Guide to Frugal Fashion

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In a world of endless selfies and social media entries, there's some pressure to look polished. But can you do it on a budget? Absolutely yes, and this frugal fashion guide will tell you how.

What is frugal fashion?

Frugal fashion is not just about saving money; it's about getting the best value for your buck. Fashion trends are changing rapidly today, and there's no shortage of ultra-cheap clothing at your fingertips. Although you might feel good about the price tag, more often than not the garment won't last beyond a season. The garment will start to stretch out, the fabric will pill, and the colors will fade. Sometimes that's okay. Since trendy looks rarely remain popular beyond a single season, it's not like you need the garment to last, so it makes sense to get those pieces at rock-bottom prices. However, while it's tempting to fill your closet with today's hottest looks, think of how much money you could save if you focus on buying classic staples that you can wear for many years. Then, you can add a few trendy garments and inexpensive fashion accessories to make your wardrobe pop. It all comes together under the frugal fashion umbrella.

Start with classic styles.

Although popular fashion trends change quickly, some pieces are considered classics that never go out of style. I'm talking about that little black dress, charcoal trousers, a nice cashmere cardigan, a gray pea coat, a crisp white shirt, dark jeans, tan slacks, and other basics in neutral colors. These garments are the foundation for building a frugal fashion wardrobe as you wear them year after year. It's worth taking your time to find well-made pieces since you want them to last, and the quality of the item should weigh more heavily than the price. Don't spend more than you can afford, of course, but you'll get more value out of a pair of well-made dark jeans than you would out of three pairs of poor quality jeans for the same price.

Buy well-made clothing.

Many of us look for a flattering outfit without scrutinizing the quality of the garment. For your frugal fashion wardrobe, you should carefully check the garment's quality no matter the price (especially since they need to last). Can you see through the garment? If so, that means it might rip more quickly. You also might need to wear another shirt underneath it. Both those things add up. Check the hardware. Is it easy to zip? Are the brackets secure? If it buttons, did the manufacturer include a spare in case you lose one? Is it tightly stitched? Do you see holes around the thread? Do you see loose hems or threads dangling off? If there's a pattern, does it line up at the seems? Synthetic fabrics are fine, but clothing made from natural fibers (wool, cotton, silk, and leather) tend to be more durable. Avoid clothes that must be dry-cleaned to stop added expense. Purchase some well-made basics, and you're well on your way to creating a polished frugal fashion wardrobe.

Consider multifunctional clothing.

Another way to make your wardrobe stretch is to purchase multifunctional clothing. I'm talking about pants that unzip at the knees to become shorts, an infinity dress that can be changed around to create several eye-popping silhouettes, or an oversized scarf with endless arrangement possibilities. Convertible clothing is sometimes more expensive than their counterparts, but you're getting numerous looks with just one item. Some people will find it worth it, particularly those who travel for work.

Shop strategically, use discounts, and find other perks.

Embracing a frugal lifestyle while still looking polished means you need a strategy. Whether you're shopping in person or online, you should check for any discounts and deals that you can use to your advantage. Directly call the stores, visit the seller's website to check their offers, and open the discount aggregation websites. Some of them may even have a mobile app to make browsing easier. There is no guarantee that you will always find a coupon you can use, but it only takes a minute of your time to look, and the discounts can be quite substantial when it does work out.

Additionally, most online shopping these days offer a money cashback program if you make your purchase through a rebate portal. You'll only earn a small percentage of your purchase, but it all adds up over time, and you might as well take advantage of it. Likewise, downloading the store's app or signing up for a rewards card hosted by your favorite store or brand might also net you discounts and other valuable perks. Although those options can boost the value of your purchase, be aware that you may be trading your personal data to score a deal.

Consider thrift shops.

Thrifting is a key component to building a frugal fashion wardrobe. Some thrift stores are better than others when it comes to their selection and the quality of their clothing, so don't hesitate to shop around. Like retail stores, thrift stores usually offer discounts on certain days of the week, or they give out coupon codes at the register. It pays to call the store or look online to determine when you'll get the most bang for your buck. Don't feel like doing the legwork to find a thrift store that carries quality frugal fashion clothing? No problem, because some thrift stores may be accessible online. Keep in mind that you might miss some flaws that would be easy to spot in person, and you can't try anything on, so remember to check the store's return policy before you take this route.

Also, it's important to be realistic about your skill set. Don't buy something just because it's a good deal. A beautiful dress with a rock bottom price tag won't do you any good if it doesn't fit, and you can't tailor it yourself. Likewise, an affordable designer jacket that you love won't be wearable if it has a huge stain that can't be removed or concealed.

No matter the price tag, you should only buy something if you're sure you will wear it. You also don't have to rush. Add pieces to your frugal fashion wardrobe slowly over time. Always shop with a strategy so you can add trendy clothing and accessories with your basics to keep your look fresh. Keep those things in mind, and you'll master the fine art of looking polished while on a budget!

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