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Fashion on a Budget

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You don’t have to be wealthy to be a true fashionista. In fact, having to make your clothing money go a long way can lead you to some very unique, creative and expressive style choices. With a little planning and some smart shopping, you can look high-end even on the most shoestring of budgets.Although these resources and tips are geared toward women’s clothing, they are equally applicable to men.

Buying Clothes on a Budget

Shopping Tips: These consumer tips from the Federal Trade Commission help you understand the retail tactics and tricks so you can get the most for your money.

Clearance Clothes Shopping Tips: Learn how to time your shopping with sale trends to catch clothes at their lowest prices. Also don’t forget to ask a sales associate to check other stores if your favorite sale dress isn’t in your size.

Tips for Thrift Store Shopping: With a little planning and some realistic expectations, thrift stores can be a fantastic place to get clothing.  You can often find name brands and even brand new items.

Plato’s Closet: Bring your gently used clothing in and get credit to buy other pre-owned clothing. Plato’s Closet specializes in staying as up-to-date on the trends as possible.

Splurge vs. Steal: If you find a piece you really love, don’t forget to look online for similar items from a different brand. You may be surprised how much you can save getting look-alikes.

5 Best Money-Saving Fashion Apps: These mobile apps help you find discounted items at local sales and even bid in auctions.

Repurposing Clothes

40 Ways to Repurpose Old Clothes: These projects give you some inspiration for turning one old article of clothing into something completely different.

RYE DYEHow to Rit Dye: These instructions are from the most popular fabric dye company. There are also good FAQs to help you determine if dyeing will work for you.

Selling on eBay: Repurpose your clothes into money that you can spend on new pieces. A quality listing on eBay can get you more cash than a rushed one.

Facebook Swap and Sell: Many people are turning to local Facebook groups to list items for sale and swap. These can be a great place to find deals.

Styling on a Budget

Easy, Cute Style Tips: Knowing how to style your clothing can save you a lot of money. For instance, making a t-shirt work as four completely different outfits is the equivalent of four tops that you would otherwise wear as separate outfits.

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How to Style Clothes You Already Have: These simple changes — like rolling, cuffing, draping, knotting and tucking – can help make one piece into many different looks.

Style ClothesMaking Your Clothes Look Expensive: With these tips, you can make pieces you already own look more high-end. For instance, investing in quality handbags and neutral shoes can make even cheap outfits look expensive.

How to Shop Your Closet: This blog gives a great visual on how to combine pieces you already own for dozens of unique looking outfits. You may not have to buy as many clothes as you think.

JewelryInexpensive Jewelry Brands: These trendy jewelry lines start in a very affordable range and can really boost your wardrobe without having to buy a lot of new clothing.

Fashion Costume Jewelry: Trendy jewelry is usually best bought as fashion jewelry for those who are budget-conscious. Just beware these pieces may not last really long.

5 Tips for Buying Quality Jewelry Cheap: Investing in quality, genuine jewelry can be worth it in the long run. Try to stick to classic staples that won’t age, like pearls, diamond studs, tennis bracelets, etc.

Renting Clothes

Renting ClothesRent the Runway: Have a special occasion coming up? Rent your dress for as little as 5 percent of the retail price. You’ll look high-end on a low budget.

Le Tote: This subscription based service lets you rent clothes for a flat fee each month. If you fall in love with the piece, you have the option to buy it for up to half off retail price. This is a great option for professionals.

The Mr. Collection: Here’s an option for the guys. Similar to “Le Tote,” you’ll have stylish pieces sent to you for a flat fee each month with the option to buy your favorites.

Tips for Being Fashionable on a Budget

Buy Simple Pieces

When you stick with staple pieces in a neutral color palette, you greatly increase your number of outfit options. Make your color show up in less expensive tees or tanks rather than jackets, pants and other pricier pieces.

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Clean Out Your Closet

Go through your current clothing and decide what you wear often, what fits, and where you have duplicates.  Everything else can be taken to a Goodwill, Plato’s Closet or other similar thrift store where you will get credit to spend on new pieces. Don’t forget you can trade in shoes, belts, jewelry and other accessories, too.

Grab a Needle and Thread

With some simple sewing skills, you can update old clothes or good thrift store finds. Learn to hem to make clothes the correct length for your body to give you a more expensive look. You can also buy nice buttons for a few dollars and swap out the cheap plastic ones that come on less expensive pieces.

Hire a Needle and Thread

If you find a great deal on a high quality item, it might be worth it to have a seamstress tailor the piece to your body. You’ll look much more high-end with a well-fitting outfit, and simple alterations can be very low cost.

The same thing can apply to good shoes. Cobblers may seem outdated, but repairing and cleaning high quality shoes and heels can make sure your shoes last for many years.

Repurpose Old Clothes

Improve your basic sewing skills with some fun repurposing projects. Whether from your own closet or a thrift store, repurposing clothes can be a fun and cheap way to be fashionable. Old tee shirts make lots of really creative projects from stylish tops, tote bags, skirts, scarves, etc.

Have a Clothing Swap Party

Gather up some friends and have everyone (including you!) bring over some clothes and accessories that they’re tired of or that don’t fit anymore. Set a number that each person has to bring. This will be the maximum number they can take home, too. Then set all the clothes out and go through piece by piece to see who wants what. Don’t forget to set aside space for a fitting room, and set rules for bartering if there are contested items.

Dye Your Clothes

If your clothes are fading or if you just want to update your closet’s color palette, try dyeing your clothes instead of replacing them. It’s a relatively simple process that requires dye (from any craft store or big box store), a large cooking pot, rubber gloves, measuring spoons and cups, and materials to protect your surfaces. Be sure to read the labels carefully, as some materials take on dye better than others. You may need to bleach out or use a color remover before dyeing.

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Once you know how to do this process, it will open up whole new worlds of fashion. Love that dress that’s on sale but hate the color? Dye it!

Take Care of Your Clothes

This tip especially applies if you are using quarters for washing and drying. It sounds like a great idea to save money by shoving as many clothes as you can in each load. However, this can lead to fading, color bleed, thinning fabric, loose threads, and other destruction that cheapens your look and forces you to buy new clothes more often.

Wash your delicates with delicates, not jeans. Wash your whites with whites. Read your clothing labels and use the correct water temperature. These extra steps save your clothes (and your money!) in the long run.

You can also save money by line drying when possible. Dryers are hard on clothes, so invest in a retractable clothes line or drying rack. Again, save your clothes and save on your laundry or utility expenses.

Invest Wisely in Quality Clothes

This sounds counter-intuitive, but you’ll really save money over time. Buying a high quality shirt once every three years is less expensive than buying a cheap one every six months. Stick with classic and timeless looks and colors that won’t go out of style.

Keep in mind, though, that high price does not equal high quality. Research brands and read reviews that discuss quality to make sure you’re really getting a worthwhile investment.

Invest Wisely in “Cheap” Clothes

Remember that it can still be worth it to have a few cheap tees in trendy colors and patterns or to wear around for sweaty chores. Just don’t expect them to last in good condition longer than a season or two.

This same principle can apply to things like flip flops. Many summer shoes get dirty and/or worn out in one season, so don’t overspend on something that you’ll get rid of in a few months.



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