Who do we most often see wearing the classy look? The people that come to mind when I think of it are royals, executives and diplomats alike. For this reason, the look usually appears to come with a high price tag. Dressing in a classy manner is a wonderful way to dress both modestly and chic, and despite the fact that affluent people of all walks of life love the look – you don’t necessarily have to break the bank to dress the part. In fact, there are many different ways to achieve the classy look and keep your wardrobe budget friendly.
Personally speaking, I work full-time and make a modest living for where I live in the Boston area. As much as I would love to splurge on expensive items for my closet, I have to be realistic (for the time being anyways – I’m a pretty ambitious gal and dream BIG) and I can’t always afford the best of the best. So today, I am going to share with you my seven tips for dressing classy on a budget:
ONE. THRIFT SHOP & BUY PRE-LOVED
This is a pretty obvious tip, but I am going to share it anyways! I am the biggest advocate for thrift shopping and buying clothing that is pre-loved (the fancy way of saying second hand, used, etc.) Buying second hand is a budget friendly way to stock up on the classics without paying retail. Both online and brick-and-mortar shops have great deals anywhere from 50-90% off sticker price! Some of my favorite pre-loved shops are TheRealReal.com (to see my review click here), ThredUp.com (to watch my review click here) and Buffalo Exchange (for anybody local to Boston). eBay and Craigslist also offer great second hand options as well.
TWO. MAXIMIZE WHAT YOU ALREADY OWN
If you’ve got it, wear it! Sometimes, the best way to dress classy on a budget is to make use of the clothing you already own. Modifying old clothes to fit you better by taking them to the tailors or sewing on embellishments (such as adding a little lace detail to an old skirt or blouse, for example) is a great way of giving new life to old pieces. If you don’t want to spend the money on going to the tailors, a little home-sewing is simple once you get started! Especially with online videos for sewing hems or adding darts to your clothes.
THREE. ONLY INVEST IN THE CLASSICS
Investing in the classics whenever you shop for clothing is a great way to ensure that you are getting the most out of each purchase. Classics are timeless and never go out of style. They tend to be simple in nature and are offered each year for sale (no matter what is currently trending). Classics and wardrobe basics can be worn multiple times and styled in hundreds of different ways; giving you the most wear for each item.
initial price of the item ÷ # of times you’ve worn the piece = $ Cost per wear
This concept goes hand in hand with the cost per wear formula. To calculate how much an item is really costing you, divide the price you paid for the item by the number of times you have worn it. Chances are, the clothing that you seem to grab over and over again out of your wardrobe, despite their initial cost, might be the clothing giving you the most value – not just the cheap $4 shirt you bought on sale but only wore one time.
FOUR. RENT OUTFITS FOR SPECIAL OCCASIONS
When shopping for a special event or a one-time occasion, I turn to Rent the Runway to rent my outfits. Usually the money I spend renting a fabulous designer piece is often less then what I would pay trying to purchase something fitting for the occasion that I would actually want to wear a second time. Instead of buying an item I probably wouldn’t want wear again anyways or just buying something really inexpensive that I dislike – renting is the best way to look great wearing something beautiful without breaking the bank.
FIVE. BUY CLOTHES BASED ON THE REALISTIC LIFE YOU LIVE
How often do you see a piece of clothing on sale and buy it because you think you’ll wear it? When in reality, you don’t attend many events or live a lifestyle where having a certain piece actually makes sense. To keep on budget, I always recommend planning your outfits using The Rachel Review S.O.F.A method (click here for the video) to gauge how often you wear formal, semi-formal, and informal pieces. That way, you’ll always have options for the lifestyle you actually live and won’t waste money on clothing you wouldn’t really wear given your circumstances anyways.
SIX. MAKE USE OF THE PRICE CHECKER TOOL
Almost every single retail website has an option to filter clothing by price, and when shopping on a budget, using this tool is key! Instead of teasing myself with items out of my price range, I adjust the price before online shopping to make sure I’m only seeing options that are within my budget. This way, when I see a cute top come up in the search results, I know it’s a real option for me. You can also use the price filtering tools to see if any items are on sale or have special discounts applied!
SEVEN. ASK AND YOU SHALL RECEIVE!
Everybody knows somebody that is just dying to clear out their closet! If you are hunting down a specific piece to complete a look, don’t be shy! Ask and you shall receive. Whenever I am trying to pull together a look, I ask everybody I know if they have any items they are looking to get rid of. Even if we aren’t the exact same size, a quick trip to the tailors (or sewing a piece myself) can usually take a hand-me-down piece and turn it into something fabulous! I have found that older women especially love to gift the younger ladies in their lives the treasured pieces from their old wardrobes in the hopes that they will be worn once again – and usually after removing the shoulder pads (LOL) I have found some amazing classic pieces by simply asking about them.
Last but not least (and I have said this time and time again), dressing in a classy manner means absolutely nothing without having the personality to go with it. How you carry yourself, the way you treat others and the respect you show yourself and the world can truly make or break the classy look.
How do you dress classy on a budget? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!