How to Look Good on a Budget of $100-a-Month

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As of lately, my fashion obsession has been taking a toll on my bank account.  When the newest designer lookbook arrives in my mailbox every month, it is difficult to not run out to the mall and charge EVERYTHING to my credit card.  The reality is, it’s hard on my bank account, shopping budget, and lifestyle when I am spending above my limit on designer duds. Should I be buying designer clothing season after season and be completely broke? Or can I look amazing on a budget and only spend $100 a month? Have you been wondering how to look good on a budget, too? After testing the method recently, I have found the answer to be YES! YES! YES! –I can look good on a budget!

How to Look Good on a Budget

Follow these tips and you too will notice a true difference in your closet – and your bank account!

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Shopping Budget Tip #1: Sample Sale It!

If you haven’t yet discovered the magical land of sample sales, this MUST be your first stop. For those of you who are out of the loop, a sample sale is a designer sale that is done before these garments are put in designer stores or high end department stores, to test the products.  Even better – these items are ALL 30—80% off! You can easily stay within your monthly shopping budget and purchase an entire outfit. Not only are you getting a fabulous price when you purchase these items, you are ahead of the curve!  And thanks to modern technology, you don’t have to be living in LA or NYC in order to stumble upon one of these treasures. Here are some FABULOUS sample sale websites that you must check out:

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I scored this Tadashi Shoji gown from a sample sale website for $98 (the price tag says $398)!

Shopping Budget Tip #2: Put it in the cart!

This is a little trick that I use whenever my brain says “shop, shop, shop” and my bank account says “broke, broke, broke.” I go online to my favorite retailers, view all the merchandise and put everything in my shopping cart that I would purchase if I had a very large disposable income. Then, over the next couple of months, I check back frequently and look in my virtual cart to see what has gone on sale.  Since there is always new merchandise arriving into stores at any given time,  it usually doesn’t take long before your coveted items start coming down in price. Hint: Amazon is a great place to do this, as prices are literally changing daily! 

Shopping Budget Tip #3: Window shop – then shop somewhere else!

It’s great to turn to your favorite designers each season to inspire your wardrobe, but it can get pricy to buy all of the garments and accessories that they use to put looks together. Therefore, I highly suggest going into designer stores, using their window displays as inspiration, and then head to a much less expensive store to find similar items. Designers spend millions of dollars every year hiring stylists and visual merchandisers to put together their desirable looks, so you might as well use their ideas to your advantage!

Shopping Budget Tip #4: Jewelry Mania!

Jewelry is one of those miraculous components that can completely transform an entire outfit without changing much at all. I’m not talking about going to Tiffany’s, my lovely readers!  (unless you really want to) Just visit your local Forever 21 , H &M, or local consignment/vintage shops jewelry departments to buy some trendy yet current jewels to enhance your look. Not sure how to keep all your jewelry organized? CLICK for my guide!

Shopping Budget Tip #5: Treasure Hunt!

Remember how much fun it was to go on treasure hunts as a child? Make those memories a reality by going to your favorite thrift or resale store with some gal pals to see who can find the best loot, for the least amount of money! You never know what you are going to stumble upon!  It’s so true that one person’s garbage can be another person’s treasure.  Especially if you can find a second-hand store where well-heeled fashionistas with high disposable incomes purge their walk-in closets!

Shopping Budget Tip #6: Do the math…

Every Fashionista needs to take some time to learn about quality control. In fact, this might just be the most important advice of all when asked how to look good on a budget. When you are out shopping, take a look at more than just the outer shell of a piece of clothing.  Here’s what you need to do:

  • Take some time to turn it inside out and examine the way that it is constructed.
  • Is the fabric of good quality?
  • Is it lined when appropriate?
  • Can the hem be taken up or down?
  • Is the plaid matched? Is it cut on the bias, which means it can stretch in often unfortunate ways?

This process will help you figure out how long this garment is going to last you. If you are in a cheap retail store in need of a basic pair of black pants for work and they are offering them for $25, take a closer look.  Items like black pants are a staple item in your wardrobe that you wear frequently, and you will want them to last a long time. If the pants are poorly constructed, then sacrifice that month and use the entire $100 budget on a better quality pair of pants that you won’t have to replace as soon.  Pull out your calculator if necessary and do the math! You will end up saving yourself money in the long run.

Make a list of the clothing that you need for the upcoming season and figure out what works best with your $100 monthly shopping budget in order be able to add those pieces to your wardrobe.  (Ahem, try building a capsule wardrobe.) Focus on items that look great with pieces you currently love and wear, or find something to go with terrific items you can’t wear because you don’t have the right item to coordinate with it.  Also consider adding a splashy item that will bring your wardrobe up to date with the current trends. Still asking how to look good on a budget? Check out my post that guides you through actually shopping in your own closet – for real!

Once you make your list, try to stick to it.  If you are shopping specifically for a basic brown shell to go under that beautiful taupe cashmere sweater you bought last month, try to avoid being distracted. And if you resist that uber-trendy necklace today, you can add your current month’s budget to next month’s and have more buying power to show for your will power! Of course, fabulous items can turn your head, but try to restrain yourself, unless it is something on your wishlist.  (Realistically speaking, we are of course fashion-obsessionistas, so restraint can only be effective if you allow yourself to follow an irresistible impulse every now and then!  And don’t forget a well-deserved reward for yourself from time to time as well.  Kind of similar to kids and toys, right?)

Shopping Budget Tip #7: Shop My Favorite Inexpensive Fashion Finds

In the end, it’s all about having a budget and a plan, knowing how to look good on a budget is key and doable! By following these simple concepts, every woman can “work it” while making it work!

Fashionably Yours,


P.S. If you enjoyed this post, you will love: How to Go Shopping in Your Own Closet!


  1. lorraine somma says:

    Great tips! I never heard of sample sales before. I love all your wonderful suggestions.

  2. Awesome tips – I especially like the ‘do the math’ section. I always buy discounted clothing, vintage or use incentives with cash back and there are sites where you can sign up and then shop normally at well known brand sites and earn points/credit to spend later.

  3. Good tips – I love personally!

  4. I never thought to use those sample sale websites! Such a great idea. I’ll have to start checking those out when I have the itch for new clothes!

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