How to Look Stylish and Fashionable on a Budget

 Fashion is an expression of oneself and should, therefore, not be a frustratingly expensive affair. Unfortunately, for most people, looking stylish means blowing up the budget to be able to afford that leather ankle boot or little black dress from Mango.

But do you know you can still look like a million bucks without spending anything close to a million bucks? Read on as we explore the different ways to look stylish while sticking to your budget.

Shop in Thrift Stores

 Look for gently used clothing and accessories at thrift stores, consignment shops, and online marketplaces like Poshmark and Depop. You can often find high-quality, stylish items that are gently used at a fraction of the original price.

The trick to finding stylish items when shopping in thrift stores is to know what you’re looking for. Because it can be overwhelming to browse through racks and racks of clothing, it helps to have a general idea of what you’re looking for. Make a list of items you need or want, such as a winter coat or a formal dress, and focus on those items first.

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clothes on a rack

Thrift stores often have a mix of new and gently used items, so it’s important to check the condition of each item before you buy it. Look for tears, stains, or other damages, and be sure to try on clothes to ensure they fit properly.

Don’t be embarrassed to try everything on. We know this can be tricky because most thrift stores often don’t have a fitting room.

Come prepared to try on clothes in the store by wearing comfortable clothing that is easy to take on and off. Remember to bring a friend or family member to help you decide what looks best.

Thrift stores can be a treasure trove of unique and one-of-a-kind items, so don’t be afraid to dig through the racks and try on something that might not be your usual style – you never know what you might find.

If you are completely new to thrifting, you may want to watch these thrifting tips from Youtuber bestdressed

Don’t be afraid to negotiate. Most thrift stores are willing to negotiate on the price of an item, especially if it’s been on the shelf for a while. If you see something you love, but the price is a little steep, don’t be afraid to ask if the store is willing to come down on the price.

Find a thrift store near you here.

classic outfit pieces

Invest in Classic Pieces

Choose timeless, classic pieces that will never go out of style. These items will form the foundation of your wardrobe and can be dressed up or down to suit any occasion. They can also be worn for many years.

We recommend investing in high-quality pieces that will last you for at least 3-5 years. These may cost you more upfront, but they will no doubt save you a ton of money in the long run because you won’t have to replace them as often as the trendy pieces. While trendy pieces are good for making you look in-season,  they go out of style pretty quickly, making you spend more in the long run. 

If you are just starting out to build your wardrobe, you want to keep your classics in neutral colors like nude, black, white, brown, and navy blue. These colors are easy to pair with others.

Here are a few examples of classic clothing pieces that are worth investing in:

Little Black Dress

A classic black dress is a staple in any wardrobe. It can be dressed up or down and is appropriate for a variety of occasions, from a formal event to a casual dinner out.

White Shirt

 A white shirt is a versatile piece that can be dressed up with a suit or dressed down with jeans. It’s a classic choice for both men and women.

Blue Jeans

 A well-fitting pair of blue jeans is a must-have for any casual wardrobe. Look for a classic cut that is not too tight or too baggy.

Related: How to Style Blue Jeans

jeans and white shirts

Trench Coat

A trench coat is a classic outerwear piece that is both stylish and practical. It’s perfect for those in-between seasons when it’s not quite cold enough for a heavy coat but a little too chilly for just a jacket.


 A blazer is a classic piece that can be worn to work or dressed up for a formal event. It’s a versatile item that can be paired with a variety of bottoms, from trousers to jeans.

Pencil Skirt

A pencil skirt is a classic choice for the office and can be dressed up or down depending on the occasion.

A-line Dress

 An A-line dress is a classic choice that is flattering on many body types. It’s a versatile piece that can be worn to work or a formal event.

Make Use of Accessories to Elevate your Outfit

A few well-chosen accessories can greatly impact your outfit without breaking the bank. They add some flair and interest to your outfit. Invest in a few classic pieces that will stand the test of time, such as a black leather belt or a pearl necklace. 

belted black dress and accessories

Classic accessories are usually simple and understated rather than trendy or flashy. They are often made from high-quality materials like leather or precious metals, so they may cost more upfront. However, these pieces are likely to last longer and be more durable than cheaper, lower-quality options.

When choosing accessories, consider your personal style. Accessories should reflect your personal style and work with your existing wardrobe. For example, if you prefer a more bohemian look, a scarf or a pair of statement earrings might be a good choice. If you prefer a more classic look, a simple watch or a pair of stud earrings might be a better fit.

Don’t be afraid to mix and match different styles and materials to create a unique look. For example, you could pair a gold watch with a silver bracelet or a leather belt with a fabric bag.

Lastly, choose accessories that are practical for your lifestyle. For example, a sleek watch or a pair of pearl earrings might be a good choice if you work in a formal office setting. A durable backpack or a pair of sneakers might be a better fit if you have a more active lifestyle.

lady in dress and wide brim hat

Get Creative

 Experiment with different styles and looks to see what works for you. Try pairing unexpected items together or adding accessories to create a unique, personal look.

 For example, a classic black dress can be dressed up with heels and a statement necklace for a formal event or dressed down with sneakers and a denim jacket for a casual outing.

Also, don’t be afraid to DIY. You can customize your clothes or accessories to make them your own. This can be as simple as adding patches or pins to a denim jacket or as involved as refashioning an old dress into something new.

Keep an Eye Out for Deals

You can take advantage of plenty of sales throughout the year to shop for your favorite pieces, especially between August and September and between December and January.

A lot of stores have sales around this time because people are getting ready to buy clothing for the next season, so they are forced to clear whatever stock is left of the season to make way for the new collection of the coming season.

It’s not uncommon to find up to 70% discounts on luxury items from stores like Zara, Mango and H&M. 

To know when stores are offering discounted sales, you can set up discount alerts from websites like Lyst, Covvet, Shopstyle, and Shop it to me.

woman in black jumpsuits and a rack of clothes

Mix and Match

Instead of buying complete outfits, invest in a few key pieces that you can mix and match to create a variety of looks. This allows you to get more mileage out of your wardrobe and avoid buying items you don’t need.

To successfully mix and match, you want to first invest in basics, such as a black skirt or a pair of white jeans, and build your outfit around it. You also want to have these basics in neutral colors like black, white, and gray because they are easy to mix and match with other colors

You also want to play around with different patterns. Patterns can add interest and depth to an outfit making you look put together. However, it’s important to balance out patterned outfits with solid-colored pieces. For instance, you can try pairing a patterned top with solid-colored pants or vice versa.

This is not a fast rule though. If you are bold enough, you can try pairing different textures together. For instance, you can pair a chunky knit sweater with a pair of leather pants. This will most certainly add depth and interest to the entire outfit.

Additionally, don’t be afraid to mix high-end and low-end pieces. This, too,  can add interest and personality to an outfit. For example, you could pair a designer handbag with a pair of thrift store jeans.

In addition to making you look stylish while on a budget, mixing and matching outfits is also a great way to express your personal style, so have fun with it, and don’t be afraid to try new things!

white tee and jeans

You may not have a million dollars to spend on luxury clothes and high-end accessories, but guess what? Even with the little that you have, you can still look stylish and expensive. As long as you know where to shop and the pieces to shop for, the world is yours to slay on.

Always remember looking stylish has very little to do with how much you spend but more about knowing your style and putting a lot of thought into selecting your outfits.

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