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Do you often struggle with finding cute clothes on a budget? Do you feel like you never have clothing that makes you feel good in your skin? I’ve been there too. While going through rough financial patches, I traveled to the depths of the internet to find the best places to shop. If you are like me and tired of the struggle to find cute clothes on a budget, here’s my recipe to help.
First, a Little Back Story.
When I was working at a big-box store, I got into an argument with one of the older security guards over why people steal the items they steal. He could not wrap his brain around why people would steal clothing and makeup. I told him that makeup and clothing are important for mental health and potential jobs, especially for women. We represent the brands that we work for through our appearances. Not everyone can spend between $100 and $400 a MONTH on clothing. But, there are many reasons people might need them, and he looked at me, and he said:
“Why on earth would someone spend money on something so frivolous if they clearly can’t afford it?”
I was genuinely speechless and had no idea how to answer that question. There are SO many reasons to want or need new clothing. Your outfits can utterly shift your mood. What a person wears can give them a massive boost of confidence or make you feel like a slob. You can need new clothing because you’ve lost or gained weight. Or maybe you moved to a colder climate, and you need clothing to keep you warm. Alternatively, to keep you cool during the warmer times of the year as well.
Let’s Start With the Basic Ingredients
A good thing to note is, start with your basics. For example, maybe three pairs of bottoms (pants, jeans, skirts), five tops in neutral colors, and a dress or suit that you can dress up or down. The “little black dress” is a classic for a reason. Then you’ll want shoes, a pair of dress shoes (cute plain black flats or pumps), and some comfy shoes suitable for walking (running shoes, toms, really whatever you feel best in).
When I’m shopping, color coordination is important. I stick to a specific palette of colors I feel comfortable in and look good on me. Having all of your clothing in a similar palette makes it MUCH easier to mix and match your pieces. What works best for me is choosing neutral color palettes (black, white, beige, grey) for most of my clothing and slowly adding statement pieces. Like bold colors, fun shoes, and weird accessories. (I’m looking at you, chicken purse)
Now, Add Some Spice!
Now, to spice things up, add your statement pieces. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Jewelry: Think chunky necklace or elegant pearls.
- Purses: Bright colors, weird patterns, or unusual shapes.
- Socks: I like to wear weird patterned socks under some of my strappy heels in the cooler months.
- Textures: You could wear a basic white button-up. But, if you want to elevate the look and seem more chic, wear a white mesh button-up and throw a cami underneath.
- Pop of Color: I have several sleeveless turtlenecks in different colors that I put under a graphic tee to give it more interest. But, even wearing a different colored top or pair of bottoms from what you usually wear can completely change your look.
Where to Buy Cute Clothes on a Budget!
Some people think that investing in high-quality, sustainably made clothing is the best option for absolutely every person on Earth. News flash, it’s not. Sometimes we can’t afford to spend 90 dollars on a T-shirt, or even 20 dollars on a T-shirt. If you want to take a more eco-conscious approach to fashion, start at thrift stores. Reused and repurposed is far better than clothing ending up in a landfill.
I typically despise clothing shopping in person and would much rather get things online. I can try things on in the comfort of my own home, and if I don’t like the items, I can mail them back. Online shopping lets me check prices and buy based on my budget without feeling like the people around me judging me for checking out the tags.
Thredup is a fantastic option for an online thrift store if you don’t want to go out. You can also try doing clothing swaps with friends, neighbors, or family. I also like looking on Facebook marketplace and Craigslist (or Kijiji if you’re in Canada) for clothing. There’s another super cool app that another writer Chloe shared called Varage Sale! It’s basically a virtual garage sale- how neat is that?
My Favorite Stores
- Shein: Shein has incredible prices, coupons on different days, free shipping on Sundays, and an AMAZING point system! Every point you get is worth a penny, which doesn’t seem like much. But, there are so many different ways to get the points. For example, they have a daily check-in, and the amount you receive is different every day. It’ll start with 1, then 3, and you can get up to 18!
- H&M: H&M is awesome for basics. They have some sustainably made items, some not so much, but their basics sections are fantastic. My clothes from this store last for years and still are just as soft as when I first got them. Their selection for workwear also takes a more modern and trendy approach which I LOVE.
- Boohoo: It seriously seems like Boohoo has a new sale every week! When you first select a category you want to shop in, I will warn you that the prices look crazy expensive, but I will typically sort items from low to high or press the option to see clothes between $10-$30. This store is the one I go to for my more bold basics, like zebra print pants and bright-colored pieces. This store is kind of like H&M’s boujee older sister.
- Uniqlo: This store is a little bit new to me. Their sale prices are phenomenal, but the store itself is slightly more on the pricey side. If you sign up for their website, you can get FREE shipping on your first order! They have super cute tote bags, and all of their shoes look ridiculously comfortable.
- Bershka: Bershka is a website I would go to for statement pieces. Your statement pieces in a wardrobe are more eye-catching, and this website has funky cuts and silhouettes, as well as very high-end-looking accessories.
What’s in your closet?
If you’re resourceful, you CAN find those cute clothes on a budget. Just keep searching for pieces you love. A great way to start is just by saving 5-10 dollars every month.
Do you have any tips for building a wardrobe from scratch to share with other readers? What are the everyday essentials in your wardrobe? Do you have a favorite budget boutique?