I’m Broke AF But I Don’t Dress Like It—Here’s How I Do It

I’ll admit that I have a true passion for being well-dressed. To me, an outfit can turn a crappy day into a semi-less crappy day simply because I feel like I’ve made an effort on some level. This can pose a problem for someone who, like me, has to live on a pretty strict budget to survive. If I want to keep my style in check but not break the bank, I’ve had to put some rules into play.

  1. Thrifting and consignment shops are key. Though it takes time and is the most obvious way to go, it’s still worth mentioning. It’s rare that I buy anything that wasn’t “previously loved.” I’m willing to spend the time to search for quality clothes among the racks and racks of donations. The statement that one person’s trash is another’s treasure has never been truer than when it comes to thrift shopping.
  2. I always shop with a purpose. I’ve found that if I just decide to go shopping, I’ll end up spending a lot more money than I can afford. I try to look for things very particularly when I venture out. I once had my heart set on an eggplant cardigan and I would hit stores with that specific piece of clothing in mind. It helped me avoid looking at other things so I wouldn’t splurge on something just because it was there.
  3. I have patience if I’m after a particular item. I’ve always been an impulse shopper and once I started only going shopping if I had something direct in mind, that curbed my impulses quite a bit. I’d find at times I’d still struggle so I had to constantly tell myself that whatever I desired was worth waiting for. Even if I went from store to store fixed on a certain item, I didn’t want to leave with something else just because I’d made the effort to go out. If I didn’t find what I was looking for, I knew I’d have to try again the next time I was out and about.
  4. I never buy trendy “fast fashion” items. When I first got interested in fashion, I was all about buying and wearing what was hot. I wanted to look as cool as all the ladies I’d see on style blogs and I ended up wasting money on things I only wore a handful of times. I also began noticing that the real glamorous items were much more simple than following something that was “in.”
  5. I look at clothing as an investment. If I am going to drop a large amount of money on something, it has to be a piece I’ll be able to wear for years to come. There are things that are worth investing in. My tastes seem to change from year to year so if I buy something that is versatile I know it won’t be retired when I suddenly decide to take my style down another path. A classic white shirt, blazers, and black heels are always going to look good no matter what, so I’ll spend some extra cash on things like that.
  6. I’m a master outfit planner. If I’m going to spend money on clothes I sure as hell better get use out of them. I love having multiple things as options but I often get lazy and rotate the same uniform week after week. Just like some people plan meals, I plan my weekly wardrobe in advance. This way I utilize my entire closet and can weed out the stuff that rarely gets worn.
  7. For everything I buy, I give up something as well. There have been several times where I’ve come home from a shopping trip and found myself running out of space to put all my new goods. I had so much money hanging in my closet that it was ridiculous. Not only is consigning and donating a good space saver but sometimes I could make some money back too. For everything that I couldn’t sell, I was happy to donate to a place that maybe someone like me would stumble upon it and give it a new life.
  8. I get inspiration from others. If I’m truly in a style rut and can’t go shopping (which is like a natural high to me when I’m feeling low), I’ll take a look at what others are wearing and find things I already own to wear in new ways. The outfit planning has surely helped this but when I need even more inspiration I’m not afraid to seek it out. I’ll save photos of things I like (Pinterest is obviously great for this) and I’ll factor in my own items to recreate that same outfit.
  9. I keep things varied. I don’t always have to spend a ton of money to have a great style and I find that something as simple as changing my routine makes me feel like I have a whole new wardrobe when I haven’t shopped in a long time. I take the time to find what I like and what will last and that still gives me my fix for feeling like I’m crushing the fashion game.
jordan is a writer from salt lake city who enjoys a good steak, her dog, and conversations about how radiohead is awesome. she hopes to be a talking head on some VH1 pop-culture show someday and can curate a playlist for any occasion. when she grows up she wants to be an olsen twin.