Fashion can be overwhelming, especially for those of us on a tight budget! If you’re paying down your debts, saving for a big purchase or curbing your spending, this post will guide the way. While trends are fun, every girl should invest in having some basic, universal staples that will survive short lived trends and be easily adaptable to any event or occasion with only minor fashion accessory supplements or adjustments.
I lived on an $800 monthly budget and still made my passion for fashion fit my limited spending. Do your best to find the essentials as cheaply as possible and get creative with sales, shopping around and swapping with friends. You don’t have to spend a lot to look fabulous!
Wardrobe Essentials Every Frugal Girl Needs:
1 Pair of Black or Nude Heels
1 Pair of Statement Heels (My go-to are Leopard Print)
1 Pair of Black Flats
1 Pair of Classic Boots (i.e. riding boots)
1 Pair of Sandals To Go With Everything
A Simple Pencil Skirt
A Work/Church Appropriate Blouse
A Black Cocktail Dress
3 Cardigans (Black, Tan, Bright Crazy Color)
3 Pairs Of Jeans (One being a classy dark wash)
4 Camis/Undershirts (to be paired with cardigans, layered or worn alone)
1 Black Trench or Peacoat
Pearl Necklace & Studs
Basic Silver or Gold Necklace & Studs
Leather Belt (to cinch dresses, layer sweaters)
Statement Accessory Pieces (Vintage Brooches, bright scarves)
Leggings or Tights (to layer with your summer pieces for fall)
Basic Handbag (a bag you love so much you’d wear it with anything!)
Get Creative On Where To Snag Essentials:
If you’re shopping for fashion on a budget, you will have to think outside the box to get the best deals on pieces that are highly valuable to your overall satisfaction and appearance. Most of us only think about fashion when we get a craving or see something that calls our name- but before you succumb to marketing or emotion, look elsewhere to get great deals on fashion.
Whenever you can, scour daily deal sites, clearance racks or thrift shops, but be cautious since many of the wardrobe staples can’t be found there (and instead, you’ll find last season’s trends that aren’t always conducive to a gal’s targeted fashion budget).
If you’re looking for a keystone piece of jewelry or a high-end trench coat that you couldn’t afford, ask for it as a gift or request gift cards to help you save up. You can’t always get essentials in your traditional “money saving” shops- a good pearl necklace or a handbag you know will go with everything cannot always be found on clearance racks or thrift stores. It’s better to save up to get a high quality essential piece or get it as a gift than to either buy a cheaper version you love less, or try and save money by buying a trendy piece you don’t totally love.
Take Notes Before You Shop & Scour For Essentials:
It is so easy to get caught up in the latest trends- but keep it simple if you’re on a budget. Whenever you buy an item, ask yourself “How many outfits will this make?” or “What Will This Item Complete?”
One of my favorite tricks is to take a mental note or leave a note in my phone when I’m struggling to put an outfit together at home and wish I had “a black pair of tights” or a “blue cardigan” to go with it, I make a note.
Most of the time, we waste money at the store simply because we’re looking for that perfect “thing” without being able to pinpoint our dissatisfaction or remember what little item would have helped us use items we already have (like a cami to cover up a busty dress or a thick belt to cinch a waist on a boxy blouse). Whenever an idea pops into your head, make a list and stick to it!
Invest In Wardrobe Basics, Lightly Supplement With Trends:
Trends are costly. Every time animal print or neon or faux leather falls into favor, people rush to Forever 21 and discount shops to stock up on the latest trends. While you are getting a discount, the high turnover rate of “cheap” fashion -either in durability or changing trends, seems to add up quickly.
The great thing about the above staples is that once you have them, it’s easy to adapt them to trends you love with just a few simple additions that can be implemented each season for $20 or less. Having a classy black cocktail dress can be dolled up with a feather pendant, a broach or hot pink pumps in a dozen different ways with affordable additions.
Focus your budget on the basics. Trends are tempting, but usually end up being regretted later, but stick to only what you need and supplement only with any extra spending money you have left over.
Patience Is A Virtue. Being Frugal & Fashionable Doesn’t Happen In One Trip:
Seriously girl, slow down! If you’re busy and fashion hungry, waiting around for the right piece especially at the right price is truly a test of grit. Timeless pieces that last beyond a season or two aren’t easy to find.
Just like a good meal that takes time to put together, you may not walk away with the perfect pair of jeans that hug you like a glove on your first visit. If you’re looking for the timeless essentials when you’re on a budget, know it will take some research and it will take some time to find on deep discount, thrifted or when swapped with friends.
When you’re out shopping, know stores are not geared to help us find timeless pieces, everything is tuned to make us “buy now,” and “get it now” instead of waiting for the right piece. It may be frustrating to exercise patience, but when you have finally a killer wardrobe that means you’re never without the right thing to wear, your pocketbook will thank you!
Where I Shop:
Zulily (I get TOMS ballet flats, Spanx hosiery, and undershirts here…love this site!)
Hautelook (I got some gorgeous Calvin Klein shift dresses for work & some gorgeous statement jewelry here)
Kate Spade (sign up for emails to get their Surprise Sale at 70% off)
Shabby Apple (gorgeous timeless styles, great sales… great pencil skirts!)
Levis (I will never buy cheap jeans again. I’ve had 3 pairs for over 4 years and they don’t get flabby grandma bottoms, great investments)