Understand how to dress fashionably on a budget


Joan Buckland

Fashion is a great means of self-expression and a way to show the world who you are instead of telling them. However, it can be a very expensive interest if you don't learn and understand to work with what you've got. Overspending is an easy trap to fall in and can lead to a cashflow crunch. Whilst this may not be an issue and occasional payday loans may solve your temporary shortfall, better budgeting when it comes to your fashion needs could ensure you don't go into red too often. Managing expenses could mean smart spending, taking fashion hacks on board and carefully planning your shopping trips. Fashion should be fun and not financially draining, and it can be both of these things if you learn a few tips. In light of this, we managed to cook up some practical suggestions on how to be fashionable on a budget.

Check your current inventory

The first step to being fashionably dressed on a budget is checking what you already have. Without checking what you already have, you could end up doubling up on items and burning a hole in your wallet. Set aside a day to take everything out and assess each item honestly. Take a note of what you're lacking and what you may need more of. While doing this, you might even find that you're surprised at how many hidden gems you've got inside of your closet. Get rid of the things you aren't wearing and are sure you have no intention of ever wearing. A rule of thumb is that if you haven't worn it for over a year, there's a slim chance that you ever will. For such said items, you can either give them away or sell them.

If you do choose to sell them, consider using the money you make to buy new pieces in your wardrobe. Options for places to sell include charity shops or online. Once you've done this, you can get ready to revamp your closet all together.

Have a fashion vision

Having a vision for your wardrobe will help on your journey to being fashionable on a budget. Some people have an idea of their signature looks, whilst others need more inspiration. It might be that you simply want to change up your look or make it a little edgier. Whichever basket you fall into, take some time to check out looks that you like on fashion blogs or magazines. This will help you see what you want to add to what you've already got and what kind of things you need to shop for. If you're a person who likes following seasons, it may be challenging for you to create a vision for your wardrobe. Seeing as what's in fashion is constantly changing, you may have a tendency to want to shop more often. Advice you can take on board in this instance is to invest a certain section of your wardrobe into things that never go out of fashion.

Classic items that stay in fashion

  • Jeans
  • Fishermans jumper
  • Breton t-shirt
  • Cashmere scarf
  • Trench coat
  • Little Black Dress
  • Leather belt

Classic jeans that never date

Focus on everyday essentials

Following on from the last point, having pieces that are essentials in every season is key to being fashionable on a budget. These key essentials are things such as white shirts, denim jeans, a black blazer, over-sized jumpers, or a trench coat. The essence of key essentials is that they can be mixed and matched enabling you to create a wide range of outfits. For example, if all of your pieces have distinct patterns it is more difficult to wear them repeatedly in different ways. However, simple items are easy to dress up and recreate by adding different accessories.

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Invest in key quality pieces

It can be so easy to buy a whole bunch of cheap stuff when you can't afford the expensive things that you like. Although it may seem as though you're saving money, you may actually be spending a lot more. Quality is often far better than quantity especially when it comes to things you'll be wearing every day. You might be better off buying a more expensive jumper that will last for the next 5 years, than multiple cheaper ones that will start coming apart after a few washes.

Having said that, it isn't advisable to spend a lot on something that you're going to wear once a year. Invest that large sum into things you will wear frequently so that it's truly worth the spend. We tend to wear shoes, bags, and jeans often so those might be good items to start with. Bear in mind that there are ways to get quality pieces for less such as waiting for them to go on sale. Buying them second-hand or online are also options you can consider.

Visit charity shops in high-end areas

People often give items they're tired of wearing to charity shops and sometimes they happen to be timeless pieces. Not only is it possible to come across quality and unique items, but you'll also get them far cheaper. If you happen to be a fan of name brands and designers, you could find many items there. The trick is to go to charity shops in high-end areas as wealthy people are likely to drop unwanted clothes, shoes, and bags there.

Invest in your feet

Whether your footwear is cheap or expensive, bad heels aren't usually a great look. Take care of the shoes you have by taking them to the cobbler and fixing any issues regularly. This will help prevent you from buying new shoes frequently due to the ones you have not lasting.


You will find the transforming power of accessories can be quite amazing. There is something about having to be fashionable on a budget that awakens your inner creativity. If you get bored of the things in your closet, try throwing on accessories to create a new look. Some ideas of accessories you should have include scarves, bags, jewelry, hats, broaches, gloves, turbans and belts. There are far more accessories that you could add to your collection than the ones mentioned. Just go for what suits you and compliments your personal style.

Learn how to sew

If you're both creative and fashionable, learning how to sew will save you tons of money. You don't necessarily have to become the next big thing. This skill however, means that you can make your own clothes and reduce the amount you spend on buying.

Sewing kit

To learn how to sew, you can watch online videos, take a class or volunteer to help a tailor. If you decide to self-teach, patterns are a great way to start. Although you'll need to invest in a sewing machine, it will save you a considerable amount in the long-run when you start making your own clothes. If you don't want to buy one, there's always the option of using a friend's machine or anyone else you know who's got one. Once you have a machine, you can begin by buying simple patterns for clothing such as scarves, dresses or tops. After a few tries and lots of practice, you should be able to confidentially rock the things you've made. If you enjoy creating enough you can even begin making clothes for others and selling them for a fee.

More clever tips

We covered quite a few ways that you might want to look at, here are some more:

Winter coats are an essential part of your wardrobe and can be quite pricey depending on where you buy them. Instead of buying a new one, why not spice up the ones you already have? You can do this by changing the buttons and adding vintage ones. You could also explore changing the belt to something different to give the coat a new look. Another idea is to buy a few nice broaches that you could pin to the corner or collar of your top to give it an elegant touch.

Have you ever looked inside of a fashion magazine and felt the models looked so effortlessly fashionable? They often have on such simple items yet look so outstanding. One of the reasons may be well-ironed clothes. As simple as it may sound, clothes that are well-ironed help give off a more expensive look. In this case, investing in a steamer may be a good idea. As they say, it is sometimes all in the detail. It's advisable to only invest in one when you have the spare cash.

Some materials look more expensive than others and some include tweed, cotton, and linen. These may not actually be the most expensive, however, they do a good job of looking so most times. Wearing darker colours, black, in particular, is another way of hiding your budgeting tricks. By wearing darker colours, you can sometimes hide tell-all signs of cheaper pieces.

A classic mistake that loads of us have fallen into. The changing areas in shops are strategically lit to give the best view of yourself and encourage that sale. However, beware that what looked great in the shop might not look so good at home.

Similar to the above trap in that it can be hard to see colour and texture on a screen, so beware when browsing online that the clothes that you are looking at are really what they seem!

If you're shopping online, be careful of shipping costs. The upper hand you have when shopping in stores is you can easily try on items. Even if you don't happen to try them on then and there, once you realize they don't fit, they can easily be returned. When shopping online, however, it's a totally different process. If you're lucky enough to fit into most things you buy, this may not be an issue. If you, however, you've got to go through the hassle of returning items, you may find online shopping to be a tad bit expensive. Depending on where you're buying your items from, shipping costs can sometimes be exorbitant. To cut costs, opt for free shipping or picking up items from your local store.

More great tips

Set a monthly spending budget

We often want to learn to save and cut expenses because we find ourselves running out of money before the end of the month. Budgeting is therefore unavoidable if truly your goal is to save money. It is therefore no different when it comes to being fashionable on a budget.


There are different ways to budget when it comes to your wardrobe. One includes setting a monthly amount that you're permitted to spend on new items for your wardrobe. Another may be setting aside money until seasonal sales come around so that you can get more for less. Irrespective of how you choose to go about it, try and ensure you stay within your set amount. Above all, being content will help your efforts to cut costs as you can truly never have enough if you aren't.

Shop with cash

Sometimes you have your mind set on going shopping for specific items, but things don't go according to plan. This could be because there were too many good things to resist or because you felt some of the discounts were once in a lifetime offers. Although some of your reasons may very well be valid, they won't help in your bid to save. If you find it a little hard not to overspend when you go shopping, perhaps it's best you go out with cash. Taking cash out and leaving your card at home means that you're forced to choose between items as opposed to buying all of them and relying on payday loans to help you pay upcoming bills. Take out an amount that aligns with your budget before going shopping and you're less likely to overspend.


You shouldn't have to compromise looking good just because you're on a budget. There are many ways in which you can express yourself through fashion that are inexpensive yet effective. Although we are taught that constantly buying new things is the best way to keep our wardrobes alive, there are cheaper alternatives. It doesn't help that there are constantly new fashion trends, but always remember you can set your own pace and create your own fashion without overspending.

We hope that you'll consider some of the tips and suggestions in this guide next time you want to change up your wardrobe. What measures do you take to ensure you don't go overboard whilst trying to remain fashionable? Share some of the ways that you fashion on a budget that we may have forgotten to mention! For more great ideas check out this fashion blog.