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Are you looking for ideas on how you can present yourself well on a budget?
Maybe you’re looking for name-brand merchandise or just places that you can get quality clothing.
I can help you do just that.
As a woman myself, I can relate. I want outfits that are flattering but don’t have a huge price tag attached to them.
Within this article, I am going to provide you some insight into what I have done in the past to increase my options while using a frugal mentality.
I will present you my guide to frugal fashion for the working and casual woman.
#1 – Capsule Wardrobe – Mix & Match.
Before I go into specifics, let’s first discuss the #1 method that helps keep costs down. I have a small closet, which is great because it lends itself to having a small selection of clothing.
The premise here is that you don’t have to own many pieces to make your wardrobe work for you.
Think capsule wardrobe – a small selection (about 30) of versatile pieces that can be mixed and matched.
This allows for quality pieces that can be worn over and over.
Who doesn’t appreciate the value in that?
I follow a fashion blogger that recently mentioned that many people had asked her about a particular sweater she was wearing. She had worn the same sweater in two separate photo ops. From the feedback she was receiving, they thought it was a different sweater and wanted to know the details of the one from the second outing.
Why did they think that?
Because she styled her looks differently. It was the same sweater, just worn in a new way. When you have the core pieces in your wardrobe, you can use styling to make your outfit look refreshed!
#2 – Buying Name-Brand Clothing On Sale Or Clearance.
Many frugal shoppers may think that the only way to get reasonably priced clothing is to purchase them from Target or an off-brand store.
There’s nothing wrong with that, but there are other options out there if you are seeking them.
Many name-brand retailers in an effort to attract consumers in a highly competitive market, resort to offering tempting clothing deals.
Of course, the best deal will always be what’s on sale or clearance.
That’s just fine because concessions can be made.
A viable option is to wait a few weeks for the merchandise to turn over.
At that point, the resulting sales have a higher chance of ultimately fitting into the budget.
The term clearance normally describes items that are either discontinued or final sale. This is likely because these clothing options are the very last picks from the prior season.
Growing up, my frugal Mom always took me to shop at GAP or a discount name-brand store. I remember several birthday occasions of “pick whatever you want, but only from the sale rack” – and this was in Vietnamese mind you. That rack in the back of the store was “where it was at” when I went shopping.
It didn’t matter where, I never paid full price. In my early to mid 20’s, I went with what was comfortable, which was back to GAP and only for sale merchandise. Though, it wasn’t until my late 20’s that I started looking for alternatives.
For a period of time, I compared and explored my options and found I had an interest in J. Crew and Madewell.
This was at the time of my job change when I needed more professional looking pieces for work. Ultimately, anytime I shopped at these retailers, it was for the sales.
Today, most of my small wardrobe is from these stores.
I would be able to wear certain pieces for work and transition them to everyday wear for trekking around town.
If you are looking for fashionable office and casual clothing, check out J. Crew during the times they have 40%-50% off sales. Madewell is the sister company of J.Crew, so they have the same type of sales. An added bonus, if you are a teacher you can take an additional 15% off your total if you shop in-store.
Just to give you an example, if I ever find something that’s a really good deal, I buy a few of the same pieces.
I purchased 3 pairs of these pants in black for $18/each from J.Crew back in 2015. Yes, $18! They were a versatile addition to my wardrobe. I could wear them to work, travel, out and about – it’s an A+ in value!
Three is the lucky number. Except, I have them all in black.
The aforementioned stores pertain to my style and how I manage these types of purchases in a frugal manner.
Ultimately, there are many stores out there that sell name-brand merchandise that are viable options when buying on sale or clearance.
Continue on for more ideas that may help you on your quest for frugal fashion…
#3 – Second-Hand Clothing And Resale Potential.
An added plus of shopping at name-brand stores like J. Crew and Madewell is that the clothing maintains high resale potential.
These brands sell really well on second-hand platforms such as Poshmark and eBay.
If you wear and take good care of your clothing, it would be a good option to get further value from a sale piece that you purchased. There is a sizeable and active market for this type of merchandise.
Related article: Selling Your Goods Online For Extra Money + Intro to Poshmark
On the same token, you can also use these platforms to purchase second-hand clothing as well.
The clothing you would get from using this option would be by far the most affordable.
Beyond this, the selection is unbeatable.
While retailers will only carry a certain item for a season, the second-hand platforms will see various options return consistently for years. Back in 2013 and 2014, I used these platforms in order to get some pieces that I needed for work such as blazers and dress pants.
There is tremendous value in opting for second-hand clothing.
If you use Poshmark you will notice that they are very customer-focused, so they are going to guarantee that you have a great experience as a buyer.
Another option for thrifty, secondhand finds is Thredup – A Thrift & Consignment online store.
From the reviews I have read, selling your items to ThredUp probably isn’t the best option due to the low payouts.
Though, I perused the website and the clothing prices are unbeatable for buyers!
The difference between Poshmark and ThredUp is that the former showcases fashions from people like you and me. Posh gets a 20% cut and that’s how they make money.
With ThredUp, the customer sells their clothes to them and they turn around and resell them. I have experience with Posh, but I am new to learning about ThredUp, so I thought I would share!
#4 – Outlet Shopping & Department Stores.
Outlet store merchandise is a good alternative. If you are looking for fashionable clothing at a slightly lower price point this is where it’s at. The resale potential isn’t as good here, but the prices may make up for it.
Keep in mind that most outlet stores have clothing manufactured specifically to be sold at a discounted price point.
When you have lower retail prices, inherently the quality goes down. I have pieces from outlet stores and they hold up, but the difference is obvious.
You may be familiar with the following outlet stores » Nordstrom Rack, Last Call, and Saks Off Fifth.
Nordstrom Rack by far seems to be the most popular and people seem to rave about it.
From my experience, if I shop in the outlet stores, I go to the factory version of the following: J. Crew, Banana Republic, or Talbots.
Regardless, I always buy from the sale section when I visit these stores because this woman here does not like to pay full price for clothing.
As for department stores, there are always a plethora of options and brands to choose from. Recently, I walked through Macy’s and found myself perusing the racks. The variety is a large plus in these types of stores, so it is great for all types of women, for work and play.
I have a couple of jackets I purchased from Macy’s and I plan on having for a long time – all name brands at reasonable prices.
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#5 – Renting Can Be A Solution.
Clothing rentals are a cost-effective solution depending on your circumstance.
These services provide for varied options that leave you with no need to commit to an item of clothing.
Maybe you have a small closet and don’t have much need to wear fashionable clothing.
There might be a time and place such as an interview, a gala, or social event that you need to attend that requires that you dress more fashion forward.
Of course, what is the value in purchasing a $500 gown for one night? At this point, renting a designer dress for the evening sounds like a great solution. At Rent The Runway, you can do just that – from as low as $30.
These days, RTR has broadened into everyday clothing and accessories, along with having the perfect outfit for a special occasion.
Check it out if you are ever in need of a short-term outfit!
The Bottom Line
As with all permanent purchases, in order to seek out the best sales and deals, timing is everything. The best time to shop is at the end of the season because retailers start cycling in the new merchandise to replace the old offerings.
If you are brave, you can stick it out for the merchandise that is likely to be final sale. This is a great option if you have already tried out the product in-store and are just waiting for the last price drop.
As a reminder, a great way to start is to go through your current selections and choose your capsule wardrobe. Anything left over, consider if you would want to try your hand at selling online or donating.
If you are needing something to fill a spot in your wardrobe, keep an eye out for sales by subscribing to the retailer’s newsletter.
This allows you to be “in the know“. Which leads me to my last point – watch closely for the item(s) to go on sale, whether it is in-store or online, and when it does, it’s time to pounce!
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A Way To Earn Money While You Shop
To get the most value out of making online purchases – I use Ebates. This method allows me to receive cash back for what I would buy anyway.
The process I use for online shopping:
When I am ready to make a purchase, I go to Ebates.com, log in to my account, and type in the retailer. If it is within the Ebates network it will come up with an option to click-through to the retailer. Once on the retailer’s website, I proceed as normal and add items to my cart and make payment. Once Ebates has verified the purchase, I receive the cash back into my Ebates account.
The percentages advertised will vary for each retailer.
For instance, shopping online at J. Crew may get you 5% back on your total prior to shipping and taxes. These funds accumulate in your Ebates account, and a check or online payment is issued at a designated time after each quarter when if you have an account balance of at least $5.01. It’s a good option for a busy season of purchasing either gifts or online goods. Ebates has a wide network of retailers for online shopping and select options for use in-store.
Tip: With my Ebates link, you will receive $10 after making your first $25 purchase.
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Readers, I’m curious, what are your frugal shopping methods? Please share in the comments below!