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How to dress well on a budget? | Definite Guide for 2019


Posted by Amy T. on

Clothes shopping is something that some people enjoy while others despise it.

I have listed 13 different ways to help you save money if you are limited on funds and don't know how to revive your wardrobe for free.

Use your garments several ways:

Mix and match your tops and pants to create a variety of looks, casual or sophisticated. 

Turn a long maxi skirt into a strapless dress. Slide a strapless top down to your mid-waist and wear a top over it, this creates the length to help cover your bottom. No-One will know! Layer your clothing Use a belt to cinch in the waist on those baggy tops or dresses.


This will minimize the need to buy more clothing and help revive some of your older garments.

  • Second Hand Store
  • Cheap clothing
  • Designer Labels
  • Good Quality
  • Supporting a good cause
  • More bang for buck
  • Wide range

It may take some shopping around for the perfect Op-Shop but when you do, you will be amazed. They aren't always full of damaged, outdated and smelly clothes.

You can even drop off some of your unwanted clothing while you are there.

  • Shopping the Sales
  • You save money
  • Shop ahead for next year’s seasons
  • More items for the same budget
  • Plan ahead for upcoming events

Do some research prior to bringing out the wallet. Is the great deal you’re getting a significant one? Shopping the sales means that you won't have to pay full price for your clothes but ensure that the quality and service you will receive are equally as good as the price

Clothing Swap

Organize a group of your friends to bring a set amount of unwanted clothes to your house. Provide some bubbles and snacks Try on each other’s clothes and keep what you like. Have some guidelines around how many items to bring and leave with the same amount. Try and have even numbers when it comes to the sizes of your friends. There is nothing worse than being plus size and having no-one to borrow clothes from. Play Dress-up, have fun and bond!

This is a great opportunity to renew your wardrobe, help style your friends and have a good time. You could even turn it into a night out on the town with your new outfits!

Seasonal Sorting

Empty every drawer and wardrobe full of clothing onto your bed Sort them into four categories, Summer, Winter, Autumn and Spring Pack three away in separate storage containers or suitcases leaving the current season out. Organize the remaining pile into trousers, dresses, tops, Jersey's, singlets and pajamas. Take note of what you are short on, in excess of and needs replacing

This is a great way to observe what your actual needs are and shop accordingly.

Each change of season, pack away the current one and bring out the appropriate one and assess your needs again. You may even find it to be like Christmas with a whole new wardrobe to wear!


Repair what you can for worn out in seams of Jeans in the thigh area, use a different fabric and wrap around the thigh or down the entire length of the leg to create a new style. Increase the length of your tops by creating a layering look. Take a plain singlet and cut the straps off, creating a straight top edge and sew into the Top at the right height to give the extra length required. Using ripped and worn out clothing to repair or rejuvenate other items in your wardrobe and the best bit is that they will be one of a kind.


Some sewing skills are required but simple steps to bring new life to your clothes can save you having to buy a brand-new item.

Quality over Quantity

Spend a little more money on better quality clothing to ensure a longer shelf life. Research fabrics and read care labels to maximize the use of your clothes. Avoid stores that buy clothing in bulk amounts as this usually means that they are cheaper to import and therefore may not be manufactured in ethical circumstances. Cheap clothing doesn't always mean a bargain.

By spending more money on quality clothing, you will not need to spend money as frequently, saving you money in the long run. The saying, you get what you pay for is applicable here. 

Try before you buy

Try your clothes on in store. Take a friend who will give you honest feedback. Wear your best bra, and the shoes you are likely to wear with the item you are trying on. Shop around as sizes differ across stores. Experiment with clothing outside of your comfort zone.


As awkward and stressful it may be, trying the clothes on before you commit to the purchase is a sure-fire way to determine if the clothes are going to be a good investment. I am sure many of us have either bought something only to discover that it doesn't fit or doesn't look right and have either filed it away in the back of the wardrobe or returned it to the store. Don't waste your money on something that you don't intend to wear. If you're expecting a baby, you'll need maternity dress. In that case, you should try this beautiful purple pregnancy dress.

Strategic Shopping Spree

Save a large amount of money strictly for clothes shopping. Shop each season and aim for big sales e.g. Boxing day Get the girls together and make a day of it. Buy end of lines and season stock. Take a list of needs and wants

Most women enjoy shopping and the more money you have, the less stressful it can be. Make it an annual thing to do with your sister or best friend, offer guidance and ask for the same in return. Make sure to stop for coffee and lunch to re-group.

Personal Stylist or Shopper

Enlist a Personal shopper who can help with your purchase decisions. Make sure they know your budget range. Explore different shops that you may not have considered. Get a professional Bra fitting from a Lingerie specialist. Get honest feedback tailored to your needs.


Hiring a Personal Stylist or Shopper doesn't have to be a costly business especially when they are able to help you save money.

Write Lists

Write a list of everything you are in NEED of prior to hitting the stores. Research the stores you plan on shopping at to make sure they have the items you are needing and at a reasonable price. Beside each item, set a maximum price you are willing to spend on each item and don't exceed that amount. Order your Needs list by priority. Below the Needs list, write a WANT list and do the same process as above. In store, stick to your list and set prices and shop starting at the top of your list.

It always pays to be fully informed before hitting the shops as you can often get fuzzy when not having a goal in the middle of a shop. By sticking to your list, you not only get what you need and want, but you also don't over spend. Any savings that you may make, can be filtered down the list.

Spring Cleaning

Just like the Seasonal sorting, empty all of your clothes onto your bed, pick up each item one at a time and answer the following questions:

When did I last wear this?
Do I fit this?
Do I like it?
Will I wear it in the next 3 months?

Filter out the things you say no to at least twice. Keep things that you intend on wearing in the next 3 months. Only keep the clothing that does not currently fit you IF you are actively taking steps to lose weight. Be honest with yourself.

This is a great way to narrow down what you actually own and clear out the clothes that are taking up space. If you’re like me, you may even find something you forgot you even owned! 


Shop for clothes that you can wear more than once. Aim for clothing that can be dressed up or down depending on the occasion. Buy clothing that you can pair up with something from your existing wardrobe.

Don't make purchases based solely on price or appearance. Make sure that you are able to get your money’s worth out of a garment, and that it isn't going to be sitting at the back of your wardrobe only to be brought out once in a blue moon. 

Be fully informed on your choices, don't settle for less than you deserve.

Go out, be confident and try new things. Money is just a small consideration in something that could be life changing.

You deserve to feel and look amazing. 

Fashion over the last 100 years or so has been constantly changing and in some cases making a comeback.

There was once upon a time, a strict dress code that Women had to follow and you were judged on appearances. Prim and Proper was desired.


Along the way there were notions that you had to have a big this, or the smaller the better that, so when looking at where we are today, it has been a slow process of becoming fully accepting of each other’s difference in regards to styles, shapes and opinions.



  • Boned Corsets and Bodices with long skirts.
  • High neck collars and long sleeves
  • Stiff Fabrics
  • Tailor made travelling suits for Women; however, the males were threatened by this as it questioned their authority.
  • Long Hair wore in Buns on top of the head.
  • Hourglass figure with a tiny waist, big bosoms and full skirt.


  • Creams, Browns and Grey's.

Interesting Facts

  • Narrow feet were considered a sign of good breeding, so women wore shoes that were one size too small and some women even had the little toe removed to allow for narrower shoes.



  • Corsets were no longer in fashion
  • Softer fabrics
  • Skirts began to rise to mid-calf length around 1914
  • More practical for working in.


  • Pastel colors. Towards the end of the decade, colors were becoming darker.

Interesting Facts

  • Audrey Munson became the first actress to be naked on film in 1915. The movie was "Inspiration" where she played a model for a Sculptor.

1920's (My favorite Era)


  • Bob Haircut's
  • Sleeveless dresses
  • Knee Length dresses for Casual Occasions
  • Flapper Dresses for dancing the Charleston
  • T-Strap shoes and High Heels
  • Costume Jewelry and long beaded Necklaces


  • Mostly Neutral. Cream, Black, Navy and Beige

Interesting Fact

  • Coco Chanel's Little Black Dress was invented and has become a staple of every women's wardrobe



  • Hems are back down to floor length
  • Soft, light and Flowing fabrics
  • Big hats, platform and wedge shoes
  • Faux Fur coats
  • Broad shoulder jackets
  • Backless gowns
  • Triangular shapes, wide on the top, narrow on the bottom, Cinched at the waist
  • Feminine but becoming inspired by menswear


  • Pinks, Creams and Blues

Interesting Fact

  • Being tanned was a sign of being lower class so make up was used to lighten and brighten the skin.



  • Fabric shortage led to recycling old clothes into new ones
  • Women took over the Men’s jobs while they we away at war so clothing was becoming gender neutral
  • Masculine suits, Peplum Jackets, Knee length skirts
  • Glamour Pin up dresses
  • Padded shoulder, 3/4 length Jackets


  • Patriotic to the men at war. Browns, Greens, Navy and Grey

Interesting Fact

  • The first Bikini worn in public was released in 1946 and Modelled by Micheline Bernadini



  • Retro Fashion reminiscent of the early 1900's.
  • Bolero's and Capri pants
  • Ballet flats or Stiletto Heels
  • Pencil or Petticoat skirts, cocktail dresses
  • The aim was to enhance the hourglass figure
  • Chanel Suits


  • Pinks, purples and oranges

Interesting Facts

  • Marilyn Monroe's Famous White Dress was from a movie made in 1955 called "The Seven Year Itch"



  • Rise of the Shopping Malls and Fashion Boutiques
  • Experimenting with fashion to find your own identity
  • Jeans, miniskirts, Turtle neck sweaters
  • Wild use of color and patterns
  • Bell shaped sleeves
  • Pill Box Hats and Over-sized Sunglasses
  • Chanel Suits
  • Tie Died


  • Orange, reds, blues, greens, browns.

Interesting Fact

  • The average salary was $4743 which was great for the young Women who helped carve the fashion trends as they were the biggest shoppers.



  • The Disco Era!
  • Bell Bottom Jeans
  • Pant Suits
  • Tank Tops
  • Hot Pants
  • Wrap Dresses


  • A wide range of Bright colors, pastels and neutrals. 

Interesting Facts

  • In 1974 Beverly Johnson became the first ever black model appeared on the cover of Vogue magazine. She then went on to be the first black women to appear on the front cover of Elle magazine. 



  • Punk became a big hit
  • Ripped jeans
  • Sneakers for everyday wear
  • Preppy look
  • Big Hair, shoulder pads
  • Statement jewelry
  • Exercise clothing for street wear
  • Leg Warmers
  • Leggings with oversized jerseys
  • Neon Lycra
  • Ra Ra Skirts


  • Hot Pink, Bright green, yellow blue and orange.

Interesting Fact

  • Mc Hammer pants were actually called Parachute pants. 



  • Crop Tops 
  • Baggy jeans
  • Floral Dresses
  • Palazzo Pants and Overalls
  • Tennis Shoes
  • Brands became more popular than Style e.g. Adidas stripe leggings


  • Anything goes

Interesting Fact

  • In 1995, Casual Friday became a popular trend across the US, where suits were swapped for more comfortable pants and shirts. 



  • Previous decades made brief appearances
  • Bohemian tops, dresses and skirts
  • Peasant tops
  • Camo print
  • Cargo pants


  • Anything goes

Interesting Fact

  • The biggest wardrobe malfunction of this decade would have to be the Nip Slip of the Halftime show involving Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake. Was it just a malfunction or a stunt? We will never know. 

2010 to Now


  • Skinny Jeans
  • Chiffon shirts
  • Hi-lo skirts, dresses and shirts
  • Maxi Dresses
  • Patterned leggings
  • Peplum and Play suits


  • Anything Goes

Interesting Fact

  • Recycled clothes are making a huge comeback. The record for the most clothing collected for recycling is 117,376 items according to the Guinness World records. 

It is important to remember that while some things may currently be in fashion and others have past their use by date, that creative expression is totally allowed.

If it makes you feel good, look and feel comfortable then there is no reason why you shouldn't wear it.


You should draw your inspiration from the fabrics, colors, and styles that accentuate the art of your body that you are proud of. 

Trends are usually short-lived, so don't spend too much time or money trying to keep up. Work with what you already have to create polished outfits.

If you want to see where I think fashion may be headed, then keep an eye out for the next blog titled - Clothes of the future.

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