Affordable fashion

Style on a Budget

by Kimberly Lawson


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With trends changing almost every day, it's nearly impossible to own a high fashion wardrobe on a budget. As a college student majoring in fashion, I know this all too well. But with a bit of creativity, I've learned that it only takes a few tricks and tips to stay in style, season to season, and still have enough money to pay my tuition.

Update Your Wardrobe

I've learned to never throw anything away. Why? Because all trends are recycled over time. For instance, I picked up a pair of wedged-heeled sandals about seven years ago. Mind you, I'm usually tempted to throw things out after six months. Thankfully, I hung on to these, and I was able to keep them intact over the years. Much to my surprise, wedged heels are back in style again. So instead of spending $60+ dollars on a new pair of shoes for the summer, I will simply dust off my old pair and keep the money comfortably in my wallet.

So, maybe you can't keep every single thing, and if that is the case, at least keep your basics. These items can always be updated to fit new styles. Current trends include layering, belted outfits and chunky jewelry. These are all a stylish penny pinchers dream because they don't require money to be spent on an entire outfit to get the look. By taking a simple white blouse that you've probably had in your closet for ages, and belting it at your natural waist with a thick, red leather belt, you've suddenly created an outfit worthy of the current pages of Vogue.

eBay is a Battlefield!

But completely worth the fight! It's important to realize shopping isn't limited to malls and boutiques. Great pieces can be found in odd places such as discount stores or vintage shops, and usually for a fraction of the regular price. Ebay is a great example of just that. It can be competitive, especially if the item is popular, and it takes a bit of skill and savvy to master.

When you're set on a certain item, make sure you know your competition. Keep an eye on the product daily. Most bidding activity takes place in the last few seconds before an auction closes. Plan your time; if you really want it, make sure you will have Internet access when the auction ends. Pay close attention to everything that happens for the last five minutes of the auction. Also, make sure to use eBay's automatic bidding feature; this can block other users from stealing your item in the last few seconds.

Sample Sales are a Dream

In case you're not familiar with the term, a sample sale is when the sample pieces from a particular line are sold at discounted price. This almost always includes mid-range to high-end designers, from Seven Jeans to Chloe, and discounts can go as high as 80% off. These special sales usually take place in big cities such as Los Angeles and New York. In LA, for example, the designer showrooms at the California Mart hold sample sales on the last Friday of every month. Boutiques and lofts often hold their own sample sales as well.

Now that I have you drooling, you're probably wondering how to find these sales. Aside from the California Mart, sites such as DailyCandy.com and PlanetLuLu.com will update you as soon as a sample sale is being held in your area by simply signing up with them. But be prepared when you attend one of these; the other shoppers are just as dead set on getting a good deal as you are. Because quantities are limited, you'll want to show up before the doors even open. Hold on to anything you want to buy because sample sale shoppers are notorious for snatching the potential purchases of others. Often times, dressing rooms aren't available, so wear a pair of fitted shorts and a tank top underneath your clothes, and be prepared to change in the store with everyone else. Most importantly, bring plenty of cash! Many sample sales don't accept credit cards or checks.

To make a long story short, you don't need to have the last name Hilton to be a fashionista. Your look can stay up to date with a little bit of creativity, time, and most importantly your basic sense of style.


Kimberly Lawson is a current fashion student, as well a freelance writer. She has merged her passions for technology, entertainment and fashion, with her skills as a writer for a perfect mix.

Take the Next Step

  • Some great fashion bargains can be found online too! Sign up to be on a mailing lists for your favorite stores. They will notify you of their sales and offer special savings.
  • If you do purchase online, sign up for a cash back account at www.ebates.com. Get back a portion of your online purchases (in addition to those big discounts).
  • Great things are happening on Pinterest! Visit our "Beauty on a Budget" board today!
  • Take control of your finances. Subscribe to our weekly "Surviving Tough Times" newsletter. This free html newsletter will provide ways to survive in this challenging economy. Each issue features nine articles to help you stretch your dollar!

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