How to Change Your Style on a Budget

Two Methods:Finding BargainsChoosing Clothes

Looking for a brand-new look, but coming up a little short on cash? Despite what you may see in the ads, you don't have to spend a fortune to give yourself a new "look." With a few easy style tips, you can look like a superstar on a bite-sized budget. Learn to become a bargain hunter and make the most of your clothing choices to reinvent your entire style on the cheap.

Method 1
Finding Bargains

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    Find your budget and stick to it. This is perhaps the most important part of the process. Before you begin, determine how much money you can reasonably spend on clothing. This can be anything from a few dollars to several hundred. It should be small enough that you have no problems buying the things you need (food, shelter, textbooks, etc.). Write this number down and stick to it as you are choosing clothing.
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    Head to outlets if you're looking for new clothes. Since you're looking to save money, avoid expensive malls and boutiques. Head to the outlets, which tend to have clothing that's just as good for a cheaper price.
    • Note that some outlet stores have the word "outlet" in their name (e.g., Gap Outlet) while others don't (e.g. Nordstrom Rack).
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    Be open to buying from second-hand stores. Don't get too attached to the idea that "good" clothes must be new. Often, unique, retro, and one-of-a-kind pieces are available for cheap at your local thrift shop. It can take a little "hunting" around to find clothes that work for you, but you'll save lots.
    • Second-hand stores include charitable organizations like Goodwill and the Salvation Army as well as non-charitable "thrift" stores.
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    Get free clothes from friends and family. The cheapest clothes of all are the ones you pay nothing for. Try organizing a clothes swap with your friends and family members. This is a great way to find clothes you wouldn't have thought of buying normally.
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    Look for bargains online. Online shopping makes it especially easy to find good deals on clothes. Today, most big-name clothing retailers allow you to research search results by price so you can find cheap options quick. You can even try sites like Ebay and Craigslist if you're comfortable wearing other peoples' clothes (which you are if you've been shopping at thrift stores).
    • Though you might be used to automatically saying "no" to online mailing lists, it can actually pay to sign up for lists at your favorite stores. This way, when a new sale or discount is offered, you'll know about it right away.
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    Take your time. Great bargains are rare. You may not see an exceptionally good deal every time you go shopping. This is fine. Be willing to occasionally go home empty-handed, knowing that you saved yourself from wasting money on something that wasn't right for you.

Method 2
Choosing Clothes

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    Pick specific fashion goals. Knowing what you want to look like before you go shopping will keep you from making unnecessary purchases. Figure out your fashion goal. Are you bored of your tomboy style and want to go for something more feminine? Do you want to bring more color to your drab look? Questions like these can help you determine your goals.
    • If you're having trouble, write down the names of people (these can be famous people or people you know) whose style you really like. Describe each person's typical outfit and determine how you can match this look.
    • You can also look at fashion magazines in the library or while you are waiting to check out of the grocery store. Note which styles you feel best about.
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    Stick to simpler but more versatile choices. While it can be tempting to buy something like a gaudy studded leather jacket at the thrift store, since you can't wear it very often, you're not spending your money wisely. Instead, opt for simple clothes that look good in many situations. You can use ostentatious accessories to give your wardrobe a little pizzazz when the time is right.
    • To start, you'll want a few good-fitting pairs of jeans, some neutral-colored shirts, a few sweaters or sweatshirts, and perhaps a jacket. These pieces should be dignified and timeless so you can get a long life out of them.
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    Look for opportunities to re-work the clothes you already own. Making a few changes to an old piece of clothing can make it look brand new. For starters, try decorating your clothes with pins, ribbons, sequins, gems, and other things you may have lying around. Fabric markers (which are usually reasonably cheap) can also let you treat your clothing like a canvas for your artistic creativity.
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    Buy quality, not quantity. A good general rule is to spend twice as much on each piece of clothing, but buy half as many pieces as you used to. This way, you get higher-quality clothing without spending any extra money. You can even save money in the long run if you ordinarily wear lots of clothing out — higher-quality clothing usually lasts longer.
    • Having fewer clothes means you'll need to be a little more creative with your outfits. Investing in a few cheap accessories from a thrift store can keep things varied for a minimal cost.
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    Be open to DIY projects. What's cheaper than buying your clothing used? Making it yourself. You don't have to be a master tailor to make your own clothes — numerous how-to guides available online can help you here.
    • Our article on making clothing is a great place to start for DIY projects. If you're looking for how to make a specific piece of clothing, try searching for it here or on your favorite search engine.
    • Consider learning how to sew. Not only is it a fun hobby, but also something that makes it much easier to make your own clothes. This can also be useful for altering bad-fitting outfits bought at thrift stores.

Article Info

Categories: Budget Fashion