Sunday, August 15, 2010

How to Dress Well on a Budget

Contrary to popular belief, you CAN dress well without spending a fortune on designer clothes and shoes. I love fashion and can relate to the need to look good and to impress. It’s a very human need, after all. No one wants to look frumpy or “cheap.” However, I do believe that it’s quite possible to look great without spending your entire paycheck on Manolo Blahniks or on designer clothes. Here are a few tips and tricks for looking fab on a budget:

Wait for a Sale

All items eventually go on sale, so if you’re willing to wait a few weeks, you will be able to snag the same item at a much lower price than the original price. The longer you wait, the higher the discount – but also the risk that you won’t be able to find the item in your size or in your favorite color. The only caveat when it comes to shopping items on sale: it’s very tempting to buy something just because it’s on sale, but that would be a waste. You must be very aware of this temptation and make sure you only buy thing you need – things you would have purchased anyway.

Shop Off-Price Retailers

Off-price retailers such as T.J. Maxx, and the online retailer Bluefly, specialize in buying surplus designer clothes at a bargain. They then transfer the savings to you. It’s not unheard of to be able to get the same item that sells for $200 at a department store for half that price at an off-price retailer, during the same time – many of these items are not last-season clothes. The main issue with shopping off-price retailers is time – you will need to go through lots of lower-quality items to snag that one, fab top at half price.

Splurge on the Classics, Save on Trendy Items

I like to buy one or two high-quality, full-price, classic items each season. I pay full price for those because it’s important for me to get them in my size and in the color I prefer. These could be tailored pants, a crisp white shirt, a cropped jacket – timeless, classic items that I can wear for many seasons, so I don’t mind paying more – I feel that I’m getting my money’s worth. But when it comes to items that won’t last for more than a season or two, such as woven cotton tops, or trendy items that look fresh now but will look dated next year, I see no reason to pay full price.

Shop Your Own Closet

Many of us have items in the back of our closet that we have forgotten about. Going shopping in your own closet is lots of fun, and you may just find a few items that would add color and interest to your wardrobe. While you’re at it, try on some clothes, make sure to get rid of anything that you haven’t worn in a while and that do not fit you anymore. An airy, uncluttered closet makes getting dressed much easier.

Use a Seamstress

Back in the sixties, my mom, a beautiful young woman with a limited budget, used to purchase fashion magazines, leaf through them, and cut out dresses she liked. She then took those pictures to a seamstress, who made similar dresses for her at a fraction of how much they would have cost her at a store. These days, seamstresses seem to be an endangered species, but if you can find one that would do this for you, go for it. You won’t just save money – you will also get clothes that are tailored exactly to your figure.

Wear Black

In her book “Women and Beauty,” Sophia Lauren talks about her young, poor days, “In order to have something to wear in those early days in Rome, something that would cost practically nothing and could be worn all day long and into the evening, and on every sort of occasion, I took my clothes, my navy skirt and white blouse, and dyed them black. Even my handkerchief became black. It was the only way I could think of to provide a versatile wardrobe at no cost. And it worked. I could go anywhere in my black clothes, and the simplicity of my appearance was very elegant.”

Dressing well on a budget is obviously not as easy as dressing well on an unlimited budget, but it can be done with a little thought and planning. What are your own tips and tricks for dressing well on a budget? Do you wait for sales, shop off-price retailers, or use other tactics that I haven’t thought of?

by Vered DeLeeuw Money Ning July 29, 2010

How to Dress Well on a Budget

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