I want to look good just as much as anyone else, but I could easily blow my entire paycheck on clothes, bags, jewelry, and makeup. Over time I have developed a sort of frugal fashion philosophy shaped by my own personality and values.
To me, security is more valuable than my outer appearance. I’d rather have money in my emergency fund than the latest high-end, luxury brands, or even knock-offs for that matter.
My first rule of thumb is to avoid paying full retail price for clothing. This is pretty easy, as most department and retail stores have frequent sales, but keep in mind that sale prices can still be overpriced. It helps to shop with a budget to prevent impulse shopping and to avoid buying a ‘good deal’ that really isn’t. If you shop at discount stores like Marshall’s and TJ Maxx, you can find the same clothes for half the price.
If you are not averse to used clothing, consider hand-me-downs or consignment stores. Many of my work clothes were passed down to me from a co-worker’s spouse who works in retail and is required to update her wardrobe as the seasons change. If used clothes fit nicely, appear clean, have no visible stains or tears and no odor, what’s the problem? Reusing and recycling isn’t just for cans and bottles.
Makeup and other name-brand beauty items like shampoo are also unbelievably marked up. Did you know that many drugstore brands are the same products that are sold in department stores, only with different names and packaging, and lower prices? For example, Lancôme and L’Oreal are both owned by the same company, as are Jane and Estee Lauder.
Makeup is tricky though, because not every brand works well with every skin type and coloring. A good way to find out what works for you is to make an appointment at your local department store for a skin and makeup consultation. Ask for samples so you can test out the products without making an expensive commitment right away. Then, once you find what you like, find the equivalent, cheaper brand at the drugstore. There is a ton of information online about comparing products.
One more word about soaps, shampoos and bath products. You’d be surprised the little amount of product you need to get the job done. Just a dab will do. I can afford to splurge occasionally on my favorite body wash because I make it last. Use a washcloth, sponge or soap sack to help keep from wasting product.
Accessories are a weakness for many women. I treat them like fine art: they are to be admired and appreciated, but only bought after careful consideration. Instead of buying cheaper bags and shoes to match every outfit, I pay full price for quality and pick items that go with a majority of my wardrobe. This keeps my closet from overflowing and my bank account from drying up.
As for jewelry, I like to buy one nice piece a year, for my birthday. Most of my rings, bracelets and necklaces (I can no longer wear earrings!) are either gifts or mark significant milestones or events. I like that the jewelry I wear has a story. It makes me more mindful of what I own.
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