Everyone wants to look their best, but for those of us who came of age during a recession or have to deal with student debt and low incomes, it can be easy to feel like fashion is the exclusive domain of the moneyed set. We have bills to pay and budgets to worry about. We Millennials aren’t trying to “kill” any industries, but we have less money than our parents did and have to be careful about how it’s spent. So how can we afford something as frivolous as style?
Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to dress your best without having to break the bank. By making smart decisions about when and where you shop and by remembering to focus on the right things in a clothing purchase, you can build a stylish and lasting wardrobe that won’t cost you an arm and a leg. Here are the cost-conscious style basics that you need to know.
Focus On The Fit
Style can seem strange and complex — and, sometimes, it certainly is. But here’s the thing: the single biggest style rule you need to know is actually stunningly simple—fit matters more than anything else.
This isn’t to say that you should never consider color, accessories, or the latest trends. But your first fashion step should be finding fits that suit your body type. It isn’t the label, the trendiness, nor not the price that will tell you if a piece of clothing will work for you. Use this knowledge to find more affordable clothes that flatter your form and look great.
Focus On The Classics
There will be things that go in and out of style every year. Those things are going to be more expensive in the long run, for the simple reason that you’re unlikely to keep wearing them for many seasons and years. It’s almost as if you’re renting those clothes — think of how much you’re paying per month for a dress that you wear for a summer versus a dress that you wear for five years.
So look for the classics: the style basics that are always in vogue. Go with high-quality options for these garments, and then simply hold onto them forever. They’ll anchor your style and ensure that you don’t waste money re-purchasing the same cheap clothes or the more fleeting high-style versions of the same garments.
Buy At The Right Time
Clothes come in all sorts of different types and qualities. But they also vary in price — and not always consistently. The same piece of clothing can cost a lot more at one point and a lot less at another.
Take advantage of sales, but be careful. Know what you want, shop with a list, and don’t be taken in by the flashy offers, otherwise, you could end up spending more instead of less. Bookmark clothes you’re dying to have and wait for sales or use price-tracking tools to find the best deals.
Another tip is to buy clothes out of season. Your next swimsuit will be cheaper if you buy it in winter, and your next coat will be cheaper if you buy it in summer. Combine this with the “buy classics” rule to ensure that you don’t end up with a piece that is out of style before the proper weather comes around.
Shop In The Right Spots
Just as important as when you shop is where you shop. Hip designer boutiques can be expensive and may sell you stuff that goes out of style fast, but cheap online retailers and fast fashion outlets can be full of cheap products that look awful when worn.
Use your knowledge of fits to find the most affordable shops that offer the best clothes for you. Consider the balance between affordability and high fashion, and look at an online boutique—such an option may combine the low prices of online shopping with the quality and fashion-forward focus of a brick-and-mortar specialty shop.
Combine these shopping locations with good timing and a firm grasp of how to spend properly on lasting classics and flattering fits and you’ll end up with a reliable wardrobe that makes you feel great when you’re out on the town and when you check your bank account balance, too.
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