Creating Smart Outfits on a Small Budget

 We see them spread across glossy pages of magazines, television shows, and movies. Fashionistas pervade stylish elegance into our everyday life, effortlessly executing trends and appearing polished. Some of us aren’t as fortunate. With demanding work and school schedules and the income of Popeye rather than Penelope, looking chic may seem to require more brainpower than studying. But it simply demands a true mastery of fashion —how to find your personal style without becoming a fashion victim.

Sacrifice sleep for poise

The pressing minutes spent staring at your wardrobe, debating whether you should hop back in bed, forfeiting a put-together outfit for the extra sleep or gather the energy to appear collected when your schedule is everything but determines your day. Opt to limit Juicy velour sweat suits to once a week, preferably for casual Fridays. Though comfy pieces seem desirable, they aren’t that practical. Employers, professors, and advisors may deem you a slob, misperceiving your professionalism.

The smart outfit

For those mornings when you forego pajama-like ensembles, put together a smart outfit. A smart outfit is not composed of all things new. A smart outfit combines stylish elements of trendy and classic pieces. Adding trendy accessories to an otherwise outmoded ensemble is key. For example: Take a pair of blue jeans, a solid T-shirt, and a blazer (or equally standard jacket). This is somewhat dull, but embracing a current handbag, scarf, or shoes will project an updated style. How do you afford to buy these new trends? Easy.

Trading companies equal cash flow

Most towns have clothing-exchange retail shops, such as Crossroads Trading Company and Buffalo Exchange. These stores buy your tasteful, fashion-forward items that you feel ready to recycle to someone else's closet, so you can earn money to buy smart outfits. Before you go: grab a shopping bag and lay out all pieces of clothing you haven't worn for more than a year. Salvage some self-control; refrain from selling valued items, such as the cashmere sweater your grandmother gave you. Contemplate which pieces you deem wardrobe-dispensable. Stale-trend items, such as gauchos, flare jeans, and long skirts, are smart to shed because it will take years for those styles to reach stores again.

Buying with a brain

Expanding your wardrobe on a tight budget forces you to think critically. Look in your closet. Several purchases probably represent a difficult breakup or a sale item: impulsive and regrettable. If you wouldn’t buy it at regular price, shove it back on the rack. A tight wallet cannot afford whimsical indulgences. In a store, ask yourself these simple questions: Is the garment advancing my wardrobe? Will I wear this once and then regret having bought it? Is it an overdone trend?

Never buy anything, whether at a boutique or department chain, if the clothing does not modernize your wardrobe. With every piece you buy, you should have the ability to brainstorm at least three potential outfits. For example, refrain from buying a piece of clothing you already have several of such as a simple T-shirt. Buy pieces that are practical but fun. Instead of choosing the plain tee, opt for one with vibrant colors and prints, something you could add to your wardrobe.

Discount retailers

Fashionistas often overlook discount retailers, such as Target for up-to-date looks. Top-dollar designers Alice McCall, Tina Kalivas and Proenza Schouler all construct runway creations for Target—yes, Target! And H&M, the European budget-friendly fashion giant with locations in nearly 30 different countries, offers each element of an in-vogue closet—women and men's clothing, lingerie, jewelry, handbags, and accessories. Celebrated industry professionals have also teamed with the trendy chain. Madonna created the new M by Madonna fashion line last month. And stylish counterparts Karl Lagerfeld, Stella McCartney, and Viktor & Rolf have also crafted collections for the retailer.

Learn to "say no"

A big dilemma young fashionistas face, however, arises while selecting those trendy wardrobe pieces from discount retailers. Often discount-fashion chains, H&M included, appear cheap because well, their clothes are cheap, but cute, which is why you must choose wisely. Steer clear of polyester pieces and those you could find at another store. Never pair more than one piece from Forever 21, Target, or H&M together. Anything more will scream the store's identity, and you don’t want that.

Trends are not your friend

Wear trends sparingly, meaning refrain from dressing head-to-toe in fashion magazines' monthly features. Incorporate classic pieces—solid T-shirts, flats, denim jeans— into your wardrobe. Be a trendsetter, not a victim. Current trends tend to dominate a fashion consciousness. In a single outfit, combine at most one or two trends. For example, do not try to incorporate a baby doll dress, tights, an anorak jacket, and ankle boots in a single outfit. You will look desperate to follow anything but your own style. Above all: Stay true your individual style.

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