Do you dream of a high fashion wardrobe but you don’t have a trendy label fashion budget? I love clothes and so do my girls and (shhh) even the Big Guy. Fashion is our passion after travel and equal to food. We love nice clothes that feel good, wear well and look good on us. My favorite clothes are the ones that are made so well that you feel naked when you wear them. Not too bulky. Not too tight. No gross cheapy fabrics that hang weird. I want clothes that fit and move with my body and look and feel good on me. When I learned to shop smart, it elevated my fashion game to a whole new level.
My current wardrobe is pretty amazing. I’ve been a “clothes whore” since it was “clothes horse”. That’s how long I’ve been addicted to fashion. I got my first job just for that specific reason, to buy myself a trendy fashion wardrobe. But, full disclosure, I’m also pretty budget-conscious. What can I say, I grew up poor and as much as I love the good life and nice things, spending money on myself isn’t something that I think I will ever be comfortable with.
Now, before you go thinking I’m cheap. I’m not. But I am very aware and I love a good sale. I don’t love a sale for the sake of a sale. I know people like that. No, I don’t have a stock room full of Rag and Bone Jeans or Free People dresses because they were on sale for half off. I don’t hoard clothes the way Mama June hoards toilet paper. I only like to spend money on things I want and to some degree need. And unfortunately, I couldn’t wear a stock room full of jeans in a lifetime.
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I realized a long time ago that it makes more sense to spend $150 on a good pair of jeans that I’ll wear every day than a $25 on a pair of jeans that I will never wear. In one case, I’ve wasted $25. In the other case, I’ve gotten every bit of $150 of use out of those jeans. This is how I approach shopping. I am in it for the long game most days. I look at a good piece of fashion as an investment.
There definitely is a difference in higher quality products versus lesser quality ones. You definitely get what you pay for unless you shop wisely. I’ll be honest, I want $500 quality for $100 so I shop like it’s my job.
If you want to take your wardrobe from Target and Kohls to Nordstrom and Macy’s or even to Louis Vuitton and Burberry, these tricks work to get you the fashion wardrobe that you want and deserve. Believe me when I tell you, once you go quality fashion over trendy chic ( though, I still do love Primark, Zara and Target for cute trendy pieces for myself and the girls) you will never go back. It’s like trying to go back to a PC after using Mac. It’s just too impossible to do. You can’t unknow the good life.
Here are my tips for owning an amazing, high-quality fashion wardrobe on a budget that will last forever and fit like they were made for your body.
- Shop your favorite brands when they are on sale.
Fashion seasons don’t match up with actual seasons. So don’t worry about being out of style. By the time the average person is buying their swimsuits, the fashion industry is marking it down because it’s already out of season. Fashion has to be ahead of the curve, you do not. For example, the day after the 4th of July, you can find crazy sales on bathing suits and summer clothing. If you live in the Midwest, like me, you know summer doesn’t really start until July anyway. In addition, there are also wardrobe options like the ocean apparel wherein you can support the planet and be fashionable at the same time.
2. Christmas in July.
All the Big brands have Christmas in July sales and the sales are amazing. With a little planning, you can save a ton on everything from half price appliances, to hot tubs and especially fashion.
3.Nordstroms Annual Sale
It’s everything you want, on sale. All the name brands that your heart desires. You just have to be patient. Building an amazing wardrobe is a long game.
4.Macy’s Stackable Sales
Ok, Macy’s lets you stack sales up to 5, I believe. So does Kohls for that matter ( if you are thinking back-to-school for the kids). Also, in case you weren’t aware, there are constantly sales going on at Macy’s. Like constantly. I am a Free People junkie. I will freely admit that I am obsessed with their products. I have gotten great deals where I have paid less than half.
- Prime Day
Not sure that you are going to find crazy couture on Prime Day but whatever you find will be a steal and even if it’s just a few really good quality pieces, a deal is a deal and that’s money to be spent on something else. For instance, I’ve been eyeballing a pair of Stella McCartney shoes. While the shoes are most likely not on a Prime Day sale, maybe something else is and that extra saved money can go towards my Stellas.
When it’s back-to-school time, everybody is shopping for their children but guess what? Sales are not just restricted to your children. College-aged people go “back-to-school” too and they are full human sized. Get your sale on. Everything is on sale. Go take advantage.
7. Outlet Malls
Not all outlet malls are created equal. You need to find yourself a good fashion outlet mall. I have a couple favorites. I’ve scored some crazy deals on Burberry and Kate Spade at these malls. You just have to go there with an open mind.
8. Shop the Sales Rooms and Racks at your favorite high-end stores.
One of my absolute favorite stores to shop at is Von Maur and they have amazing sales. Eventually, everything ends up on the sale rack and they do 3 markdowns and being that I’ve been a loyal customer for over a decade, I know the days they do first markdowns and subsequent markdowns. Plus, they have absolutely the best customer service, no interest, free shipping and gift wrapping. They are heaven to my budget friendly high fashion wardrobe heart. Did I mention they have an entire room for markdown shoes? Also, FYI, places like Intermix and Anthropologie also have great sales racks. You just have to be willing to take the time to search for them. You may be thinking, that sounds like so much work and I don’t have the time. I get that. I really do but what if you could find a Burberry bag for $100 that is normally $800. Is it worth it then?
9. Try it before You make a Huge Investment
Last but not least, if you want something trendy and you are not sure it’s “your style” but you want to try it, by all means, hit up your local Target, H&M, Zara or Primark. The prices are definitely affordable, the clothes are cute and you get a big bang for your buck. The thing is don’t expect Burberry quality at Target prices. Though, I highly recommend checking out the Target special collaborations whenever they are available. It’s a great way to dip your toe into high fashion without high fashion prices.
It is not a dirty word. I am not telling you to go to Good Will and find yourself some couture. Though, depending on where you live, that may be an option. Where I live, in the burbs, it is not. But if you are are in Chicago, NYC or L.A. gently used high fashion at a bargain basement price may not be a bad thing. In fact, in my mind, that would make you the winner, winner chicken dinner. Hell, you may even have money left to buy yourself some groceries.
There are sites like ThreadUp that can help you get that high fashion wardrobe that you covet on a reality-based mom’s budget. My favorite non-traditional ways to shop is via my favorite fashion bloggers. Look, I’m aware that some influencers might promote items because they are being paid to but honestly, I don’t care. I care about how it looks, how it fits and what it cost.
One of my absolute favorite fashion bloggers, Paola Alberdi of Blank Itinerary, always features a swipe up feature on her outfits on Instagram and not only does she share the brands she is wearing, she shares ” for less” copy this look styles. Occasionally, if she is going to get rid of something she no longer uses, she will offer it up at a huge discount to her fans.
To be honest, you can have the fashion wardrobe that you’ve always wanted on a budget, you just have to be willing to plan and check often. It won’t be a Target budget but it’ll be worth it. You just have to decide how much you want a piece and figure out the best way to get it at an affordable price.
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I know there are women who know how to coupon like it’s their job. They have mastered the art of saving money on food and household goods. I wish I could. I hate paying for toilet paper. But, as it stands, I can’t even remember to present the coupons…that I picked off the product…in the store to the cashier.
But, I can sniff out a Kate Spade bag on final markdown like a drug-seeking German shepherd at the airport. This is my gift and I am teaching my girls the same. Why pay full price when you can get whatever you want on sale? That’s the key…what.you.want! Life is too short to put up with uncomfortable fashion to save a few bucks and, repeat after me, every woman deserves a Louis Vuitton. And believe me, it all goes on sale. You just have to want it, look for it and be patient.
What are your secrets for how to get a high fashion wardrobe on a budget?