• Chantal Porter

How To Look Fabulous On A Budget

Updated: Aug 26, 2019

Diamonds may be a girl’s best friend, but gorgeous shoes and the perfect outfit are both great confidants too! We all know that great feeling we get when our outfit is on point, our hair is well done, and our body-ody-ody is quite alright. We can just about walk on water and conquer the whole world!

Everybody deserves to feel like that every single day, but alas...this adulting thing has us bent in all sorts of shapes and our budget doesn’t allow us to live the dream. So how do you get to have it all? How do you find a way to look fabulous on a budget without compromising your style?

Sales and alterations

I’ve observed that items on a sale rack run in one of two categories: either the items are super small or too large. Gorgeous dresses, trousers and blouses that are too large are great investments. With a few alteratons, you can recreate the look that you want and it doesn’t have to cost you limbs. Some alterations you may be able to make on your own, others may require a seamstress. In the long run, an alteration is generally much cheaper than buying the item at it’s actual retail price, in your correct size. Trust me, with the right needle work, nobody will know the difference.

Work with your body type

Fashion gurus can’t stress this enough and I am minded to agree. Few things cheapen a look like wearing an outfit that is unflattering. A quick internet search can give you guidance as to what your actual body type is and the most flattering ways to dress that body up. There’s a misunderstanding among people when they hear “dress for your body type”. Some tend to think “oh that’s for big girls”, no boo boo that is not at all true. In the same way that an eyebrow arch is dictated by face shapes of all sizes, all bodies fit into a “type”.

Necklines, hemlines, waistlines, size, construction, material and texture are all things to consider. Peplum tops are great if you want to hide a pooch, flared skirts are awesome if you want to create an illusion of wider hips. Remember, we’re aiming for fabulous on a budget, not just clothed on a budget.

For sale

One way to look fabulous on a budget is to increase your budget (yes I know, I’m cheating here. Just go with it). There are several online platforms that facilitate the sale of used clothes, provided that they’re in good condition. There are local physical store options, charity shops and a random front yard that can facilitate a great yard sale. Selling your items that you probably have not worn in a very long time or that you’ve only ever worn once or that doesn’t fit anymore, can get you a bit more funds to contribute towards redoing your wardrobe.

For trade

Trading clothes is also a great option to keep in mind. If you’ve got friends who shares your style and your size, then grab some snacks, turn on some music and host a trading party. It’ll be like a clearance sale, except the bargaining chips are great outfits.

Smart shoes

When we scan someone’s outfit the last thing we usually see is their shoes. This leaves a lasting impression on our mind. Dirty, ugly shoes can wreck an entire outfit. Investing in shoes that can go with multiple outfits and still look classy is a great way to go.

Men’s wear is sometimes cheaper

As annoying as this is, it’s true. There are some staple basics that we can pick up in the men’s section (and their stuff comes in packs alot of the time). A pack of T-shirts can give you multiple camisoles and under blouses. If you buy an oversized shirt from the big and tall section, you can take that to a seamstress and come out with a gorgeous dress. Throw in some accessories, some great shoes, a nice bag and some makeup and you can go back to gliding on water.

Mend and launder

It’s very important to handle with care, the items that you already own. A ripped hemline or torn armhole are major subtractions from any outfit. Taking care while laundering is also important. Getting bleach on coloured clothes or mixing whites with coloreds can ruin your closet in no time. A needle kit and good laundry practices can help you keep your closet looking fresh and keep you looking great.


These can take an outfit from a six to a ten. Chains, rings, bangles, hats, sunglasses, bags, purses, watches, whatever you’ve got. Pairing them with the right outfit can give you a fresh-from-the-page look.

Looking fabulous on a budget comes with a certain degree of skill, patience and eye for fashio. Here's how you can look fabulous all day, everyday.

Hair & makeup

How many times have you been wowed by how much tossing your hair to the left instead of the right makes you look like a whole new person? Or how having red streaks instead of plain black/brown hair revolutionizes your outfits?

Hair and makeup can elevate and polish your look. You can either do your nails yourself or get a friend to do it (budget friendly!), drugstore makeup won’t break the bank and you really only need the basics. When we’re dolled up we walk differently, we’re more confident and anything we’re wearing suddenly looks ten times better.

Get in shape

I don’t know about you, but I’ve got a whole section of my closet dedicated to outfits that no longer fit. I remember what it was like when they did and I kept them because I want to wear them again. How many more options would we have if we were able to access that side of our closet again? I’m all for body positivity, don’t read me wrong, but I’m also all about budget sensitivity.

Our passion for fashion is neither shallow nor unimportant. With these tips in mind, I hope you’re able to expand your options and work the runways of your life.

"You can have anything you want in life if you dress for it." —Edith Head

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