Fashion on a Budget

Fashion on a BudgetWhen you hear the words fashion or fashionable, do you start to see dollar signs adding up in your head? Fashion is always evolving and what was once “in” last week might be “out” the next. Many people feel to be fashionable you have to spend a fortune on your wardrobe by constantly buying into the latest trends and the expensive brand name products. But that isn’t necessarily the case.

Building your wardrobe basics is the first place to start. By purchasing items that will weather the test of fashion trends, you will save on replacing items each season. Opting to avoid a trendy pair of skinny jeans and instead purchase a pair of classic straight leg jeans, may mean you will get several more seasons out of one than the other.  Also, keeping staples in your closets that are basic colors will help as well. By keeping whites, blacks and neutrals that you can pair with on trend accessories you will get more bang out of your fashion buck.

If you are in desperate need of a wardrobe revamp, start with what you have. If you haven’t worn it in the past 1-2 years and don’t plan on wearing it within the next year, it might be time to either donate it, have a yard sale, or even consign it. By selling or consigning your clothing you no longer wear, you can take your proceeds and invest in expanding your wardrobe. Once you’ve gone through your current closet, determine what basics you are missing or need to replace.  Depending on your profession, you may need 2-3 pairs of dress slacks, 6-8 blouses, 2-3 dress skirts, 2-3 blazers, etc. Or maybe you are a stay at home mom and jeans and tees are your daily garb, but you like to dress up on date night.  Focus on buying the items you need and purchase those items first.

Each season tends to have unique color trends. Therefore, keep the trendy colors to your accessories.  Earrings, scarves, purses, necklaces, hats, headbands and so on are inexpensive options for keeping up with color trends. And they don’t take up a lot of space to keep around for when they come back into style. Which most of them will, eventually.  On the flip side, when you want to splurge and go “high fashion” and buy the name brands, accessories are the least expensive way to do so.  A clutch or wallet will often be a fraction of the cost of a designer purse. A scarf will be a fraction of the cost of a jacket.

Another thing to keep in mind is that many department stores sell more affordable versions of high fashion items. Even some “big box” stores keep up with the trends pretty well.  It is true sometimes it is worth it to pay for a little higher quality, especially on wardrobe staples. You don’t want to skimp too much on items that are going to be worn a lot. For jeans, dress slacks, and jackets, shopping the clearance or sale racks at department stores will most likely yield you a higher quality of wardrobe than a big box / discount store. However, for a cute pair of coral hoop earrings this season, a big box store is the place to go.

As with buying a used car, sometimes it’s best to let someone else “take the hit.” By exploring consignment and high end thrift stores you can often find like new name brand items. If you are really lucky, you might even find them new with tags.   An added bonus is that many thrift stores and consignments stores are ran by charities or donate to charities.  Be sure to check out what you have locally. You may be surprised. You can shop and know you are giving back to your community at the same time.

Also, never underestimate the power of garage sales.  Generally, when someone is having a yard sale, they are motivated to sell and they price things to move. By visiting garage sales in upscale neighborhoods you can score some great finds – fashion and otherwise.  It’s best to map out your plan of attack in advance. Check your local newspaper and online classifieds for garage sale listings and plan out your day. This will not only save you on fuel costs driving around, but it will also save you time so you don’t have to back track or drive around searching for sales.

What fashion post would be complete without talking about shoes? Women love shoes. Many women own 50 plus pairs and only wear a handful of them.  Which brings up another good point. Make sure if you are on a fashion budget to buy items you are certain you will wear. Not just once, but really wear.  Those adorable strappy heels may be calling your name now. But consider what other items you could buy with the same amount of money.

Lastly, it’s ok to give in and buy into a trend every now and again, knowing, that you are buying an item that may or may not still be in fashion next year. If you love it and you will wear it, that is what matters.  Now it’s time to go shopping!

Ricki Pritchett is a wife, mama, and full time corporate workin’ woman. She has a passion for writing, crafting, nail polish, and good microbrews. She is also the designer and owner of The Rogue Baby and a regular contributor to the CareOne blog, a community that provides debt consolidation and money-saving tips.

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