Frugal Fashion Tips: Looking Cute on the Cheap.

So, cheap is sort of a strong word for what I’m talking about here.

Because, if I’m honest, I don’t like to skimp on quality when it comes to clothing.

With this body, it’s barely even an option.

One of the things I learned from the style gurus when I was on What NOT to Wear is that looking good is an investment.

Gone are the days when my body could walk into a store and walk out with a pair of $15 jeans and a $5.99 racerback tee and still look fly.

My clothing needs structure.  And durable fabric that won’t stretch.  It has to hold its shape, even when my belly and my love handles, and whatever that stuff is on my thighs, challenge it not to.  It can’t be so thin it’s see through.  And, it can’t expect my body to do what it’s told.  Because my body has become quite the rebellious little renegade.  And it does whatever the hell it wants to, never mind what I say.

With that in mind, looking half way fabulous means I have to take my time when I shop.  I have to make an investment in quality.  I have to live in classics and work in trends when I can.  And, I have to mostly stay the heck away from the junior section and anything sold in Walmart.

My wallet misses those days.

Finding quality clothing options without breaking the bank has become my mission.  For someone who now considers shopping a hobby, it’s sort of also a necessity.

Here are my best frugal fashion tips!

frugal fashion tips

1.  Shop discount stores.  Marshalls, TJ Maxx, and Ross are my besties.  But, admittedly, shopping at those places requires a little extra work.  You have to get past the fact that some of your co-shoppers are probably going to be nuts.  You have to overlook the fact that the store may look more like a flea market than it does a retail location (for some reason, some of these locations are not super well kept).  I guess some people are quite vigorous in their bargain hunting.  And, you have to be prepared to visit often.  Their stock is limited and it changes quickly.  And, no, they don’t have anymore in the back.

2.  Don’t shop at those stores where every thing is always on sale.  You know the ones I’m talking about.  Where they have a shoddily constructed cotton sweater with a celebrity’s name on it showing an original price of $62 and a sale price of $38.  You get tricked into thinking you’re getting a deal when really the sale price is more than it’s even worth most of the time.

3.  Use Ebates.  Cash.  Back.  Shopping.  Is.  What’s.  Up.  It’s almost like someone is actually paying you to buy adorable clothing.  Come.  On.

4.  Get a Target Red Card.  Same thing, only real life.  And, it’s not a credit card.  I mean it is, but it doesn’t have to be.  It took me months to realize that the Target Red Card could actually just be tied to your debit card.  Now I, 5% back every time I shop at Target, which depending on the season, could mean every day of life.

5.  Make eBay your you-know-what.  I sell stuff on eBay constantly (have a super cute romper on there now!).  All of the money I make on selling lightly-worn-still-fly garments there goes back into my make-mommy-feel-pretty fund.  It’s easier than consigning and eBay’s cut is WAY smaller than anything I’ve ever gotten from the consignment shops in our town.

A note about thrift shopping: As cool as it is, I’ve not had much real success with this practice.  We don’t have a bunch of really cool thrift shops around here.  The few we do have aren’t great on pricing.  I’m of the belief that if I am going to buy your dead grandma’s kicks that she could still be haunting, I want them to come at a significant price break.


  1. says

    I have to say, I’m a “thrifter” through and through. I love TJ Maxx and Marshall’s but sometimes the clothes look worse than the ones I find at my consignment and thrift stores. To get the best deals (and the best quality) you have to hit up the big cities. Since you do lots of traveling, you should make time to go to the shops in the cities you visit. Oh, and use online shops like ThredUp! I’ve gotten some beautiful Ann Taylor, Max Azria and Elie Tahari dresses from there for a complete steal.

    I get lots of accessories from eBay and will not go to any other place for them now. I’ve learned all the secrets of getting quality pieces for a dime. Ebay is the shiznit.

  2. says

    I find TJMaxx and Marshall’s are either hit or miss totally for me. I’m a big fan of shopping sales off sales. Like when Banana Republic offers 40% off sale items. I score a lot of great items this way-most at under thrift store prices.

    While we have some decent consignment and thrift stores I find the prices are often too high. If I shop smart I can beat their prices easily.

  3. jessica t says

    Hate the tj maxx near me. Hated Marshals and Ross the last time I went there but admittedly that was years ago. Love target but don’t find much for me anymore, just the kid. Old navy is just eh for me. Can I just send you my size and you shop for me ? I hate it so… :-)

  4. says

    Discount stores are my fave. They’re pretty hit or miss, but when you hit you HIT. Also, I was pleasantly surprised recently when the Marshalls that’s less than five minutes from my house got a major fashion section makeover. Not only are the price pretty, but the layout is pretty too–which makes me about a million times more likely to stay and scour for pieces that work for me.

    Also, Ebates is pretty much the best thing in the history of ever–ESPECIALLY during holiday season. I don’t buy a single thing online without going through Ebates.

  5. Stephanie says

    I find a lot at the Loft outlet. Their quality seems pretty good and I love their clearance! HATE Ross. The stores near me are a disaster. Marshall’s is hit or miss.

  6. says

    I never find anything at Kohl’s so I don’t go. Plus, the closest one to me is kind of a hike so no. And same for thrift stores. I keep asking people which they go to and when they tell me I’m just blank faced because um I’ve gone to that one and either it was funky or the pleather was priced like leather so again, no. I’ve found two really good Marshalls but I ain’t stepping foot in that Ross ever never again. Ev-er. And consignment shops. Um, if I’m going to pay full price I may as well just buy it new from the actual store.

    • DudeMom says

      EXACTLY. It’s the “high end” thrift shops that bug me most. I go in, a leather impersonating jacket is like $175 with some fancy brand on it. Who knows if it came from a corpse or not? I wouldn’t spend $175 on a leather faking jacket straight from Nordstrom’s regardless of whose name is on it. I mean who knows what evil that jacket has seen? Not worth it. Now, if it is a super fly leather wannabe jacket that would only set me back maybe $30, then for sure. Being haunted by Frankenstein’s bride might actually be worth it.

  7. Chris Sheely says

    I see you live in Frederick MD. Take a drive into PA and shop there where there’s no sales tax on clothing. That’s a 6% savings right there. Ditto on shoes. And if you have half a day, drive to the Mechanicsburg/Camp Hill area of PA (maybe 90 minutes north on 15) because we have AMAZING consignment stores with really great stuff! Love your blog!!

  8. Stephanie says

    You really don’t like Kohls? Is that the store that always has a sale? I don’t buy a lot there but I do like their jeans selection! Especially there Sonoma brand!