It is absolutely possible to look good for less. Of course, I know this now. But I haven’t always. To be clear, I’ve never been big on name brands. For me, the issue was typically quantity. It may seem absurd, but I’ve always wanted a walk-in closet, so when Eric and I bought my first home I made sure the master bedroom had a huge one- just for me. The next order of business…filling that bad boy up.

I figured, ‘what’s the point of a huge walk-in closet that’s only partially filled?’ This mission, unfortunately, fed my shopping appetites. It started with clothes and shoes and then blossomed into a full-fledged shopping habit.

Clothes. Shoes. Purses. Makeup. Jewelry…Why so many foundations?


Today, these are all (mostly) former vices. But in years past it wasn’t unusual for me to drop $400 or $500 bucks on a whim ‘treating myself’ to items dictated by the latest fashion trends.

Oddly, I even felt justified in my behavior because I never used credit cards to fund my shopping trips.  I worked hard, so I erroneously believed that I should shop hard! Eventually came to the realization that my shopping habits were preventing me from paying off debt, namely student loans, as quickly as I knew I could.

So I just stopped shopping. Cold turkey. It was (extremely) difficult at first. But I pressed on and before I knew nearly 2 years had gone by without me buying shoes. I also made it nearly a year without buying any clothing. I ended my Clothing No Buy when I became pregnant and absolutely had to purchase some maternity wear. My existing stockpile of maternity clothes had been purchased 8 years before during my first pregnancy…trust me, not a good look. Let’s just say maternity wear has come a long way.

You might not be ready to give up shopping altogether. I completely understand that. Perhaps you are just looking for ways to reign in your spending while keeping your fashion game on point. No worries! There are countless ways to look good on a budget. Looking for more frugal living tips?

Check out 31 Frugal Living Hacks That Will Save You Thousands

How to Look Good For Less

7 Tips to Look Good on a Budget

1. Shop your own closet.

Before you run down to the mall to buy something new evaluate your existing wardrobe to see if you can find an outfit to fit your needs. Bored with what you have or feel as if you wear the same things ALL the time? It’s probably because you are! Most of us wear 20% of our clothing 80% of the time. We reach for the same articles of clothes and create the same outfit combinations all the time. Step out of your comfort zone and pair an oft-worn top with a different pair of pants and shoes to create an outfit that has a new feel to it. Still, have items with tags on them? Perfect. You have already spent your hard-earned dollars on the item so rip that tag off and get to wearing! Add a pair of earrings, purse, or scarf that you never wear and start feeling like a new you.

How to Look Good for Less

2. Shop with a purpose. 

No more mindless strolling through the mall because you are bored and want to kill time. Only make trips to the store or hop online to purchase the item that you are in need of.

3. Shop offseason.

The best time to find deals on clothing and shoes is during the change of season. The stores are clearing out winter merchandise such as sweaters, coats, and boots to make room for the latest spring fashions. Swing by the clearance rack and stock up on items that you will need for next winter and store them in your closet until the cold weather returns.

4. Invest in quality over quantity.

Every time my family moved my closet got larger and larger. With each move, I felt compelled to fill up my new space. Off I went to the mall where so many stores offered fast fashion, i.e. cute trendy clothing, inexpensive, and cheaply made. I have had so many items fall apart after just a couple of washes. Instead of buying a bunch of cheaply made items, invest in a well-constructed piece that will stand the test of time and the rinse cycle in your washing machine.

5. Buy classic pieces that will never go out of style.

Although there is nothing wrong with being on-trend, I would caution against filling your closet with items that will no longer be fashionable in 6 months. That is money down the drain. Buy a trendy piece here and there but strategically purchase items that you will reach for year-in and year-out. A trench coat, pencil skirt, little black dress, structured blazer…these items are always on-trend.

6. Don’t be afraid to buy used.

Hit up consignment shops, second-hand stores, and yard sales in upscale neighborhoods to get the best bang for your buck. Also, consider a swap with a friend or family member who wears the same size. She may have some items that she is looking to get rid of and you can make a trade.

7. Cut out dry cleaning.

Or at least scale back on it. Dry cleaning is extremely pricey and unless you locate one that uses organic cleaners, the chemicals are not the healthiest for you or your clothing. Many items that sport ‘Dry Clean’ only on the label can be hand washed or washed in your dryer on the gentle cycle. Then you can air dry them, which also preserves the longevity of your clothing.

What’s your favorite frugal fashion tip?