3 ways to look great this fall

Cheap Strategies for Fall Fashions

by Lynn Bulmahn


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The Fashion Frugalista

It's September. Not only are the youngsters back to school, but also many work places revert from "summer casual" to a more businesslike dress code. Both kids and adults need to rev up their wardrobes. If the mall is too pricey, re-think your strategies. Sprucing up an existing wardrobe, finding items on the "aftermarket" racks, and using garments in a new way allow you to save cash but not look poor.

Make It Sew

Begin by inspecting your fall wardrobe items. Are buttons missing? Are there any tears? Is the hem unraveled? If so, grab the sewing basket and start mending. Do this while you're watching TV. It may take a few commercial breaks to make repairs, but it's time well spent.

Clothes look outdated? Remove whatever makes them yesterday's news. Taking off a faddish feature may be as easy as snipping it with the scissors.

Tarnished buttons spoil an otherwise attractive jacket. One of my nicest suits began looking downright dingy because of this. Fabric store buttons were priced sky high. So, I hit up a thrift store during a bag sale (where everything you stuff in a bag is $1). I bagged clothes with great-looking buttons. After its four battered buttons were swapped out with some secondhand shiny ones, my suit was once again ready for duty. The cost of this facelift was pocket change.

If a woman's or child's blouse or sweater has one or two buttons missing, and you can't find an exact match, replace some of the buttons with a different kind. Perhaps every other one can be swapped out so that it looks like the designer deliberately chose a variety of button styles. It'll give the garment a more whimsical look, and no one will be the wiser.

Holes on youngster's clothes can be patched with appliques or other decorations. Instead of a cloth belt, try a leather one. It looks more upscale.

One More Time

The law of supply and demand has come into play during the Recession; secondhand clothes aren't quite as cheap now that more folks shop thrift stores and consignment shops. As some department stores realized their customer base was dropping, so did their prices. Savvy shoppers scouting sale racks or, sadly, store closing sales can snap up incredible buys on new clothes.

That's not to say you'll get a complete outfit. Perhaps one piece is all that's left of a multi-item set sold as separates. Use it with something you already have for a new ensemble.

A trick from an image expert is to wear a matching solid top and bottom "base" and then toss a contrasting sweater, jacket, or outer blouse over it. I often pair things with a straight black skirt. Black goes with everything, stretches my work wardrobe, and is great for business travel.

Visit better stores and acquaint yourself with top-quality brands. Then, find them secondhand. If anyone asks, say it came from the "GW Boutique." No one has to know it's really Goodwill!



Opt for classic fashions. Trends last about three years; classic looks are "in" forever. If you want a fad fashion, make it an inexpensive accessory.

Estate sales are treasure troves for accessories, such as vintage hats, purses, scarves and costume jewelry. My fabulous 1950s sunglasses were $1 at such a sale.

Do you knit? A grandmother bought ugly knitwear at garage sales. Unraveling them, she recycled the yarn into fashionable and "green" new sweaters.

Related: Creating a Wardrobe on a Budget

Find New Uses

Mix and match clothing for new looks. If possible, hang every garment on its own hanger. It's easier to see what to combine.

Create a business casual pant set with scrub suit trousers. I'm not talking about baggy drawstring scrubs that have "General Hospital" stamped on the seat! Instead, uniform shops, discount marts, and thrift stores sell stylish elastic waist pants in a rainbow of hues. Inexpensive scrub pants wear like iron, have great pockets and seldom wrinkle. Teamed with a print blouse or pullover sweater, they look amazing.

Petite ladies wanting a tailored outfit can head over to the boys' department for low-cost jackets and Oxford shirts. Wear them with straight skirts to look all "business." Men's and boy's clothing is cheaper, sturdier and lasts longer.

Fashion sense is always in vogue. With these strategies, your autumn wardrobe can have more "flash" with less cash.

Reviewed September 2017


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