So many people have the misguided notion that it takes a ton of money to be chic, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Thankfully, chic women like Michelle Obama, Duchess Catherine (AKA Kate Middleton), Natalie Portman, Lauren Conrad, Eva Longoria and more have been spotted rocking items from stores frequented by people with average sized wallets. Although these women can afford to pair their Urban Outfitters hauls with pricier items, they can teach all of us a lesson in mixing and matching. To learn how to stretch your wardrobe budget, read on.
1. Thrift/Consignment stores are a shopper’s best friend: Forget Macklemore. Those of us who look fabulous on a dime have been shopping at these stores forever (In college, we had an awesome one on campus called The Bunker at which I spent many a Statistics class). It’s true, you have to commit some time to digging, but finding the diamond in the rough is so worth it. I once found a pair of Diesel jeans in great condition for $30. If you aren’t label conscious and just want to find some interesting threads, try thrift stores like Arc and Goodwill. These stores will accept most items, so you run the risk of finding items in not-so-great condition. Make sure to inspect everything before buying it. On the bright side, you can get five pairs of jeans for $20. If you care a little more about the condition of your hand-me-downs, consignment is a better option. People sell used clothing to these shops, so they are great for finding more well-known brands, and the clothing is in good condition.
2. Discount shopping: In recent years, Target has made quite a name for itself featuring lines by Jason Wu, John Paul Gaultier, Prabal Gurung and Philip Lam (launching Fall 2013) have all contributed collections to the retail giant. However, their regular line up from Mossimo, Merona, Sam and Libby and others garner a lot of compliments as well. Other retailers like Kohl’s, JC Penny and H&M also offer adorable clothes for less than $100 each. With other stores like Old Navy, Forever 21, The Buckle, Pac Sun and more, there are many places at which you can find great pieces for not a lot of Benjamins.
3. When someone messes up, we all benefit: Stores like TJ Maxx, Marshall’s and Ross are full of overstock merchandise that was ordered, but never sold. This happens a lot when buyers miscalculate the quantity that they think they can sell. As the fashion season turns, they need to unload the bulk, and pass it on to these stores. For those of us who don’t care if our Calvin Klein rain coat is “so last season,” it is a gold mine for finding super cute merchandise for a steal. Yes, these stores can seem somewhat dingy at times, but they are well worth it.
4. Outlet shopping is amazing: Outlet stores are other places in which overstocked items are unloaded to us cheapskates. However, some brands design items specifically for the outlet. To save a ton of money on name brand merchandise, these are a great place to go. If you must rock designer jeans, go to an outlet store and pick a timeless cut and wash, so you can wear them for a long time. Outlet malls are excellent resources for finding higher-end pieces to mix and match with your Old Navy gear.
5. The clearance section is amazing: If you can wait until the end of a season to buy new stuff, you can save money. Discount and sale sections feature end of season items that need to be moved before next season’s goods can be put on display. Although it can be difficult to find your size at times, keep looking. You may find your new favorite jacket, pair of jeans, pair of boots, etc. It is definitely worth it to check the clearance section of your favorite stores to see what kinds of steals you can add to your closet.
6. Don’t be afraid to splurge: Not many of us have access to Paris Hilton’s American Express Black card, but that doesn’t mean that we can never buy anything nice. While you definitely don’t want to make a habit out of buying Burberry trench coats on credit, luxury items are a great way to motivate yourself. If you want to lose 15 pounds, commit to “paying” yourself $20 a pound. Put it in a cookie jar or a savings account. By the time you’ve lost the weight, you’ll have $300 – enough for a new pair of True Religions. Saving for luxury items makes you appreciate them more than throwing them on plastic and letting the bills rack up until you can no longer pay them on time. It takes discipline to save money, so in addition to looking posh in your new coat, you will feel a sense of pride when you wear it. If you’re on a budget, splurge on things that are timeless rather than trendy, so you can keep them in your wardrobe for a long time.