How to Look Good on a Budget

Stock up on basics.

You’ll get a ton of wear out of every basic piece you buy. When you’re out shopping, look for plain T-shirts, a few pairs of trousers, white blouses, jeans, and a little black dress. Once you have those items, you can build the rest of your wardrobe around them.

  • You might also want to buy a pair of neutral-colored flats and a pair of high heels or dress shoes.
  • Your basics might also depend upon your own personal style. If, for instance, you’re more of an outdoorsy person, you may want to stock up on a waterproof jacket, hiking shorts, and water shoes.
  • Or, if you’re a skater, baggy jeans, band T-shirts, and sneakers might be more appropriate.

Go for solid colors and timeless prints.

These classics are always in style. Solids are super easy to mix and match, so you won’t have to worry about finding items to pair with them.  Plaid, houndstooth, and checkered prints look expensive and can take your outfit from plain to polish. Select skirts, jackets, and trousers in these patterns to update your wardrobe.

  • If you want to keep it simple, go for neutrals. Blacks, browns, whites, creams, and grays pair well with almost anything.

Pick out silk, satin, and tweed items.

Fabrics like these automatically look expensive. If you’re looking to invest in blouses, jackets, or skirts, look for ones that have a classy feel to them. Cotton and polyester fabrics are fine, but they tend to wear out faster and look a little cheaper.

  • Save cotton for summer dresses and fitted T-shirts.

Mix and match the pieces you have.

You can create tons of different outfits with a few simple pieces. Combine fabrics, fits, tops, bottoms, and outerwear to expand your wardrobe without breaking the budget. Don’t be afraid to try something a little out of the box—you might just love what you come up with!

  • For instance, you can turn a dress into a skirt by wearing a sweater over it.
  • Make a silk scarf into a top by folding it in half and tying it around your torso.
  • Layer a slip dress over a band T-shirt for an edgy-chic look.
  • Turn a button-down into outerwear by throwing it on over a T-shirt.

Scoop up a few pairs of high-quality shoes.

Your footwear can make or break an outfit. For guys, grab 1 pair of sneakers, 1 pair of boots, 1 pair of dress shoes, 1 pair of loafers, 1 pair of boat shoes, and 1 pair of casual slides

 For women, scoop up 1 pair of flats, 1 pair of sandals, 1 pair of booties, 1 pair of comfortable heels, 1 pair of open-toed heels, and 1 pair of sneakers.

  • When you pick out shoes, go for neutrals over bright colors so they match all the pieces in your wardrobe.
  • Look for quality shoes that will last a long time. Leather, suede, and rubber shoes are great ones to choose from.

Add color and style to your look with accessories.

Accessories are cheap, and you can find them in many colors. Stock up on a few brightly colored scarves, earrings, necklaces, bracelets, and watches to add a bold accent to any outfit. Gold and silver jewelry goes well with almost anything, while bright colors like blue, turquoise, green, and red are fun to stock up on for pops of color.

  • Try looking for cheap jewelry at a thrift store near you. They often have vintage or antique jewelry that you can clean and wear for years.

Shop less of trendy items.

Fashion trends come and go in a matter of weeks. If you spot a trendy item that you just can’t resist, give it a month or so before you buy it. After a month, if you still want the item, you can probably find it much cheaper at an outlet store or online.

  • Waiting a month also gives you time to change your mind. The piece that you wanted might not even be in style anymore.

Build your wardrobe over time.

You don’t have to splurge on new clothing all at once. Creating a solid wardrobe that you feel comfortable in can take a while, and that’s okay. If you’re working with a budget, you can save up and slowly spend your money on a few items every month.

  • Try to prioritize items that you need right now. If you only have one pair of shoes, consider spending your money on 1 to 2 more pairs. If you need business casual clothing and you don’t have any, prioritize finding pieces you can wear to the office.

Sell your old clothes to increase your budget.

Create a self-sustaining cycle of clothing for your closet. When you decide you don’t like an item anymore, take it to a consignment store or try selling it in an online marketplace. You can take the money that you make from your old clothing and pour it back into buying new pieces to wear.

  • Try selling clothes online.
  • Make sure the clothes you sell are still in good condition. If they’re ripped or stained, they probably won’t sell.

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