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!
Abigail @ipickuppennies says
I worked at the student paper in college. One gal, who loved all things Banana Republic, complimented me on my boots. She asked if I got them at BR. I said, “No, these are Payless.” (I don’t recommend Payless long-term, but it was a way for me to see whether I wore the boots enough to invest in a real pair.) She then said she liked my sweater and asked if I got it at… I dunno, somewhere. I told her that I’d gotten it at Kmart on Black Friday.
There was quiet.
I wear a little nicer these days — I think you can get away with more when you’re thin — but overall I still think that look and quality are what matter. If it happens to be a nice/favorite brand, so much the better.
That said, I still have the “Coach” tags on the purse my husband bought me this Christmas. (I told him I loved it, but also threatened him physically if he ever spent that much on a bag again.)
Dee S says
I have never been much of a purse girl, but I have definitely liked shopping at BR in the past! These days I’d rather chuck as much money as possible at my student loans than spend money on clothes, though.
Shoes are one thing that I will often spend a little more on, because I think with shoes sometimes you get what you pay for. I bought a really nice pair of winter boots about 3-4 years ago and they still look great and are super warm. They’ll probably last me at least a few more years. Totally worth it!
Petrish @ Debt Free Martini says
I love nice things, but I go more for a type of style vice name brands. You can still look elegant and not spend your rent and gas money for it.
Dee S says
Exactly! And so often with clothing it’s hard to even tell what brand it is- unless it’s one of those that has the logo stamped all over it.
Niomi@Financially Confident says
I love finding name brands and/or well-made clothing at thrift stores. I’ve been shopping at thrift stores for over 15 years and many of the nicest items in my closet came from Goodwill. Being patient really is the key to scoring great finds!
Dee S says
I think that patience is the key. It sometimes takes a little longer to sift through the racks at thrift stores, but it can be totally worth it when you score those great finds!
Michelle @fitisthenewpoor says
I am a simple girl too. I like plain t-shirts and pairs of comfy jeans. For dresses, I like solid prints with certain hemlines. Being really specific in what I like helps me narrow down what to buy. I don’t spend money unless it falls into my style wheel house (unless it is polkadot because I most own everything polkadots!).
Dee S says
Love polka dots Michelle! I bet you are the cutest new mommy rockin’ the polka dots!
Claudia @ Two Cup House says
My wardrobe is also limited to jeans and t-shirts. I have suits for work, when required. I have dresses for special occasions, when required. But my preference is free t-shirts from tradeshows and conferences and the same jeans I’ve been wearing for about 10 years. It’s kind of funny that I like my t-shirts best because I used to spend a ton on clothes at Ann Taylor.
Dee S says
I used to spend a lot on clothes too. Now that I am a stay at home mom and writer, it costs a lot less to maintain a “work” wardrobe! But even when I worked outside the home, I tried hard to stick to classic looks and styles. One autumn on a whim I bought a pair of orange corduroy pants- barely ever wore those! Sticking to the basics is the best way to get the most out of your money.
I tend to buy nicer brands at thrift stores. I would rather stock up on nice stuff at a good price than cheap stuff that will fall apart after a few wears.
Dee S says
Same here. I buy nicer brands for myself at the best prices I can find. So far I’ve been a little less picky with clothes for our daughter, mainly because I know that anything I buy her she’ll outgrow within weeks anyway! Thankfully I wear my clothes a little longer before outgrowing them, lol!
Mrs. Budgets @MrandMrsBudgets says
I’ve never been one as well to want to wear clothes with obvious labels on the exterior. I feel people buy those items just so other people can see. As I have gotten older, I dress more simple and care more about quality (of course buying them at a discount).
Dee S says
I agree. Sometimes I feel that clothes with obvious brands written all over them are mainly geared toward the younger set? At least that’s who I see wearing those types of things. But even when I was in my teens and early 20s I never cared for that type of fashion either. Love the name of your blog by the way!
Jon @ Money Smart Guides says
I was guilty of buying brand names when I was younger. Funny thing was, the name of the brand was inside the shirt so no one knew it was name brand except for me!
But it all hit me one day at work when a co-worker had a shirt I liked. When I asked, he told me he got it at a department store. I was floored and stopped wasting my money on name brands.
Dee S says
Your comment reminded me of a time a few years ago when my husband and I had work friends over to our house for dinner. They complimented some of our furniture and asked where we got it. When I told them Target, they looked pretty stunned! I think they were expecting something much nicer. But hey, we like the prices at Target better!!
I’ve loved the text! Perfect
I’m from Brazil, so…I’m a little bit far from the flea markets! 😘
No flea markets in Brazil? Bummer! Hopefully you can still find cheap places to shop! Thanks for stopping by.