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How to Revamp your Wardrobe on a Shoestring Budget

Updated on July 2, 2014
Thrifty chic
Thrifty chic

What is your worst nightmare about matters pertaining to dressing? I will tell you mine … for two years the sight of my closet every morning was enough to induce a minor panic attack. Bulky t-shirts and hideous blue jeans were some of my wardrobe staples. I did not have a choice because my funds were too meager to spare on sprucing up my wardrobe. By a fluke, I managed to secure a plum position as a customer service executive (first impressions are crucial when interacting with a customer) so I had to get creative or get fired!

Why is it Important to Dress Well?

The familiar phrase “image is everything” epitomizes the massive pressure that an image conscious society places on dressing today. The global fashion industry spends an obscene amount of money trying to entice people to purchase their brands thus contributing to a domino effect of consumerism. The pressure of a consumerist society creates a "keeping up with the Joneses" mentality and woe unto those who can't keep up. They are deemed as inferior beings. Therefore, you will be judged according to the way you dress. It is imperative that you dress to impress because it has a direct impact on your professional and social standing. The good news is, you do not have to spend a fortune to look fabulous.

Useful Tips:

1. Raid the Nearest Closet

Some people (including me) impulsively buy clothes or shoes only to stash them away in their closet (unused and forgotten) for ages. There is no shame in raiding someone's closet but please do so with permission. It is not cool to wear stolen merchandise and the prison (jail stripes/orange jumpsuit) look is quite unflattering. Karla Deras, an American fashion blogger, (see Karla’s Closet ) sometimes incorporates her dad's shirt into her outfit. The result is stunning!

However, not all “ hoarders” are amenable to giving away their clothing items (even unwanted ones). One may attempt to appease a "hoarder" by offering to exchange items.

2. Learn the Art of Haggling

Get acquainted with the skills of bargaining to purchase merchandise at a steal. However, establishments with fixed prices rarely allow customers to bargain.


  • Maintain a poker face at all times - it is important to conceal your delight when you spot desired items. This tactic prevents the seller from taking advantage of your heightened sense of excitement
  • Dress down - at least this tactic works in Kenya . A seller is more likely to take pity on a “seemingly” wretched human being by selling their wares at a lower price.

3. Accessories are a Girl's Best Friend

If you are strapped for cash, adding accessories to your wardrobe is a great way to infuse some pizzazz to your lackluster outfits.

A collection of statement accessories
A collection of statement accessories


  • Experiment with bold and fun pieces to add some flavor to your look. I am aware that the “matchy-matchy” look is back. However, the stacking trend is still going strong so do not shy away from stacking up your accessories.
  • Wear colorful scarves and belts to glam up a dull outfit.


  • Go overboard with accessories. Do you honestly want to give the "dreaded" fashion police live ammunition to make you a laughing-stock? Well then, observe some basic rules for example, a colorful/busy outfit should be paired up with minimalist jewelry and vice versa.

It's a culture "thing" - colorful accessories complement the Masai regalia
It's a culture "thing" - colorful accessories complement the Masai regalia
A Masai woman dons an array of accessories
A Masai woman dons an array of accessories

Psst... Have you Heard?

That the Ugandan government is proposing a ban of mini-skirts in an anti-pornography bill and across the border, vigilante groups in Kenya are stripping women naked for wearing mini-skirts. To read more about it please click here :

Scarf it! The scarf infuses color to an otherwise dull outfit
Scarf it! The scarf infuses color to an otherwise dull outfit

4. Steer Away from Fads

Are you tempted to cave in to the latest craze and buy that trendy shoe or dress? Run. If you give in to the urge, you may find yourself with a closet full of out-dated outfits or shoes and replacing your wardrobe may cost a fortune. Is the urge to buy trendy outfits still overpowering you despite the mental picture that I have created? Okay, just imagine yourself in a room full of people snickering and laughing behind your back because of the has-been outfit that you are wearing. Unfortunately, you don't have a choice but to wear it because you are too broke to replace it. Now that should do the trick!


  • Purchase timeless pieces for instance, the LBD (Little Black Dress) is a classic example of an outfit that never ceases to go out of style.

5. Buy your Wardrobe Off -Season

Most seasoned penny pinchers (including me) know that buying clothes off-season is a fantastic way to reduce expenses. For example, purchase your winter gear during summer and vice versa.

In addition, do not buy wardrobe basics during festive seasons or peak times when people are likely to spend a lot of cash. The vendors tend to hike up their prices during these periods because of massive sales.

Do you agree that society should dictate what you wear as a measure to preserve decency?

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