There is no happier feeling, for a fashionista, than walking through the mall with a dozen shopping bags and a wallet thick with credit cards and new receipts. As you’re browsing through a store, you run your hand through a fringe leather jacket hanging on a display, feeling the texture. A sequin mini skirt dazzles in the light and catches your eye from across the room. A fuzzy pom pom cardigan sweater is calling your name from the hanger (you’ve been seeing them all over Instagram the last few weeks). A faux fur leopard print vest expertly styled on the mannequin looks like the ultimate statement piece. You slide, sign, and skip your way out the door with a grin on your face.
You get home from your shopping trip with a bag full of amazing pieces that you can’t wait to wear and, more importantly, post on your social media. You put on that cute sequin mini but soon realize that you have nothing in your closet that will look good with it. The faux fur leopard vest that won your heart begins to look tacky instead of bold. You second guess spending half of your pay check on pink fuzzy mules that you saw on someone else rocking on their fashion blog. The credit card bills begin to roll in from the previous month’s purchases and your bank account is in the red. You feel like a real life version of Rebecca Bloomwood from the movie “Confessions of a Shopaholic.”
How did you go so wrong? Your favorite fashion bloggers have hundreds of thousands of followers and what seems like a never ending closet. Even with all of the finds from your latest shopping trip, you will quickly run out of new outfits and money within a few weeks. How could you possibly keep up? There are many ways to stay under budget without compromising style.
A Broke Girl’s Guide to Shopping:
Top 10 Shopping and Styling Hacks
1. Do not incorporate all seasonal trends
A brand new issue of Vogue magazine arrived on your doorstep with a list of the top 20 fashion trends. The gorgeous pictures and glossy pages make your eyes fill with dollar signs. Just because you read an article about the top 20 must have fashion trends of the season, does not mean you have to adopt all of them into your wardrobe. Be selective with seasonal trends. Do your research of popular, new, fashion trends each season and pick out 3-5 that truly fit with your personal style. When you shop, keep in mind the styles you are looking for to avoid buying things you won’t end up wearing.
Another piece of advice when it comes to trendy items, is to always invest in a staple over a a trend. I recommend using a 2:1 ratio. For every one trendy piece that you buy, you should buy 2 staple pieces. You have to invest in things that will compliment trendy and bold pieces. It is not the most fun part of shopping, but having really good staple pieces will elevate your wardrobe. It will also allow you to create more outfits by mixing and matching.
2. Learn to utilize what is already hanging in your closet
Speaking of mixing and matching, pair new purchases with older items that are already hanging in your closet to get the most wear out of your wardrobe. Staple pieces have a longer lifetime and can be worn over and over again. Adding a trendy piece with a staple piece creates a modern look for the current season. Also, you are saving money if you are only purchasing half of an outfit. You already have a great pair of black denim (the staple) but you buy a trendy lace up cami to pair with it (the trend) to make a complete outfit. There is no reason to wear trend on trend on trend all within one outfit. It can go wrong very quickly and you spend excess money on things you don’t actually need to look fabulous.
3. Recycle the same pieces into new outfits
Not only should you mix new articles of clothing with old, but you should also find ways to bring old outfits out from the back of your closet. There are many unique ways to put a fresh spin on a piece you’ve already worn many times or an old item that you haven’t worn in years. Problem #1: you have a cute dress that you bought a few months ago and have already worn it on many occasions. Solution: put a shirt or sweater on top of it to make it look like a skirt and change up the look. Problem #2: you’ve been wearing the same pair of pants over and over again. They look boring and have zero interest. Solution: roll up the bottom to give it new life in a cropped length. Problem #3: you haven’t worn that t-shirt in several years and it has just been taking up space in your closet. Solution: wear a trendy scarf and vest on top of the t-shirt to make it look exciting again. These are just a few different scenarios of how to work with what you already have without buying any new items. Can you think of any ways you can dust off some old items and give them a new spin?
4. Give outdated trends new life
Do you still have a closet full of clothing that screams 2012? High low hemlines were all the rage a few years ago, but today they are no longer on trend. Instead of donating them, try altering the hemline. Cut off the low, mullet edge of the skirt and make it one length all the way around. Do it yourself or take it to a professional, but the end result will look more timeless and less like a tacky, has-been trend. While cold-shoulder tops are still wildly popular right now, next season or in several seasons from now, they may not be. These tops could easily be re-worn by throwing a cardigan or jacket on top of the shirt. You can’t tell it has cut-out shoulder details underneath these layers and it suddenly transforms from out-dated to wearable again. Use this as an inspiration and brainstorm about the old clothing that you don’t wear anymore because they’re so out-dated. No one will be able to the tell the difference or know what it looked like previously. You get more wears out of the pieces you already bought and you don’t have to spend any money on buying new pieces.
5. Solids, solids, solids
Solid colors are always classic. While on-trend colors change from season to season, as I mentioned in my post yesterday, “Color Outside the Lines,” they still tend to remain the same over time. This is especially true when compared to prints. While shopping, try to buy more solid colors and less printed fabrics. When you do buy a print, try to go for timeless ones such as leopard print or stripes. Trendy prints like Navajo (Native American inspired) or gingham checks have a limited lifetime. In a few seasons, they will quickly become outdated and no longer “cool” to wear.
Not only do prints become outdated, but they are also more easily recognizable in a photo. I mentioned ways to re-wear the same pieces and how to give old clothes new life in the above sections. However, prints can make that more challenging. If you already wore a printed dress in a photo, someone is more likely to remember the print because it stands out. You can’t get away with re-wearing it as easily. Similarly, there is not much point reviving an old piece in your closet if the print is outdated and many seasons old. Overall, solid colored clothing will get more wear than printed clothing throughout time. Consider this before buying a new printed item.
6. Use accessories to your advantage
As a rule of thumb, jewelry and accessories don’t go out of style as quickly as clothing. These items are good investment pieces and will get a long lifetime of wear. You can also use jewelry and accessories to easily change the entire vibe of an outfit. Use a belt to cinch in a flowy tent dress to create a completely different silhouette. Wear a statement necklace to change how the neckline of the garment looks. Sling a classic black cross-body bag over your shoulder to instantly make a trendy appear more timeless. Shoes can also completely change the overall look of an outfit. Dress it up with stiletto heeled booties or dress it down with slip on sneakers. Chances are, you probably already have a lot of these accessories so you won’t have to worry about dropping any extra cash to create new looks.
7. Avoid designer brands
When trying to save money, stay away from purchasing designer brands. The designer name or logo is generally worth more than the item itself. The signature Louis Vuitton letters in its logo makes the bag expensive. The same bag without the trademark is just another bag. People are willing to pay the steep prices to be able to have the bragging rights of owning one of these pieces.
Instead, shop the websites of your favorite brands and compile inspirational images. Then find similar, knockoff items made by other stores. This is the reality of fashion. Copying and mimicking is not only accepted by encouraged. All stores, no matter the price point, get their inspiration from other stores and brands. They adapt the styles by changing out the fabric and eliminating details to make their own cheaper versions.
If Burberry is selling a gorgeous black trench coat, I can guarantee that Express is selling something similar for much less. Use this type of competition as a way to save money. If you can get essentially the same style for less, why not buy the cheaper version? No will see the tag and be able to notice the difference. This method can work with staple pieces, but is most important for staying on budget when buying trendy pieces that you only plan to wear a few times. If you choose to take this advice, do not buy bags, shoes, or any items that have knockoff logos. They are easily identifiable and everyone will be able to tell the real from the fake.
8. Shop sales
Don’t overlook sales racks. They may not contain the most popular items or sizes, but if you take the time to sift through sales racks, you’re bound to uncover at least a few hidden gems. You get the style for only a fraction of the price. It is also a great way to get “more bang for your buck”- more items for the same amount of money.
Some stores are known for having annual and semi-annual sales, such as Nordstrom, Macy’s, Victoria’s Secret, and many more. There are also world-wide sales, such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday, where all competitive stores will participate and offer incredible deals. Be ahead of the game and know when these sales are going to occur. Plan out what you want to buy and wait for them to go on sale. It is an easy way to go home with a greater variety of options.
Another tactic is to shop at the end of a current season. Stores put seasonal items on sale roughly halfway through the season in order to prepare for the next. For example, summer styles begin to go on sale around mid-July to the beginning of August and fall styles are displayed in their place. Although the stores may be ready for fall, the summer season is still in full swing for another 1-3 months, depending on where you live, from that point in time. Why not use that to your advantage? This is an opportunity to buy some trendy pieces that you will still have time to get ample use out of.
9. Get creative with your photos
A picture is worth a thousand words. Use photography wisely and it can become a way to make the same piece appear differently. On social media, good photography makes it harder for someone to recognize that you’ve already worn that piece before and that it is not something new. A crop top that is plain from the front but has intricate cut-out detailing in the back could be photographed two different times and create completely different looks. A dress that has intricate lace on the top and a pleated skirt could be photographed as two separate halves instead of one complete ensemble. This technique allows you to generate more content out of each garment.
10. Be able to say “No”
An important skill that all fashionistas could benefit from learning, is how to say no and know when to walk away. We can all relate to that feeling of finding something sparkly that catches your eye and in the moment you simply can’t live without it. You spend more money than you planned, proudly display it in your closet, and then never wear it. You end up with a case of buyer’s remorse because over time you realize that those rhinestone stiletto heels are impractical. They’re too tall, too formal, and too uncomfortable for you to wear to any of the events that you have going on in your life. Instead, they sit at the bottom of your closet, collecting dust and reminding you of the money you wasted accompanied by a pang of guilt each time you see them.
The best way to avoid these feelings is to say no in the first place. One way to do this is to be cautious of impulsive purchasing. If you did not originally intend to buy the item, do you really need it? Put it back, walk away, and if you’re still thinking about it tomorrow, go back and buy it after you’ve given yourself time to make a good decision. Another suggestion is to picture yourself wearing the item three different ways before you buy it. What will you wear it with? Where will you wear it to? Who will see you slaying in it? If you can’t come up with at least three answers to these questions, don’t buy it because you will likely not get much use out it. Practice these tactics both with both online and in-store shopping because sometimes online shopping can be more impulsive than in-store shopping.
I will leave you with the best advice I have learned thus far as a fashion influencer, which is to fake it until you make it. If you can’t afford to spend a lot of money on clothing right now, find creative ways, like the ones listed above, to make the most out of your current wardrobe and be strategic with what you buy. The internet is all about perception. No one has to know that you bought it several years ago, especially if it’s a classic striped tee or little black booties. I encourage you to work with what you have and stick with it! Comment below if you’ve ever regretted buying something because you never (or hardly) ended up wearing it.
Until next time.