My three posts have been there for a while, and they were getting lonely, so I decided to add another to the family.
While I am working full-time and in graduate school, my Poshmark closet and this blog can take a slight backseat, meaning, I rarely have time to post. Some of the tips here have helped me tremendously through my own journey to streamline and simplify my life.
As I’ve written about before, a Capsule Wardrobe has tremendously improved my life. For one, it’s easier to get dressed in the morning. For another, you know that each and everything you own was picked out with care, and you love it. Finally, it keeps you from 1) impulse buying, and 2) not using what you have.
Some of the ways I have trained myself to remain fashionable and stylish on the budget have boosted my self-esteem and confidence, made me feel confident in both my school and work environments, and generally, have given me great joy, as I genuinely love designer fashion, regular fashion, and styling outfits for myself and other people.
- Thrift and Consignment Stores are your friends
I could go on about this forever, but I’ll keep it simple. I, for one, love a deal, and I think most of you know what I mean! The thrill of finding something like a DVF wrap dress in your local church thrift store for $20 will never get old. I love high-quality materials, like leather, tweed, wool, and designer brands. In fact, after lusting after a pair of Stuart Weitzman Lowlands for about 3 years, I pulled the trigger on these boots after finding a pair, gently used and in my size, on Poshmark for $153. These boots cost $795 new, and the quality makes it worth the price. Plus, they will last for years to come, and go with every outfit! Check out your local Salvation Army, Goodwill, and thrift stores; more likely than not, they have “Deal Days”, where certain items are 1/2 off, or fill-a-bag days.
Other amazing things I have found (some of which I have sold) from thrift or consignment shops: the aforementioned DVF wrap dress, a pair of vintage Gucci horsebit loafers, Prada pumps, two Escada blazers, multiple pairs of Frye boots, a Dooney & Burke purse, a Patricia Nash bag, Christian Dior silk top, Christian Dior silk slip, and countless other treasures.
- Pay to fix items you aren’t wearing
See: me, thrift-a-holic, buying other people’s discards. Sometimes, I’d get home and realize, this great top which I was so excited about has a stain, or this plush cashmere sweater has a hole in it. Both of these things have happened to me multiple times, by the way. Sometimes, you have to cut your losses, re-donate and move on, but oftentimes, you can fix whatever it is that’s wrong.
For example, I own a great B.B Dakota navy blue trench coat, which fulfills my fashionista desire to own a trench coat, but for ONE YEAR I didn’t wear it because it was missing a button. I had the button, kept safely tucked away in my jewelry box, but I didn’t wear it. Now, I do, and it’s because I fixed it. $15 for a $200 trench coat with a missing button, in the pocket- I’ll take it.
On a similar strain, I had a pair of vintage cowboy boots my mom bought in high school I didn’t wear because the lining was ripped and the soles were shot. $90 to resole later, and my boots look brand new, and will be an heirloom for my daughter one day. Ditto to the $80 Sabrina Frye boots I bought at a consignment store, retail $298- I resoled them through the Frye company, and they even sent me replacement shoelaces for free, all for $35.
Learning to sew helps with this, a lot. For example, I sewed the zipper back into a vintage velvet dress I love to wear around the holidays, and which I wore onstage during Miss Vermont USA in 2014. It has sentimental meaning, and, again, I hadn’t worn it in about 3 years because of the broken zipper. After hosting a pile of clothes and shoes which were all in need of repair, I finally bit the bullet, put on The Imposters on Netflix (highly recommend), and fixed or repaired all of the items I could. Anything else, like the bracelet my father gave my mother while dating but didn’t fit my wrist, I sent to the cobbler or the jeweler, and called it a day. Things I no longer wanted, I donated.
- Organize your damn closet
I can’t even describe to you how much stuff I didn’t wear the first few times I started preparing to build a Capsule Wardrobe. It’s like, I kept reaching to the back of my closet, and things kept coming out. Now, I maintain a capsule closet of about 60 items per Fall/Winter and 60 per Spring/Summer, and it’s made it SO much easier for me to get dressed every morning. I reach for one thing, which is in my plain sight, bend down, pick out shoes, and poof, done. You’re going to find things you didn’t even know you had in there.
I made a list of items I wanted to buy to “complete” my Fall/Winter Capsule (pictures of which I will do in a later post, as I have no idea how to make a cool template thingy like other bloggers yet!). Things on this list included: white t-shirt, black flats, trench coat, etc. Well, lo and behold, when I organized my closet, not only did I find those items, I found more than I even needed, and gave most of it away, or sold it on Poshmark.
The other thing is, don’t let Apartment Therapy or anyone else fool you; you do not need a built-it or a walk-in closet to have a clean, organized and efficient closet. I bought most of the baskets and plastic bins I use for mine at thrift stores, where wicker baskets are between $1-$3, compared to Home Goods, where they’re $10-$30, and at discount stores.
Now, every time I open my closet, I breath a sigh of relief that I know what’s in there, and can find everything I’m looking for!
- Subscribe to Vogue
Seriously, do it. You won’t regret it. I have paid $10 for 12 issues of Vogue a year since I was 23. I can’t live without it. The reason? It educates you on designers and fashion trends for the upcoming season, and allows you to feel indulgent. If you buy it in the checkout line, guess what? You’ll be paying about $6 an issue- crazy! I use it to get ideas about styles and what’s going on in the fashion world, then go to the thrift store, and replicate it.
Two such things I did like this recently: boxy blazers and leopard print. Both of these are all over the pages of Vogue for fall, and they both can be found in your friendly neighborhood thrift store. Another huge trend for fall are bright colored coats. Guess when this was also a trend? The 1980s! If you stop by your local thrift store, you will find DOZENS of these coats.
- Learn how to take care of your clothes
The Golden Girl, Jess Keyes, does a great post on this. For one, never, ever wash your clothes on hot or even warm; those settings should be reserved only for towels, linens, rugs and bed items. Secondly, don’t over stuff your washer; your items will come out wrinkly, and won’t get properly cleaned! Thirdly, learn how to stain treat. A handy Google search will yield hundreds of tips on how to do this, but you can also educate yourself. For example, I have found that soaking anything in Oxyclean removes 99% of stains, brightens whites, and makes everything cleaner.
Finally, dry clean only doesn’t always mean dry clean only. You can spot treat silk, re-condition the leather handbag straps on a canvas totes ( I have done this with my favorite L.L. Bean tote, and it works fine). Another great investment? Dryel. Thank me later.
- Clothes Swap with your friends
I am a big proponent of giving old clothes you no longer wear to your friends, if you’re not selling them on Poshmark or Ebay. I have had many dresses, shoes and items of clothing I have gifted to friends because they no longer fit me or I didn’t wear them. Host a clothes swap party, where a bunch of girlfriends clean out their closets, and swap with one another. Everyone can leave with something new to them, and give away things they no longer need. Win-win!
- Keep up with your beauty rituals
Many times when we start a budget plan, the obvious first expense we cut are our beauty rituals, like going to a salon to get your hair done, having your nails done once a week, or having a facial once a month. I don’t believe that anything you can do at home will be as good as what a professional does, unless you are a professional yourself, but I do believe that you can maintain your appearance very well with some help.
First, think of this: the gorgeous and timeless Dita Von Tesse won’t let anyone do her hair or makeup, and has dyed her naturally blond hair black for years. That amazes me; here is a famous celebrity who has educated herself so well on hair and makeup and so, she won’t let anyone else do it.
For me, I switched to balayage when I get my hair done, instead of dying the full head of hair or getting highlights. Now, I go twice a year, and get one trim in between. This has saved me $100s of dollars, and my hair color looks great year round, because I routinely deep condition and rarely use hot tools. Now, if you have grays, you’ll either way to go au naturale or dye your hair at home. Just be careful with home dye; it’s much harsher than the dye a hair dresser uses, so you’ll want to either mix two together from a licensed beauty supply store, or get it cheaply done at a student school.
Nails are super easy to do at home. Learn how to shape them, treat your own cuticles, use a base and top coat, and voila- gorgeous nails! I do mine once a week, use mainly Essie nail polish (purchased from Salvation Army – a bag of 8 for $4!), and binge Netflix (currently: The Haunting of Hill House, spooooky!) while I do it.
Skin care is another story. You only get one face. The EU bans 1,500 more chemicals than we do in our skincare products, which scares me, and is something everyone should educate themselves about. Many of these chemicals are linked to infertility and cancer. Listen to the Natch Beaut podcast to educate yourself on clean beauty. Find what products you like by going into Sephora, getting 3 samples per department, and talking to a specialist about what you need. When you find products you like, buy them in trial size, unopened on Ebay, or wait until a Black Friday sale, or until you have a coupon, to purchase.
Definitely put skincare into your budget – you will regret it later on if you don’t take care of your face. The most important things: wash your makeup off daily, moisturize, use an eye cream at night, and sunscreen in the morning. Serums optional. If you are clueless about skin care, listen to the Forever35 podcast.
Makeup is the last piece of this puzzle- what’s a girl to do with a budget and a makeup obsession? If you’re like me, you stop wearing it as much, or use up old products you already have. My mom gets us those mascara samplers they come out with at Christmas at Sephora, and they last me the whole year. I have been trying to use up old beauty products before buying anything new. Again, experiment with what you like, wait until it’s on sale, and buy coupons. Clean beautify your routine if you can. I use tinted moisturizer, Kat Von D setting powder, Too Faced ‘Better Than Sex’ mascara, and Hoola bronzer everyday and I’m done. All of those products were in one of those ‘Best of Sephora’ beauty boxes.
Lastly, up your shower ante with products from T.J Maxx- they have my favorite dry shampoo ever from Batiste, a huge bottle for an 1/8 of the price in the drugstore. You’d be amazed at the goodies you can get at a discount store!
The bottom line here is that when you look good, you feel good.
- Invest in timeless classics
Guess what Audrey Hepburn’s favorite purse was? Her Louis Vuitton Speedy 25. Guess what purse we see on hundreds of Instagram stars and bloggers today? A Louis Vuitton Speedy 25. Whether or not this is your jam, items like a Chanel lambskin flap purse, Louis Vuitton purse, or Burberry trench coat hold their value over time, make any outfit look more “polished”, and become family heirlooms to pass down to your daughters.
Now, obviously this stuff is expensive. As I mentioned earlier, I bought an $800 pair of boots for $153 on Poshmark, so it is possible to invest in high quality items for the price of a mid-range items. I have seen Louis Vuitton Speedy 25s and 30s sell on Poshmark for $200!
Coats, shoes, and purses are the most bang for your buck when it comes to investing if you’re going to go designer, because you will get the most cost per wear. Here’s an example; a Burberry trench coat is $1,200, but you might have it for 20 years, and wear it 100 days a year, which ends up being .60 per wear. If you don’t like trench coats, obviously this makes no sense. For me, I invest in coats and boots, because I live in New England, and they make my outfits look more polished.
Check out The Real Real or Poshmark to find some classic pieces for yourself. If you end up selling on either of those platforms, you can just re-invest by using the funds to buy a new wardrobe staple.
- Watch for materials
When thrifting or buying new, make sure you’re noticing what the materials are you are buying. You can find high-quality cashmere, wool, leather and silks at the thrift store. You can buy these items new. Ensure you know how to take care of these items, and also recognize that these will potentially look nicer and last longer than cheaper, synthetic materials.
- Avoid ‘fast fashion’
This is my last but most important point: being on a budget is no excuse to buy fast fashion. Fast Fashion includes brands that price extremely low and have a high production rate, like Zara, H & M, Victoria’s Secret, Old Navy, the Gap, Athleta, Banana Republic, Hollister, Abercrombie & Fitch, Walmart and Target. Of course, I like the way a lot of their clothes look, however, most of them fall apart in a few wears, or go out of style after a season, as they’re mainly trendy pieces.
The real reason to avoid fast fashion is the tremendous cost it has to our environment. Underpaid workers, child labor, and enormous greenhouse gas emissions are just a few of the hundreds of reasons not to buy fast fashion. Think about it: you can purchase a $20 cardigan from Zara, or buy a well-made, designer piece for the same amount on Poshmark. If you must have something from one of these brands, please buy it secondhand.
There is nothing more important than ethical consumption. This goes for all aspects of your life, including your home, your commute, your food, AND your clothes. Fighting unethical workplace practices is the easiest way to be an activist; put your dollars where your values are.
What are you best tips for staying stylish on a budget?