How To Look Like A Fashionista On A Frugalista Budget

By Sarah Ellis

Whether you spend endless hours pleasing your impossible boss, washing sinks full of dishes or changing zillions of dirty diapers, at the end of the day you want to feel like you’ve done something just for you. You may not have time to get a manicure or indulge in an episode of the Real Housewives, but dressing for you can certainly do the trick. Whether it’s with a fabulous handbag that carries all of the necessities, or the perfect statement necklace that garners tons of compliments, dressing for you can keep you centered.

But these days, all of us are looking for ways to cut corners and save some money, and unfortunately fashion is one of the first areas that gets the axe. Thrifty shopping isn’t just a goal, it’s a mindset and a lifestyle. When these tricks become habit, you’ll be shocked at how far your budget can stretch.

How to look like a fashionista on a frugalista budget:

1. Know When to Buy: If you shop at all, you know that end of the season sales are the best time to find really great bargains. You may not be in the market for a winter coat come spring or summer, but if you plan ahead and know it will need replacing, then grab it ahead of time! A lot of it is being in the right place at the right time, but knowing when to strike is the real key.

2. Mix quality with budget: The basics are what you really want to invest in, but when you’re adding in the extras or keeping up with trends, you can skip the expensive stuff. Basics would include a great pair of jeans, a basic cardigan, a blazer, great pair of nude or black heels, a string of pearls, pencil skirt, and a little black dress. Of course, you know your closet and your needs better than anyone, so if you know there’s one item that remains your “old faithful,” then paying more for it will certainly end up saving you money in the long run. If your $20 pair of flats gets beat up and thrown away at the end of every season, then spending $100 on a pair that will last you 6-8 years saves you time and money.

3. Be a sale ninja: Many major department stores and other retailers will let you use coupons even if they’re expired. You don’t have to be a coupon-clipping crazy to cash in on this either! Macy’s, for example, will let you combine mail coupons with in-store deals. Those savings can add up to 75% off and more in a hurry! That can make your more expensive investment pieces just as cheap as your bargain brands.

4. Go online: There’s a new trend in high fashion e-commerce. Websites like,,, and all offer high end designers at 50-70% off retail. These sales typically last a day or 2 and sell out quickly so you have to jump on it when the email update comes. But it’ll give you Manhattan socialite status for half the price. Scouting for great deals on these sites is fun and easy, and definitely gives you a shopping rush right in your chair. And of course, classics like eBay always sell new and gently used name brands at a huge bargain. Whether you’re just doing some regular browsing or target shopping, these sites are direct. No lines, no fighting off the rack, and no driving!

5.Outlets are your friend: If you’ve never outlet shopped, you’ve never lived. Most outlet stores these days carry their “factory” quality merchandise. These designs either use lower quality fabrics and trimmings, or may have minor imperfections that us “regular” consumers don’t even notice. But be careful, sometimes you think you’re getting a great deal at an outlet and you really aren’t saving all that much. In my experience, most outlet stores are hit or miss, but when it’s a hit, MAN is it a hit! Overall it’s best to know what you’re looking for and be savvy about the way you buy it. As hard as it is, have some self control when it comes to impulse buys. And remember, nobody
saves money by buying just to buy. Great deals are hard to pass up, but if you don’t think you’ll ever really wear those shoes, then you’re wasting your money.

Share these tips with your best girlfriends, but when your nosey coworker asks where you got your fabulous name brand shoes, you don’t have to tell her you got them way cheap. Now that sounds perfect.

Happy shopping!

Author Bio: I’m a bit obsessed with fashion, but equally so with planning my upcoming wedding. I love hunting down bargains and being the source of all fashion knowledge for my girlfriends.

You’re most likely to find me writing my fashion blog, reading fashion mags, plotting new ways to accessorize with a scarf , writing about aviator sunglasses in my day job, playing with my adorable puppy Luna, or loving on my future husband.

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  1. Jennie@IW says

    Great advice! I particularly like #2 – I think there are some things worth paying more for, and other items that you can definitely get away with being a bit cheap on.

  2. Pam@IW says

    Great article! One thing I always do is buy into the season, not before or at the beginning. It is the smart thing to do living in southern California with the warm weather clothes because we can usually wear them year round. I also shop the outlets whenever I am nearby.

  3. says

    Thanks for hosting my article! Hope you guys get some great shopping tips. Be sure to head over to my blog at for more fashion and beauty news and great shopping tips.I love keeping up with Imperfect Women! I always learn something new on the site. Thanks again!

  4. Teresa E. says

    “If you’ve never outlet shopped, you’ve never lived.”


    Lol. So true. I’ve gotten things at outlets for 75% off. Good brand names too.


    I’ve just recently discovered online stores that offer designer brands for lower prices. I have yet to order anything. I am suspicious of their authenticity.

  5. says

    Sarah, thanks for the great tips and the kind words about IW. I assume there isn’t a way to “follow” your blog via Google Blogger because it’s a Word Press blog, right? One can subscribe via email however?
    Lots of great tips here. Have you tried I know one of our fellow mods, Samantha loves it. I haven’t ordered from them yet, but I want to.

  6. says

    Teresa E.: You’re smart to think about authenticity before you buy! However, all of the sites I mentioned are extremely reputable and designers are proud to back them. If you’re ever questionable about the quality of the site or the prices look far too good to be true do a little research and see what you can find out about the company.

    Anya: You can follow me on Google Reader or subscribe via email list by leaving a comment and clicking “notify me of new posts via email.” Thanks for asking! I have yet to try but I certainly will now!

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