Dress Like a Diva on a Thrift Store Budget

by Kimberly Danger


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It's a common misconception that you have to sacrifice style while on a budget. As a long time fan of fashion and all things frugal, I've never believed that. For as long as I can remember, I've found ways to create the looks I wanted at prices I could afford. If you're truly a frugal fashionista like me, you'll find a way to have your cake and eat it too.

On my most recent fashion finding trip, I picked up a bag full of name-brand apparel including labels like Michael Kors, Tommy Hilfiger and Tahari for over 90% off retail. I didn't hit the consignment stores or thrift shops. There was no secondhand clothing this time. My deals were brand new with the tags still attached. I got nearly $700 worth of clothing for only $20. That's less than I would have spent at the thrift store! I walked out of the store with jeans, a dressy jacket, a fun swing top, and a casual blouse. That trip wasn't just dumb luck. I've had similar experiences each and every year. I've stumbled upon sales so often that most of my wardrobe has been purchased like that.

Timing is everything. The best markdowns occur at the end of each season. Mid-to-late September and January are my favorite times to look for clothing deals. That's after the back-to-school rush has subsided and all the Christmas sweaters and outfits have been returned.

Make sure that the styles aren't too trendy and will still look good next season. Since most of the rock-bottom prices are at the end of each season, you'll be socking most of your bargains away and be wearing them next year. That's fine as long as you're opting for styles that will stand the test of time.

Shop often, purchase rarely. Scope out markdowns on a regular basis, but resist the urge to buy until prices hit rock bottom. Don't have time to visit the stores yourself? Let the Internet help you. Visit the Mommysavers What's In Store forum to get the heads-up on great prices and deals other moms are finding in bricks-and-mortar stores.

Get to know the sales associates at your favorite stores. Often, they will clue you in as to when their next round of markdowns will take place. Don't be afraid to ask them outright; most are happy to divulge that information. Some may even go as far as putting some things they think you might like on hold for the occasion, but you have to play your cards right.

Just because it's on sale doesn't mean you should buy it. On my recent trip, I removed half of my cart's contents before I hit the checkout lane. If I didn't absolutely love it or it didn't fit perfectly, it had to go back, no matter how low the price. It was hard putting $2 tops back on the rack, but I knew that they would occupy valuable closet space and not get worn as often. Keep your willpower in check and realize there will always be another deal waiting in the store around the corner.


Kimberly Danger is the publisher of Mommysavers.com, a website for moms interested in saving time and money. For seven years, Mommysavers has been helping people live well for less. Kimberly is the author of 1000 Best Baby Bargains. She lives in Southern Minnesota with her husband and two kids.

Take the Next Step:

  • Go through closet, noting what is needed to fill in the gaps, and place this list in your purse. The next time you're shopping begin your quest for the latest fashions at rock-bottom prices.
  • Some of the best deals are found on the internet. And you can usually increase your savings by using ebates cash back.
  • Subscribe to our weekly "Surviving Tough Times" newsletter by sending an email to subscribe-InflationFighters@hub.thedollarstretcher.com.
    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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