Dress For Le$$

Some of us love to shop and others just do not care to do it, but we all have to wear clothes. Why not look great without breaking the bank? Dressing for Le$$ has been part of my lifestyle for more than forty years and now it is mandatory on my retired budget. Somewhere in my single Mom life I learned this important skill. Yes, it is a skill that has to be learned. Don't let anybody tell you different. I can proudly report that I have never in my life, purchased any expensive clothes at full price. I am considered to be a thrifty shopper but I do not shop thrift stores. I love a great buy and I really don't care where the goods come from, as long as they are of good quality. And not even the inexpensive clothes are purchased at full or original prices. Deep discounts plus a coupon gives me Joy and the item finds a spot in my closet.

There are so many places to shop for clothes of all styles. Online shopping has great deals for people who know their sizes, and it works out most of the time. But by the time you pay shipping, realize something doesn’t fit and then pay to have the items returned, it's not as inexpensive as you think.  I do not shop online because I like to feel my fabrics and try on before I buy. Instant gratification is my thing, and nothing beats walking to my car with items I love that costs Le$$. You can also shop at a Swap Party. My friends and I have a swap party often and there is no better way to shop til you drop, with NO money while sipping on rum punch.  Shopping with friends who have similar interests is always a good thing and two or more set of eyes can see any flaws.

Loving to shop is one thing.

Loving to shop because it makes you feel better about yourself is another!


The only bad thing about stylin' & profilin' is having a limit, on how much you can spend on everything you want or need. And, you gotta look Stylish & Chic to boot.  Thanks to the large numbers of fashion bloggers who keep showcasing expensive pieces of clothing, women around the world get overwhelmed by the necessity of buying expensive clothing in order to look great. It’s true that a designer piece can make you look amazing, but so can a stylish piece at the right price. According to my sista Nerline "Having confidence in yourself doesn’t cost a thing, but you look like you’re rich when you have it".  Even the British Royals wear inexpensive clothes at times, so why not you. If you had a $100 a month to spend on clothes, would you shop for several items at Target or one lovely sweater from Nordstrom? Not many would. I love to browse Nordstrom's, take a photo of items I like, just to look for a similar less expensive item elsewhere. Does anyone else do this?  A $10 skirt from Forever21 can end up looking better than a $300 skirt from a designer with just a couple of quick stitches according to Charles. If the fit isn't spot-on right off the rack, a tailor can be your best friend.

This top & pants is less than $27

We know, it’s exciting to buy things pre-season. When it’s cold outside, that lightweight sundress makes you feel like spring is right around the corner. But if you’re buying in anticipation of what’s next, you’re paying the maximum retail price. My key to shopping for less is to shop season ending sales.  When the new Spring & Summer items are featured in the stores, I get all Goo Goo over them and check to see if my size is available for a try-on. If I love a piece, then a dressing room Selfi soothes the soul and I play the waiting game. The wallet only comes out when the item is reduced. End of September is the best time to purchase beachwear, summer dresses and tops. Shoes and handbags are on sale all the time, you just have to catch them at the right price.  TJ Maxx and Marshalls are my spot for handbags and they have markdowns all the time. My favorite places right now to shop for clothes are: JC Penney, Stein Mart, Macys Last Act & Target.  When the mailman deliver my coupons or an alert on my cellphone, I take full advantage.  Since we live in a sub-tropical climate we do not need expensive winter wear and that is great for my shopping dollars.

High-low is all the rage, but most people are spending too much on the high street merchandise. You should not spend $250 on a pair of leather pumps that you could get for $40 elsewhere. Both will wear out before you are ready to throw them to the side, and it is doubtful that anyone can tell the difference.  Bad construction and workmanship can make clothing at any price point look cheap. Whether you’re buying on a dime or have some serious cash to blow, always check the buttons, seams and zippers, as well as how prints line up, before tossing an item into your shopping bag. If you have the time and can fix it, get it. If not, take a pass.  This is not saying that you shouldn’t treat yourself to a nice designer handbag, or a dress for special occasions. You just don’t have to resort to spending too much money when you can look great for less, and there are ways to stretch your dollar:

  • Buy what you Love, not what you want!
  • Sign up for sale alerts from your favorite stores.
  • Get your friends together and have a Swap Party.
  • Know the store's return policy & keep your receipts.
  • Fabric selection is key. Tweed, cotton, and linen often look expensive even if they’re not.
  • Be selective.  A winter coat is not a good buy if you live in Key West.
  • Take advantage of in-store coupons/discounts. (JCP has a 50% off reduced price sale twice a year).
  • Target Cartwheel offers of 20% off on clothing happens often.
  • Shop end of season Sales. You will be glad you waited for that swimsuit.
MK Skirt for $5.00 purchased Last Fall
  • Shop without time restriction & work the clearance racks like a hunting dog.
  • Get a great fitting coat/blazer of wrinkle free material, just replace the cheap buttons to make it upscale.
  • When picking out a handbag, buy a quality multi-seasonal piece. Good leather is hard to beat.
  • If you’re purchasing lower-priced pumps, opt for faux suede rather than faux leather.
  • Preview the new season hot picks, try on what you like & watch the sales.
  • Iron your clothes before you hang them. Wrinkles can even make expensive clothes look cheap.
  • Find an inexpensive dry cleaner in your neighborhood.
  • Keep the tags on until you are ready to wear it, just in case you have buyers remorse.
  • If you have clothes that you love but can't fit now, get them tailored.
  • Classic black always look more expensive and can hide the signs of a budget piece.
  • Learn how to sew.  Even if you can't make a dress, a needle & thread can work wonders on an outfit.
Top was $16.99. Jeans are a DIY Fringe.

With so many options comes great responsibility and you should pay attention to details. My number two concern after cost is the quality of the fabric, especially if it is leather or faux fur. While it’s rare to go wrong with cotton, silk or other similar fabrics, there are some poly blends that just do not launder well. The care tag is my number three concern, when looking to buy a discounted piece.  If the garment must be dry cleaned only, I would have to give it the side eye.  Is it worth the cleaning bill?  To tell the truth, I do dry clean my delicate pieces, because I want them to last long without tears and pills. Think Quality over Quantity. If you purchase clothes on a budget, just make sure that you get the highest quality clothing you can afford.  And, LOVE wearing it. .

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