Advice For Dressing Well On A Budget
We live in tough times, and everyone wants to watch not just her dollars but her pennies too. But we all want to enjoy life as much as possible, and confidence we look stylish and chic puts a smile on the face and a spring in the step. Below is a guide to expressing your personal style: making the most of what you have in the first place, and wisely adding at little or no cost.
Clean out your closet
Taking inventory is the first step. If you are like most of us, the closets and drawers have not had a thorough going through in some time. Sort into four categories:
· Definitely Keeping Is in good condition, fits well, looks good and I’m comfortable wearing it. If any of these is missing, it’s not a Definitely.
· Probably Keeping Not up to snuff for some reason, but I’m not willing to let go yet.
· Good enough for a resale shop If a piece of clothing is in good condition, a resale shop may be able to sell it, and share the proceeds with you. Perfect items for resale are things that don’t fit correctly, things that you don’t wear because they just aren’t you, and gifts that missed the mark somehow, but can’t be returned because there was no gift receipt in the box. Resale shops are pretty much always individually owned, and they are as unique as the women who operate them. Every resale shop owner I’ve met is a business woman who cares about fashion and has her own aesthetic. What they will take varies widely. Some are conservative, some edgy, some very upscale, some shabby chic, some vintage. Finding all these types of establishments in your area is worth your while, so check the yellow pages and ask a local fashionista or two, plus your hairdresser. Most carry shoes, belts, handbags and jewelry as well as clothes, so don’t neglect to clear your closet and drawers of these items too. If one place doesn’t take your things, don’t be discouraged, just move on to the next. If nothing else, you will get a look inside all the resale boutiques in your area.
· Charity What you can’t recover some money on will benefit someone else. Goodwill and Salvation Army have excellent reputations.
Now that you’ve culled the closet, reorganize. Really shake up the order: if pants always went on the far right, move them to the center: if dresses were in middle, put print dresses on left and solids on the right. Or long on the left, short on the right. Make it very different. The purpose of this is to shake you out of your fashion rut, and open up new possibilities.
Once all the Definitely Keeps are settled in their new places, take another look at the Probably Keeps. Do they look like they belong? Will you wear them? Do they fill a valuable place, or are they the least attractive of three lime green sweaters?
Accessories express your unique style more than anything else. They also stretch your wardrobe. The same basic outfit takes on a different flavor with a change of jewelry and a scarf and hat. Accessories are the most memorable and eye-catching element of many ensembles.
A wardrobe of simple, easy to coordinate and easy to care for pieces, which serve as a background for a wide variety of accessories, will take you far.
Mix it up
No matter how much a person has, she tends to drift into wearing the same favorite few outfits. Before buying anything new, look at using what you already have more, and in different combinations. Now that your fashion space has a little more elbow room, and contains only clothes that look good and fit great, let’s look with fresh eyes.
First of all, did the reorganization turn up anything great that hadn’t been worn in awhile? It’s as good as getting something new!
Second, come up with some new pairings. You always wore the cranberry top with that peasant skirt, but what else presents a match? What can layer that you never wore in layers? That top always went with jeans? How about khakis? Can that summer dress move into fall and even winter, layered with tights, a sweater and a jacket?
Swap with friends
Before you buy, see if you can organize a swap meet. The more people the better, and all items have to be something you’re willing to part with. Jewelry you don’t wear? Fuzzy scarf that makes you sneeze? Lacey blouse that doesn’t fit the life of mother of toddlers?
Invite your friends to your house, put on some music, serve coffee or wine depending on the time of day, and trade away. No one is under any obligation, but one person’s cast off is another person’s new favorite.
Never underestimate the power of a great pair of blue jeans
Blue jeans are one of the best basics out there, and an excellent wardrobe building block. They can dress up or down, go to many work places and recreation hang-outs, are easy to care for, and can look terrific.
The key to jeans is fit. Jeans are more form fitting than most types of clothing, but a good fit will be perfectly comfortable and very flattering. Every fashion magazine runs an article on ‘which jeans are best for your body type’ about 5 or 6 times a year, so I will give you my version here.
Step 1 Put the jeans on
Step 2 Stand in front of the mirror
Question 1 How do you look?
Question 2 How do you feel?
If you look and feel good, the jeans are right for you.
In my opinion one of the best places to get jeans is Goodwill. Jeans are more unforgiving than other types of clothing, and end up discarded more often. Even when a woman arrives at her prepregnancy weight, the distribution often isn’t quite the same, and a pair of jeans with plenty of life left is given to charity. Goodwill usually has racks of jeans, in a variety of styles, cuts, brand names and shades of blue. All women’s jeans at my local Goodwill cost $7.50, and I have found Gap and Lands End in abundance, along with the occasional Abercrombie & Fitch.
Learn to make things yourself
Handmade items express personal style. You chose the components and color scheme, and you do it with existing pieces in mind, so the new creation fits seamlessly into your wardrobe.
There’s knitting, crochet, sewing, jewelry making and embellishing with beads. Handmade things are expensive in stores, but http://www.etsy.com/ carries stylish handmade accessories, clothes and jewelry for very reasonable prices.
We’ve gotten this far without spending much money, and you may have some store credit at local resalers. First, decide what you need most. But realize that resale boutiques are not department stores; they may have the items on your list or not. There will only be one of each item, in one size, so if you discover something fabulous at a good price get it now or come back tomorrow at the latest. But new things come in every week, unlike Macys or your favorite catalog.
Frugality is in style!
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