don’t go! Set a ridiculously low price point, too. For tops I say, “3 is a magic number.” For bottoms and shoes I try to go no higher than $10. But most of all – the cheaper the better!! I got a Calvin Klein dress for .33, a long sleeve top for. 65 and a short sleeve top for .39. Where? Got the dress at one of my favorite local thrift stores when they had a 3/$1 rack they used to get rid of stuff that took too long to sell. Got the 2 tops at Beall’s Outlet (one of my top shops) on a Friday (that’s when you get an additional 15% on any item – including clearance). No matter if it’s at a thrift store or a retail store of any kind, stick to your price point – no higher. Also, don’t buy it if you know you’re never going to wear it, no matter how cute it is (unless it’s $1 or less – if it’s THAT cheap I’ll get it even if it is to give it away or to use for craft materials).
Has it ever occurred to you to shop your own closet? Like I mentioned earlier, fashion is cyclical, so, you may have some gems at the bottom of your closet whose time has come. Sometimes, we have a tendency to wear the same thing because we don’t know what we have and don’t have time to search when we need to get dressed. Take stock, experiment, have your own fashion show and get rid of anything you don’t see yourself in. This way, you’ll know what you need to get to make your wardrobe work plus you’ll have an easier time getting dressed. Once you know what you need, your shopping will become way more targeted, saving you both time & money. Hope this helps 😉 Let me know what you think!