Fashion on a Budget

I know I’ve made a distinction between fashion and style, so maybe I should title this Style on a Budget, but I like the sound of it as is, so I’m sticking to it.

Now I realize that not all of us wake up rolling in a pile of hundred dollar bills, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be fashionable, or more importantly, stylish. I’ve written here about having basics – your “go-to” pieces that go with EVERYTHING, and those are the pieces you want to invest in. Buy the best quality neutral colored, basic trousers, skirts and jackets that you can afford. These are the pieces that you’ll wear for years to come and you want them to last. (There’s no saying though, if you’re on a tight budget, that you can’t still buy these items on Nordstrom’s sale rack). Not only do you want them to last, but the higher priced stores generally use better fabrics, (which drape better and are more flattering) and offer a better cut (also, more flattering). The cut is simply the pattern the designer uses
to cut the pieces – they’re designers for a reason. They know what they’re doing.

But do you have to spend a fortune on pieces that make a splash? The answer is, simply… No! Particularly if you’re looking for something trendy, something that will be out of style next season, it would be silly to spend a fortune on it (unless, of course, you’re tired of sleeping on the crinkly, poky, uncomfortable pile of hundred dollar bills).

What’s with this “items that make a splash?,” you ask. These are the items with memorable details, something that makes your mouth water when you see it, something you HAVE to HAVE, but can’t wear everyday. These are the items that give you the unique sense of style that makes you memorable. Not something you can wear everyday, just something that screams, “Me!!” to you. If you don’t know this feeling, you are missing out!!!! (and need to go shopping with a friend whose style you admire, someone who knows you well, or…me, if you’re in the Denver area).

First let me say, this is IMPORTANT!!!!! – don’t let the thrill of the chase and the bargain prices distract you. I don’t care if you only paid $3.00 for it – if you never wear it, it’s NOT a bargain. That being said, the first place I head to in ANY clothing store, is the sale rack. They’re usually at the back of the store. I’ve found some real gems on the sale racks. I know that Sears, in the last few years, has out-of-this-world end-of-season sales and I’ve found great stuff there. Keep in mind that they will run, on specific days (ask a sales associate if it’s not happening while you’re there) an extra percentage off – sometimes up to an additional 75%.  Some of the larger, high end department stores have an entire room dedicated to clothing on sale. If you’re in a store and not seeing a clearance rack, ask a sales associate, chances are you’ve landed on one of these gold mines.

I adore going to places like Kohl’s, TJ Maxx, Nordstrom’s Rack (this might also be a good place to get some basic pieces on a budget. Good quality stuff there), and Ross’. I got my absolute favorite top, that people always tell me they LOVE, at Kohl’s, for something like $15.00. I absolutely love it too, and I feel fabulous in it. It’s my “first date with a hunky guy, going out on the town, I want to know I look my absolute best” go-to piece.  Any outlet store is a boon to me, but you have to be careful with any of these bargain stores (including the clearance rack at high end stores). Sometimes the items there have big, noticeable flaws and you want to make sure you don’t fall in love with one of those. Although, if you do find something you love, that maybe has a broken zipper or something “mendable,” you can ask the store manager for a discount and many times you’ll get it. Then take it to your dry cleaner (they usually have or know of a good seamstress) to have it replaced.

Another caveat about these places – the mirrors are not always the most flattering. My best advice – ignore the mirror! Just kidding, but don’t let it ruin your self image – you don’t really look like that. My best advice is…look at yourself in what you came in wearing before you try on any clothes. This will give you an idea of what distortion you’re dealing with in this particular mirror. Then keep it in mind. If your tush looks huge in what you came in wearing (and I know if you’ve been following me here, you’re wearing something flattering to your figure so your tush doesn’t look huge in real life), then if whatever trouser/skirt/jeans you try on make it look smaller or the same size as what you came in wearing, you’ve to yourself a winner!!! Easy as pie!

What I love about outlet stores, but especially about places like Ross’, TJ Maxx, Kohl’s and similar stores, is the huge variety they offer. I’m not sure if they’re a time-saver, but we’re talking about budgets here, not time, right? These places are also AMAZING for finding accessories on the cheap – bags, shoes, belts, etc. I also like  thrift shops for bags and belts (only buy shoes there if they’re gently, or preferably, not-at-all used, as everyone has a different gait and once they’re broken in to that gait, you can’t “unbreak” them).

If you’re wanting something trendy, that’s all the rage this season but will cause you to look “dated” next year, go to someplace like Walmart or KMart. Both of these stores have some really high quality, cute stuff these days and Target’s also a good place to look, but don’t break the bank on something you won’t be able to wear next year.

Friday was, officially, the first day of Autumn. Time to dig out those sweaters and boots. Also the perfect time to go buy a few special pieces to add some splash to last years’ wardrobe. I hope I’ve given you some inspiration. Go. Buy. Enjoy! You deserve to be treated special! Don’t you? Of course you do! Go hit some of my favorite haunts! Nothing makes it easier for me to get out of bed than knowing I have a great new… (fill in the blank here) to wear.

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