The common complaint of women that "I have nothing to wear," leaves most husbands puzzled as they stare at a closet filled with clothing and a wife who is dissatisfied with its contents. What we women really mean is that we have nothing new to wear. Adorning ourselves with the same tired outfits over and over makes dressing a bore, but keeping up with the latest trends in a struggling economy can be nearly impossible. If your wallet has betrayed your closet, let me share a few simple ways to stay stylish without breaking the bank.
Check Sales and Clearance.
This is my number one shopping tip: Never pay full price for anything. If there is a jacket you absolutely must have, wait until it goes on sale so you can buy it cheaper. Simply watching the sale bills will help you find great clothing bargains. An even better strategy is to check the clearance racks for markdown items. These racks are usually hidden near the rear of the store due to the fact that it is marketing strategy to place the newer, more expensive items near the entrance. Often times, new items can be purchased at a discounted price simply because they are almost out of season or haven’t sold well.
Shop Second Hand.
Department store prices can leave consumers with sticker shock, not to mention the damage designer brands can do to a budget! Thrift stores, Goodwill, and consignment shops are a fantastic alternative for finding stylish, name-brand clothing for cheap. Most thrift stores are selective when it comes to the items on their shelves and offer gently used, pre-owned clothing at a fraction of the original price. Shopping at second hand stores is not only resourceful, but can also give your closet a unique, vintage look.
For this strategy to work, you have got to be an early bird and willing to bargain. Most yard sales are held on weekends and are generally advertised in local papers. I recommend scanning the paper for yard sales promoting items you are interested in and plotting your route ahead of time. I also recommend shopping outside of your neighborhood and maybe even your hometown so you can avoid running into someone wearing their discarded red pumps. Another great yard sale tip is to offer to pay less than the asking price. If the seller refuses to accept your bid, you can always return to the yard sale later. If the item is still unsold near the end of the day, the seller may be much more willing to lower the price.
Another simple way to update your look without spending a fortune is by using accessories. Tired of that old blouse? Spice things up with a scarf. Scarves come in a variety of lengths, fabrics, colors and styles, and can be wrapped and tied in several different ways. Purchase a fashionable handbag or pair of shoes to complement an outfit you already have. Adding chunky necklaces or bright bangles is another option. Buying just a few pieces of cheap jewelry can add flavor to an otherwise bland outfit and can be a lot fun. The most wonderful thing about costume jewelry is that it is trendy and inexpensive. When the pieces go out of style, they can easily be replaced with the next season’s fad or held onto until they come back in style.
If your budget is too tight to afford even a few small additions to your wardrobe, let me share a little trick with you that I tried during my most penniless months. Make a pact with yourself not to wear anything in your closet twice until everything has been worn. As clothing is worn and washed, return the items to your closet by hanging them in the far end. This way you can easily keep track of what has already been worn. This is a great way to rediscover shirts and dresses that you once loved but have not worn in quite a while. Coworkers and girlfriends may even think you’ve purchased a new outfit. It is up to you whether to share the money-saving tip or keep this little fashion trick a secret.
Mix and Match.
If we are not careful, we can all fall into the routine of wearing the same top with the same skirt every time they are worn. After all, old faithfuls are the staple of a hurried lifestyle. However, if you are longing for something new but cannot afford it, then try something new instead of buying something new. Old items of clothing can seem new if paired with something different. If you typically pair your neutral shades with other neutrals, try mixing and matching strong colors with neutrals. While you will still want to follow basic fashion rules, experiment with pairing patterns with florals or solids with prints. Layering is another great way to make an old shirt look new by adding dimension and depth. Simply playing around with items you already own can bring life to an otherwise boring wardrobe without spending a dime.
If you are blessed with a circle of friends, organize a closet swap whereby each person sorts through their clothing, purses, shoes, and accessories and decides which items they are willing to part with. Then, everyone can get together with their unwanted items and trade. This can be done by planning the event ahead of time and having everything organized as if it were an actual store, which can provide the feel of a shopping trip without the spending. Or, the closet swap can be thrown together at the last minute and friends can sort through one another’s belongs like a fun scavenger hunt. This is a great way to help your sisters out and still walk away with several like-new items of your own.
When counting nickels and dimes to make ends meet, style should not have to be one of the sacrifices. It is possible to keep up with the fashion trends and still remain on budget. With a little creativity and planning, your wallet can be full, as well as your closet.