Since I started this blogging journey, I’ve been so lucky in that 99% of the feedback I receive is positive. The one negative comment that I get from people (usually anonymously) is that my family must be loaded in order for me to wear nice clothes and do the things I do. These people often say that I’ve had everything handed to me on a silver platter. Now, while my parents work really hard and have always given me everything I’ve ever needed, I’m far from a trust fund baby.
I’m not someone who just uses my parents’ credit card to buy everything. I actually have multiple income sources, but I’m still on a student budget. I do like nice things, but I am the most resourceful person I know when it comes to getting nice things on a budget. In fact, I almost never buy clothes and accessories full price (and I definitely don’t think med students should be buying those things full price). When you guys ask me about what I’m wearing and where I got it, I always have to tell you guys “I got it last season so it’s not available anymore” because I don’t just waltz into stores and buy whatever the current fashions are at full price.
Anyways, here are my tips for fashion and shopping on a budget:
This is a great online marketplaces for clothes and accessories, especially Poshmark. If you’re someone who doesn’t like the idea of wearing something that was used before, you can literally sort by ‘new with tags’ to only see items that are- you guessed it- new with tags. These companies also have authentication services for luxury items. I love Poshmark for accessories like purses, belts, scarves, and jewelry (where it doesn’t matter as much if the item has been worn before).
It’s not only great because it’s affordable, but because you can get items that aren’t available in stores. Say you want a dark red satchel. If you look in stores, you may find something you like, but you’ll only see what is available this season. What if this season everything has studs on it and you don’t want that? With a site like Poshmark, you have access to stuff from prior seasons, so you’re not limited to what stores are currently selling, and you can really narrow down what you are looking for.
Make a list
Make a list of what you need and multiple ways you will style each piece. If I want to buy a pair of white pants, I plan out at least five outfits I’ll be able to wear with those pants. If I can’t think of at least five ways I can style something, I don’t think it’s versatile enough to buy. Obviously this doesn’t go for fancy dresses and stuff.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been checking out when online shopping, and then stopped to Google search “Ann Taylor Promo Code” and gotten 15% – 25% off my order. Sometimes you have to try five or six codes before you find something that works. ALSO. If I can’t find a promo code online that works, I’ll go on Instagram and try to see if I can find an influencer promo code. You know- that code that influencers post when they partner with brands. Something like ‘SOFIA10’ that gives you 10% off a purchase.
Buy things at the end of the season (and on sale)
I buy a ton of winter sweaters during summer and a ton of lighter dresses during winter. Prices honestly go so low, I don’t get why more people don’t do this. The only issue is that you may not find your size in most things. The key, though, is to go before stores start bringing in the next season’s items. For example, by the time March rolls around, Spring clothes are already on the racks, and the winter sale items are mostly sold out. For winter clothes, I think the best time to shop is February. For summer, I think it’s August. I don’t think that fall and spring clothes go on sale as much, because winter clothes are kinda similar to fall clothes, and same for summer and spring.
Quality >> Quantity
You hear this a lot, but it’s so true. Buy classic items that won’t go out of style in good quality materials. It’s fine if something isn’t a designer brand, but look at the label. 100% cotton, wool, cashmere, silk, etc. tend to hold up well regardless of brand. I would rather buy five items a season that are more expensive than 20 new items that are cheap, low quality, or too trendy (to the point where I can’t wear them a couple years from now).
Baby your clothes
Since I just recommended buying fewer high quality items rather than more low quality items, it follows that you have to take great care of those high quality items. Hand wash delicate items in cold water if you don’t want to ruin them. I hand wash all of my delicate blouses and cashmere sweaters. This seems excessive, but when I buy something, I expect to wear it for at least five years, so I plan to take care of it. Another trick I love is using a pill comb to bring an old sweater back to life- especially wool or cashmere.
Sell old items
At the end of every season, I try to sell the things that I haven’t worn much. I use Poshmark and also consignment stores for this. I’ve noticed that sometimes I’ll wear something once and then it just collects dust, so it’s best if it finds a new home. This also happens with accessories and shoes. Sometimes I buy a pair of shoes, but learn too late that they’re a tad too uncomfortable for me to wear, and I’ll end up reselling them.
Learn to sew
This skill is so important for basic things like making repairs. However, you can do a lot more than just make repairs. So much of how your clothes look is based on fit, so if you can learn to alter things, you will look much better in your clothes. Once, I found a gorgeous skirt on sale, but it had hideous buttons on it. I removed the buttons and sewed on another set of really nice buttons, and it made the skirt ten times cuter. Best of all, I’d spent a total of $12 on it. Another thing I’ve done is found amazing quality dresses and skirts on sale at the end of a season, but decided that I’d like them more if they were a little shorter (this was before midi dresses were in style, haha) and just hemmed them myself. If I didn’t know how to sew, I would have just not purchased those items, but since I did know how, I ended up with something I loved for a super low price.
A consignment shop is not the same thing as a thrift shop. A consignment shop purchases clothes and accessories from people who are looking to sell those items, and they resell them. However, these shops are super selective about what they’ll take. The ones I love take mostly items that are new with tags, and that are really nice. Again, these are great for accessories like bags, scarves, etc. I know that the quality of the shop depends on the town it’s in, though. The one that was near my undergrad university in Princeton, NJ was amazing. The ones in New York are a little less nice, but still great for accessories. The ones in New Haven suck.