This is a post I’ve been meaning to do for a while, but just haven’t gotten around to it. I firmly believe that, regardless of how much money you have or make, you can wear things that make you look and feel good. Growing up, my family didn’t have a lot of money for things like new clothes, make up, etc. We had a clothing budget of about $100 per child, so we went shopping at Wal Mart at the beginning of every school year. Additionally, I had two younger brothers and a tomboy mother, so clothes shopping wasn’t at the top of anyone’s (but mine) “fun things to do” list. As a lover of fashion, I hated this, but learned to adapt. These are the tricks I learned when I was younger, along with some tips I’ve learned since.
1. If you don’t have a lot of money, buy simple pieces.
In middle and high school, you could almost always find me wearing white tennis shoes. They can be found in any Wal Mart shoe department, sale for about $10, and can match almost any casual outfit. I applied these three things to practically every piece of clothing I owned: could be bought at Wal Mart, was inexpensive, and matched several other things. Thus, I had bootcut jeans, plain t-shirts, diamond or pearl stud earrings, and those cheap sweatsuits with coordinating tops and bottoms (ugh, forget I mentioned the sweatsuits!).
Though I spend a lot more on clothes now (and shop much more frequently), my style has remained fairly simple. Think little black dresses, gray work slacks, simpler blouses with little pattern, and shoes that can go with many outfits. It’s hard to say whether my childhood influenced my current style or I just veer towards classic pieces, but I like what I like.
2. Know where to shop.
And by “know where to shop” I mean: know which stores/designers have clothes that make you look and feel your best. Know what silhouettes, pant lengths, and patterns work best for your body and your life. Know who has the best deals. Although I buy clothing from many different stores, here are the ones I most frequent:
Payless for shoes. Not all Payless shoes are created equal, but I find that the Dexter and Dexflex brand are the most comfortable and hold up the best. I have nude wedges, navy pumps, black flats and everything in between (some of them I’ve had for years!).
New York and Company for work clothing. New York and Company has two “styles” of business casual/professional clothing: Crosby Street and 7th Avenue. Crosby St. is for body shapes that are more “straight up and down” while 7th Ave is better for people with curvier shapes (similar to The Limited’s Drew and Cassidy lines). NY&Co often has great deals on clothing and they usually have a wide selection of pieces.
TJ Maxx for designers. I worked at a Marshall’s for two years, so I know this company’s selection well. At TJ Maxx, I look for Anne Klein, Calvin Klein, Tahari, and Michael Kors pieces. TJ Maxx is where I purchase winter boots, summer party dresses and nicer handbags. (Unfortunately, they never have sales, but they do clearance pieces.)
3. Know HOW to Shop.
This is a tip I wish someone had taught my mother when I was a kid. You don’t have to avoid the mall or nicer stores just because of your budget–you just have to know how to shop, and when. For example, Payless recently had a BOGO sale. I bought a pair of black flats, nude pumps, black wedges, and a fun, cobalt blue summer bag for under $70–many people spend that much on just ONE pair of shoes or a bag!
Another great store for sales is New York and Company. Almost every week, NY&Co has a “special” sale. The sale is typically $60 off $150 or (the best) $100 off $200. All you need is a coupon code you get online. (By the way, retailmenot.com should become your best friend. You can type anything from “Pizza Hut coupon code” to “New York and Company coupon code” and find great deals, sales, and coupons.) A couple of months ago, for example, I shopped online and nyandcompany.com and got five work dresses and a skirt for less than $140! If you’re like me and live in summer dresses, this is a great way to do business. Also, they have a good selection of basic (and some not so basic) pants and jackets as suit separates that are also part of these sales.
These are some of the things I have gotten from NY&Co:
Other stores that have sales and coupons like this include: Ann Taylor LOFT (sometimes), The Limited, and Old Navy/the Gap.
I didn’t realize how much I had to say on this topic, so I’m going to make it a summer series–I’ll finish part 2 for feminine clothes next week, then move on to more masculine clothing stores.