How to Build a Fashionable Wardrobe without Going Broke

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You don’t have to sacrifice your fashion while you’ll getting control of your finances. And, as crazy as it may sound, you can still have a fashionable wardrobe on a budget.

Over the past few years, I’ve employed several practices to upgrade my wardrobe without breaking the bank.

Check out my five tips for building a budget friendly wardrobe.

5 Tips for Building a Fashionable Wardrobe on a Budget

1. Purchase quality over quantity

If you’re going to spend money on your wardrobe, it’s best spent on items that are of quality. If you invest in quality clothes upfront, it will save you coins in the long run.

Instead of purchasing cheaper items more frequently, purchase fewer items of quality that will last a lot longer.

Quality does’t mean expensive. There are tons of ways that you can get quality items for less (I share more later).

The most straightforward way, however, is to look for items that are on sale, clearance, are sold at discount stores.

Shopping Discount Stores

Discount stores sell the exact same items that your regular department stores sell. Having worked for a clothing company, I know firsthand that discount stores like TJ Maxx, Marshalls, Burlington, and SteinMart all purchase from the same catalogs as full priced stores.

Save yourself some coins and shop at your discount stores for quality items before you pay full price!

Take Care of your Items

The key is to not only purchase great quality for less, but to also do your part in taking care of them. That is code for “read the care label.” 

I admittedly have items in my closet from over 10 years ago that I still wear because I’ve taken care of them and because they are timeless pieces.

2. Buy staple & timeless pieces

Just because an item will last 10 years doesn’t mean that you should buy it. Instead, invest in staple and timeless pieces that will still be on trend as time passes.

When adding items to my wardrobe I tend to look for things that I’m completely in love with that I can see myself wearing years from now. I also shy away from items that are specific to occasions or current trends.

For example, instead of purchasing an ugly Christmas sweater, I’ll buy a red sweater instead. Not only is it something that I can wear throughout the years, but I’m not wasting money on something that has limited wear time.

If you’re not sure what staple pieces to add to your wardrobe, you can check out this interview that I did with style expert, Varnessa Bails.

In the interview, she shares the staple pieces that every woman should have for a complete & timeless wardrobe.

3. Find an affordable seamstress

A significant part of ensuring that your quality pieces have longevity is having a seamstress.

Let’s be honest… Our bodies change over time, so if you want your clothes to stick with you, you’ll need to find a reputable seamstress that can make necessary adjustments.

Most manufactures of quality clothes will leave room for adjustments to be made to your items. So, with the right seamstress (or tailor), you’ll be able to really have timeless garments.

Even as a hobbyist seamstress, I take my quality garments to another trusted streamstress who adjusts my garments to my needs at the time.

You can always do a quick Google search for local steamstresses and tailors in your area; however, I find that referrals from others are always better. Make sure your cloths are going into good, affordable hands.

4. Thrift from reputable places

My first time shopping consignment was a few years ago. I did it on a whim, but actually left with some quality pieces for less. Though its not my go-to, I’ve been able to find several quality pieces that haven’t broken the bank.

Outside of shopping the clearance & sales racks, I’ve recently began thrifting. Now, this isn’t thrifting in the traditional sense. Instead of heading to a Goodwill or other donation center, I’ve sought out online and local consignment shops.

I shared a few items on social media that I purchased from a friend’s Facebook consignment shop. Because I know that her pieces are quality and that she takes care of them, I had no qualms with purchasing her new or gently worn items. 

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#MoneyTip: A garment on sale is still the same garment that it was full price. ???Save your coins, sis! ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ After working in the garment industry and sewing my own clothes, I learned to never pay the first price that you see. There will ALWAYS be opportunities for sales if you’re patient. And if you miss it, my thought is that it wasn’t meant to be ??‍♀️ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Be a smart and frugal shopper. You can definitely look chic for less! ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ I grabbed these cute numbers for a deal from my very fashionable friend @varnessabails for a fraction of their retail price. One item has never been worn and the other has only been worn once. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ This was a win-win for several reasons: ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ☝?I was able to grab some cute fall pieces within my shopping budget for this pay period ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ✌?I didn’t go through the hassle and dread of trying to shop in store? ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ☝?✌? By purchasing these items, I was able to contribute to whatever financial goals my friend has and that’s a worthy cause. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ I’m terrible at thrift store shopping, but don’t mind taking well cared for garments off of my friends’ hands. What about you? How do you save on clothes?

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Where to find reputable places to thrift

Places like Poshmark make it possible for you to do the same online with sellers from all over. I suggest asking tons of questions, checking out reviews, and taking a good look at the photos to determine if their items are worth purchasing.

If you have friends with a similar style and size as you, consider doing an annual clothes swap once you’ve don’t your spring cleaning!

5. Purchase off season

One of the oldest money saving tips when it comes to building a wardrobe is buying off season. This is especially true if you’re puchasing designer items.

Everything is cheaper when its not high in demand! (Think candy the day after Halloween).

You can do this is by purchasing your winter clothes when stores are transitioning to spring & summer collections and vice versa. Trust me, you can get a swimsuit at a steal during the winter! 

Buying off season does come with its risk. You may not be able to get that one item that was extremely popular in season or they may not have your size.

Nonetheless, you’re bound to find something that you like and will be a great addition to your wardrobe.

Save on your purchases

My recommendation is to do this off season shopping online. Typically, you’ll find them on clearance. I recommend online because you can use a site like Ebates to get cash back on your purchases and RetailMeNot to find additional coupons.

Using this method, I’ve earned over $300 in cash back! It’s the best of both worlds— saving money and earning at the same time!

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