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Looking Fashionable on a Budget

It’s said that looking good lends to feeling good. So how does one keep up with the latest fashion while not exceeding your budget? For some, it’s simple and for others, it’s simply not. Here are some helpful tips to keep you looking great without emptying your wallet.

The primary question is “What % of your budget should you spend on fashion?” Of course, this depends on your income but the collective financial guideline is the 5% Rule.

  • Multiply your monthly income amount (after taxes) by .05

This will give you the monthly amount you should not exceed for apparel. For example, if your monthly take home is $3,500, your monthly clothing budget would be $175.  There is always relativity. With this in mind, come up with a monthly amount that’s right for you according to your circumstances. Using an app to create and maintain your budget may make it easier and maximize efficiency.


Identify the clothing items that you really want. Make a list of these items and their actual cost. Spend less by buying fewer things. Quality items that last and look great on you are your goal. Keep the classics in mind, the items you wear all the time. The black dress or pair of jeans that you can dress either up or down. Embellishing the trends through accessorizing is a way to limit costs.


Many of us are not aware of all the items we have in our current wardrobe. It’s time to take inventory! Don’t purchase something that you already have in your closet! It happens.

Sell, trade, or donate all the clothing you do not wear. There are many apps that allow you to resell your wardrobe while acquiring some items for yourself. Mercari, Poshmark, and Tradesy are only a few.  You may be surprised at how much you can make by selling your quality unwanted clothing items.


If you are a person who prefers online shopping…

Familiarize yourself with many of the available apps so you can choose the top few that work for you.

Select ones that allow you to maximize what you get for the amount you spend relative to your fashion choices.

Rent the Runway, Gilt and Zara are very popular but there are so many. Rent the Runway consists of a monthly membership that provides the shopper with a constantly rotating wardrobe having over 500 designers.  Zara is one of the easiest to use and it also has a built-in scanner that provides instant information when shopping in store. Apps provide real time reminders of when sales start and your wish-list items availability.  App-usage, such as Frugal Fashionista and the Budget Babe also allows your browsing to keep you abreast of current deals, trends, and savings. Although online shopping can have great deals, do it sparingly because we often make inappropriate, unexpected purchases. In short, it is common for us to stray from our budget while making online purchases.


Those that prefer in-store shopping benefit from going to the stores regularly. Especially with stores such as Marshall’s or Ross that can be categorized as ‘hit or miss.’ We all know that the better the deal is, the faster the item sells out. Checking clearance items and in-store sales can land you some great bargains if you shop the stores regularly.  Don’t forget the consignment shops. They can also be categorized as ‘hit or miss,’ but are definitely worth the browsing.


Bridge lines are discount brands offering designer labels and style for a lower price – Vera Wang, Michael Kors and Jason Wu to name a few.  These are found in stores that purchase end of season extras such as Ross, Marshall’s and T.J. Maxx.  Research the current, available discounts – online versus in-store, credit card rebates, etc.  You have to know what discounts are available in order to use them. Many of us will not do this on a regular basis but please do it prior to planned shopping.

Knowing what you truly like and dislike is half the battle. We sometimes make a purchase that ends up being unsatisfactory, so we then purchase another and so on. Purchase clothing that’s your actual size instead of your ‘goal’ size. Find out which styles compliment your appearance and which ones do not. Remember that the ‘fit’ of the clothing is key. Having a good tailor is a tool not discussed often.

Try these simple tips on your next run shopping and you may be amazed at the outcome regarding your appearance. I promise you will decrease the amount you spend on clothing purchases in an effort to look fabulous.