Affordable, But Make It Fashion: 5 Ways to Be Stylish on a Budget

Feeling stuck in a style rut? It happens to the best of us. Whether you’re scrolling through your Instagram feed, browsing Pinterest or thumbing through the latest issue of your go-to fashion magazine, you’ve likely felt the sudden impulse for a total wardrobe overhaul in pursuit of achieving the chic and trendy looks your favorite celebs and influencers are flaunting. 

But is it possible to build your dream closet without blowing your budget? Absolutely. It just takes some savvy shopping, creative styling and a little inspiration. Before you know it, you’ll have your own line-up of affordable and fashionable looks you can’t wait to showcase on social media.

1. Invest in Versatile Pieces

Dressing on a dime without sacrificing style calls for a strategic mix of old and new—purchasing a few brand-new pieces to pair with the tried and true essentials you already own. So, what exactly should you be looking for when shopping for wardrobe additions on a budget? It’s all about versatility. Your buzzword when it comes to affordable and long-lasting style, versatility is what allows you to feel good about splurging on few great pieces instead of spending all your money on items you’ll wear once or twice before relegating them to the back of your closet. 

Essentially, you’ll want to work toward building a capsule wardrobe, or a wardrobe assembled from versatile and interchangeable pieces that come together in polished outfits for every season. While pre-selected, ready-to-wear outfits may sound like the antithesis of on-trend fashion at first, crafting a closet of cohesive and timeless looks that match your personal style will leave room for you to layer in new pieces and accessories as fashion’s fads and crazes come and go. 

Plus, you’ll save money in the long run by having an arsenal of perennial pieces that never go out of style. Invest in versatile pieces like classic and comfortable tees that you can layer under jackets, tuck into shorts or pair with your favorite jeans for endless looks that you can easily update to match the latest trends.  

2. Learn How to Dress Up and Dress Down Pieces 

Speaking of versatility, another necessary skill for achieving affordable style is mastering the art of dressing pieces up or down to make them work for any occasion. Once you’ve compiled a wardrobe of classic pieces, take some time to play around with ways to style them for different settings and seasons. If you can make just one item of clothing work for the office, brunch and happy hour, you’ll save a pretty penny on one outfit essential doing the job of three. 

Take the quintessential and always in-style little black dress, for example, and brainstorm the endless styling options that will make this classic silhouette work almost anywhere. Slip on a pair of sleek stilettos to make this piece perfect for a date night look, or layer on a lightweight blazer to polish up this wardrobe staple for the workday. Spend some time experimenting with outfit combinations to dress up and down your go-to garments, and expand your closet’s style potential without the price tag. 

3. Style Old Pieces in New Ways 

While the occasional splurge on a new outfit or accessory is one way to make your look feel fresh, another thriftier way to update your style is by finding new ways to wear the things you already own. Simple styling tricks like cuffing the sleeves on a short sleeve shirt or tucking a breezy blouse into jeans can effortlessly make a piece you’ve owned forever feel brand-new. 

Or, consider taking the concert tee lost at the bottom of your dresser drawer and reviving it by pairing it with a denim jacket for a casual, but still fashionable look. If you’re really feeling creative, embrace your DIY side by sewing on patches or even hand-embroidering designs onto an old pair of jeans. You’ll achieve the high-end look of designer denim while having a one-of-a-kind piece you created for a minuscule fraction of the price. 

4. Shop for Accessories to Embellish Any Outfit 

Accessorizing can be an affordable way to add trendy details to any outfit, and the best part is that you can wear most adornments year-round. You can add a splash of color to a classic combo of jeans and a tee by sporting a pair of statement earrings or layer delicate gold necklaces to elevate a simple t-shirt dress.

Your accessory arsenal isn’t limited to jewelry. Dress up your tresses and embrace the buzzworthy hair accessories trend that’s bringing barrettes back into style. Try sweeping back your locks with a pearl-studded or tortoise-shell printed hair clip to add instant flair to an everyday look. 

5. Don’t Discount the Sale Rack

Scoping out sales may seem like an obvious first step when you’re shopping on a budget, but people may often stroll right past the sale rack or scroll past online discounts in favor of the brand-new (a.k.a. full-price) merchandise. 

Why are we so quick to dismiss a deal? One reason might be that the items on sale are typically no longer in season, but just because it’s the summer now doesn’t mean you shouldn’t scoop up that half-price sweater to wear next season. Especially when it comes to timeless basics like jeans, cardigans and LBDs—you can stock up on these wardrobe essentials when they go on sale knowing they won’t go out of style. 

To make sure you never miss a deal from your favorite retailer, be sure to sign up for email updates to get notified with the latest sales, and you may even get rewarded with a discount code when you enroll. 

Break Out of Your Style Rut, Without Breaking the Bank

The ultimate takeaway from this rundown on affordable fashion is that a stylish wardrobe is well within your reach. Strategically curate your closet with these money-saving tips and you’ll be creating chic everyday looks in no time.