I’ll start with a confession: I was obsessed with fashion growing up. My favorite pastime consisted of devouring the latest issue of Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, or Cosmopolitan. I fantasized about having a wardrobe filled with all the clothing featured in each spread, and my ultimate life goal was to purchase a pair of Manolo Blahniks or Jimmy Choos.
After I got my first job, 70% of my money went towards buying clothes. (The other 30% went to ordering takeout. As I’ve mentioned before, saving wasn’t in my vocabulary back in the day.) I still wasn’t making enough to buy the expensive designer threads in the magazines, but I went for the second-best thing, which was buying items from “grown-up” brands like Bebe, Arden B., and Express.
When shopping at these stores, I spent anywhere from $60-$100 per item, but I didn’t bat an eye when handing my card over at checkout. I wanted to look good, and I was willing to pay for it. Never mind that years later, I no longer own most of those clothes, or even vaguely remember what was so special about them. Essentially, that’s hundreds of dollars down the drain for what was trendy and cool to my teenage self.
Nowadays, I’m much more intentional about the fashion I consume. I recently went to the mall and rolled my eyes when checking the price tags of most items, as they were all overly priced. I was there for more than two hours and purchased three items for less than $80.
Even with being intentional about buying clothes, I find myself frustrated when trying to be frugal and fashionable. I want to save money and get the best deals, but I also don’t want to deprive myself of wearing what fits my personal style just because of the price.
I’ve struggled to find a balance with being fashionable and frugal, so if there’s anyone out there like me, here are a few ways you may be able to have the best of both worlds.
Shop at Consignment Stores
Krystel of All She Saves swears by shopping at consignment stores. She says it’s the best way to buy barely worn clothes and still indulge in retail therapy. I’ll be honest; I haven’t had the best luck with browsing through consignment stores. I’m not sure if there’s an art to finding the true gems, but I never find anything that fits my style.
However, I do plan to attempt online consignment shopping. I’ve looked on Poshmark and found quite a few of the brands I used to obsess over as a teenager, at ridiculously discounted prices. I’m treading lightly with this, as my inner shopping addict is itching to come out and buy all the things, but I will keep you updated on when I make my first purchase!
Ask Friends if They’re Getting Rid of Old Clothes
Ironically, just days after going on a mini-rant about how outrageous it is for non-luxury brands to charge nearly $100 for a simple jumpsuit or dress, my coworker approached me. She had been purging her closet and had some old clothes she thought I might like.
Within moments, I had two new tops and two dresses for free, and I didn’t have to deal with a crowded mall or going in circles to find parking. Can you say #winning? In my younger days, I turned my nose up at accepting “hand-me-downs.” Now, I really can’t think of anything better than getting stylish clothes at no cost from people I know.
If you’re shy about asking friends or colleagues whether they’re getting rid of old clothes, casually mention that you’re looking to add to your wardrobe. Even paying them a compliment about their style gives a hint that you would be interested in taking unwanted pieces off their hands. A lot of people have perfectly good clothes they barely wear and just never get around to doing anything with. They’ll likely be thankful you saved them the hassle of taking a trip to the local thrift store!
Wait for a Clearance Sale
I’ll admit, one of my worst vices when it comes to shopping (or anything for that matter) is impatience. If I see something I want, I want it right then and there. Obviously, this is the exact kind of FOMO retailers are banking on. This is why they come up with tricky sales tactics like “This is the last day to get X% off of Y item!” (A salesperson literally said this to me and my husband while we were shopping over the weekend.) They want you to panic and buy that item before it’s GONE. FOREVER.
Well, I challenge you (and myself) to call their bluff. Wait a few weeks, or a month, and keep an eye on that purse or pair of shoes you want. Anyone who knows fashion knows that certain looks are only “in” for a season, and then they get cycled out with the newest trend. This means the thing that was going to be GONE FOREVER, is still available…at a heavily discounted price.
I’m practicing this tactic for myself. I saw this super cute jumpsuit at Express but refused to pay nearly $100 for it. I’m going to check back in the next month or so, and I’m anticipating it will be on clearance. If it is, it will be at least 25% less than it is now. If not, I’ll do some research and find a jumpsuit that’s just as cute and not as expensive.
Save for What You Want
This is a classic method to practicing delayed gratification, but it really does work. Similar to waiting for a clearance sale, there is some patience involved with this. If there’s a piece you simply have to add to your closet that’s also a bit pricey, set a goal date for when you want to make the purchase. Divide the total cost by the number of paychecks you’ll get during that timeframe and set aside increments until you reach that goal.
Years ago, I had my heart set on buying a new Michael Kors handbag, which was about $400. I wanted it really badly, and I was tempted to just swipe my credit card. However, this was at the beginning of my journey to be more financially responsible, so I decided against using credit. Instead, I decided I would save the money over the course of five pay periods (about two months) and then purchase the handbag.
Every paycheck, I put aside $80 and eventually bought the handbag. It wasn’t as painful as I thought it would be, and it was much more fulfilling to pay for it in cash. I’m not saying this is the easiest thing to do, but it does help to challenge the mindset that leads to impulsive spending.
How Do You Stay Fashionable but Frugal?
These are just a few ways I can think of to satisfy shopping habits without overspending, but I always love to hear how others do it. If there are any unique shopping hacks you use to supplement your wardrobe, please share!
Featured Image: Alexandra Maria
I love to shop at “Backstage” at Macy’s Frugal yes but I also get classic timeless pieces versus fashion trends.