- Look polished. Learn how to give yourself a great manicure (and pedicure, too) and the next time you get your hair cut, ask the stylist to teach you how to do a perfect blow out. Looking polished isn't something that has to cost a lot (or anything, if you already have the necessary supplies) but it goes a long way in boosting your self confidence, which will make you carry yourself better, and can make even the most bargain-y dress look amazing.
- Accessorize. Even if it is just a few bangles from a street vendor, accessorizing really can take a look to the next level and make that $20 outfit look like it cost WAY more.
- Switch it up. To me, one of the quickest ways to make a less expensive dress look like a really nice dress is to switch out the boring fabric belt (or cheap plastic one) that the dress came with for a great leather (or other funky material) one. You can find great belts on sale at a lot of places- one of my personal faves came from the Gap, on sale for just $3 from around $40. Another great place to look for belts is the thrift store- it's easy to find a "vintage" looking men's belt on the cheap!
- Shop your closet. Yes, we've all heard this a dozen times. I'm going to take this a step further, though. Invite a friend over for the afternoon (you can make a day out of it, and return the favor!) and have your friend look at your wardrobe. Sometimes, we look at our pieces as the "same old things" but with fresh eyes, you just may be able to come up with lots of fun new looks. Additionally, you can even take pictures to both help you remember those outfits (for when you're trying to get ready in a rush) , and see which ones are the most figure flattering.
- Consign, consign, consign. After you shop your closet, chances are, you'll find a few pieces that are in excellent condition, but that you've never worn for one reason or another. Take those to your local consignment shop-you may be able to make some of the money back for those items, and voila, more money for stuff you'll actually wear.
- Make a list. I can't stress this enough. One of my favorite things to do is to make a written list at the beginning of the season of things I really want to buy, and that my closet is currently lacking. If something is super trendy, I try to buy it on the cheap. If it's a classic staple that's missing, I'm willing to spend more for a lasting piece.
- Buy less. Simple concept, but it can save you a bundle. After you make that list, try your very hardest to stick to it. You're a lot more likely to love your wardrobe with the pieces you really wanted, rather than a bunch of things you just randomly bought in the meantime.
- Fit is everything. Yes, this isn't necessarily a way to save on clothes, but, let's face it. You won't wear clothes that don't fit, or are super unflattering. I know how tempting it is to buy clothes to fit the size you want to be, but do yourself a favor, and find clothes that fit the body you have now. Clothes can always be taken in, but there's no use in looking like you actually gained weight, especially when you're trying to lose, just because your clothes are too tight. Remember: no one ever sees the size tag except you!
- Maintain, maintain, maintain. Take care of the stuff you do have. Yes, it may be more expensive to take that silk dress you got at 75% off the original price to the dry cleaner, instead of washing it in the sink, but if it gets ruined, the money you spent (even if it was a bargain!) goes straight down the drain (or into the donation pile). Same goes for shoes. Take care of them. Nothing looks tackier than heels worn down to the metal inside the shoe. And that noise when you walk is similar to nails on a chalkboard. SO not chic. Take them into a cobbler or shoe repairman, and your heels will be good as new for about $10.
- If you crave designer clothes, but can't stomach the price tag, shop sample sales. If you live in NY, Chicago or LA, Racked is a great online resource for seeing which sample sales are worth fighting the crowds for, and which are a waste of time. If you're like me, and don't live in one of those cities, Gilt Groupe, Haute Look, and Rue La La should have a bookmark home on your computer!
- Buy stuff from chain stores only on sale. Yes, this sounds like such a simple thing, but here's a little trick I've figured out from years
in the trenchesof shopping experience. Stuff at stores like Gap go on sale so frequently, it makes no sense to pay full price. Many stores have 30% off days, and it seems like Gap.com has a 30% off sale going at least once a week. So check online before you buy in store. If it's a bigger ticket item, the $5 or $6 shipping is a small price to pay when you're saving a ton. Places like Gap are great for buying closet staples, and buying them on sale frees up more of your wardrobe to buy splurge trend items.
- And last but not least, only buy what you love. If what you love is a $10 striped shirt, or a $200 dress that you have to save for months to buy, you'll be so much happier with that item than 20 random ones. It's worth saving for something you adore, and something that you can pull out of the closet at a moment's notice and know you'll feel amazing in that outfit.
What are your favorite ways to shop on a smaller budget?