On a recent outing, I was surprised to overhear two girls talking about clothes they intended to buy (or have their parents buy for them, probably) and it caught my attention that they were openly talking about Louis Vuitton bags and Burberry scarves. By looking at the girls, I couldn’t conclude whether they could afford these expensive items, but it got me thinking: do you have to wear brand name clothes in order to feel good?
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My love for all things plain
No matter how hard I try, I cannot make myself fall in love with clothes which have brand names stamped all over. Somehow, it makes the pieces look cheap, and I never liked wearing such clothes. On the other hand, most high-quality, expensive items have a simple brand logo or a small stamp in a not-so-obvious place, making the clothes look more elegant and easier to pair up. I was always fond of plain colors and patterned accessories since these were much easier to combine. For me, a sign of an elegant and high-quality piece is exactly its plainness.
The wrong motive
Like the girls I mentioned at the beginning, I see many people all around me buying brand name clothes not for the superior quality or the desire to leave it as an heirloom to somebody else, but because they like the idea of that brand. They may feel like they give out the impression of a wealthy individual with impeccable taste, but to me it is only bragging. Designer pieces I own are remarkable, and I wear them often, but people seldom notice them because of the kind of clothes I like to wear – plain. If I like the way a certain shirt or skirt looks on me, I will buy it and wear it be it brand name or not. Even if it is brand name, it doesn’t mean I will look good in it.
Creating your own style
One time, my good friend decided to make her own bag. It was a simple shopper bag, pale yellow in color, and she had this brilliant idea to paint LV logo on it, but to write ‘Lord Voldemort’ underneath. The bag was a success and she was a star anywhere she went; people loved her idea and she was in love with her bag. One day, though, she overheard girls talking about her, saying: “As if we can’t notice it’s not a genuine Louis Vuitton bag.” To be perfectly honest, it was never about the idea to pass this simple bag as a LV bag, only her desire to create her own style.
Brand name clothes, after all
I mentioned I own several brand name items, and they are, beyond doubt, of the highest quality, and I am in love in every single one of them. And guess what? I bought over 90% of them in second hand and consignment stores. These places are a true goldmine; they have great brands which can be found for low prices, and they often have clothes from different periods. l adore retro pieces, so when I find something from the disco or the hippie era, I immediately fall in love and buy the item. I love my own style, and I am not under pressure to buy the most fashionable brand name pieces whenever I see them.
In my own experience, I will most probably find brand name clothes at a flea market, or buy an authentic and original retro piece for a very little money. You can also find some great ideas on Swap.com blog about how to shop and dress for less.
How to Dress Well on a Budget
1. Buy basic, classic pieces
For example, a simple white tee can be worn in a variety of circumstances, and everywhere from the mall to the museum to work.
2. Choose neutral colors
Colors like black, white, and beige are timeless and match everything. One great pair of quality black pants will be far more useful to you (and be worn far more often) than that funky pair of orange corduroys that you just HAD to buy last fall.
3. Be a smart shopper
Be mindful of what types of clothing will be better priced when. For example, everyone is buying swimsuits in May. But is that when you are likely to get the best price? Definitely not. Check back in August and you’re likely to find prices that you are much happier with.
4. Know your stores
Places like TJ Maxx are a great place to find name brands at a low price. And, as mentioned, thrift stores and consignment shops can be fantastic places to find the real treasures that you’d never see at a traditional retailer.
5. Take advantage of discounts
For example, many stores will offer discounts to college students, members of the military, and senior citizens.
6. Be mindful of your budget
It can be easy to overlook this step, but one sure-fire way to not overspend on clothing is to know how much you actually CAN afford to spend. If you are deep in debt or on a limited income, your clothing budget is likely to be smaller. If figuring out your budget is an issue for you, my favorite FREE online resource to help you manage/budget your money (and plan for retirement) is Personal Capital (review here).
Have you shopped at thrift stores or flea markets for clothing? What’s been your best find? What other tips do you have for dressing well on a budget?
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About the Author: Chloe Miller is a fashion and beauty blogger from Adelaide, Australia. Thanks for sharing tips on how to dress well on a budget, Chloe!