Updated: Jan 25
Want to know how to dress cute & stay on a budget? Are you still looking for your personal style?
I've uncovered a few things that have tremendously helped me and would love to share that with YOU!
After entering the beauty industry a decade ago I had this idea of what it meant to look "professional" and if you've ever seen most hairdressers I'm willing to bet they were in all black. My first salon job had a dress code of black, white, and grey and while that makes it somewhat easy when picking out your attire in the morning there are also some days that I just want to have some color or be expressive... I also wake up some days and feel like a color (blog for a different day). For years I fought with the idea of what "professional" looked like and shyed away from incorporating color and expressing myself like the artist I am. The great thing about the beauty industry is it's a really a place where you can be exactly who are, there are no rules and creativity is celebrated. I recently stumbled across a quote that quite literally gave me the verbiage I've been longing for to describe to me what "professional dress" means in our industry...."You should look put together, not pulled together."
I know what you're thinking... I have a corporate job so I could never dress this way or that. I have set uniform so theres no need for me to know how to dress. What about your off time? What about date nights, night out with friends, corporate dinners, etc? But I don't really have the extra money to dress nice... Trust me when I say, I use to think the same things! I made every excuse but deep down I wanted to explore. Let me teach you some things I've learned!
Tip #1 - Clothing does not have a gender
Some of you probably just eye rolled, others get it. Clothing is literally fabric that has been dyed, printed, cut and sewn together in various patterns to create certain silhouettes for different body shapes. Take for example a button down shirt, generally a "women's" button down shirt is going to be more fitted, rounded, or designed to be a flowy fit. A "men's" button down will generally be more squared, not fitted but not too loose either. Now you get it?
Why do I bring up this point? When shopping, don't limit yourself to just 1 section of the store....go explore! Typically how I shop is to go into each section starting with a size larger than what I wear, I look for texture, color, cut and anything that just stands out to me. I will throw anything of interest into the cart and then head to the dressing room. This is where I narrow down selections, select sizes (do I want this particular item loose fitting or fitted).
There are a few examples of different styling with "men's" button down shirts. The first is more of a feminine edge as opposed to the second where there are more masculine elements.
Tip #2 - Shop when you don't NEED something
Let's face it, we've all been in a pinch for an outfit for something particular and had to run around like a chicken with their head cut off at the last damn minute trying to find it. 1 of 3 outcomes probably occured.... A. You found something fitting for the occasion but spent WAY more than necessary B. You couldn't find anything C. You just got lucky.
If you smart shop when you don't necessarily NEED something chances are you'll have it when the occasion arises. What do I mean by "smart shop"? Remember in my tip above I mention throwing everything of interest in your cart... I didn't mention, that the first place you should start is in the markdowns. (Did you forget this was a blog supposed to be designed to keep you fashionable on a budget?)
"Style is a way to say who you are without having to speak." – Rachel Zoe
Tip #3 - Choose a favorite store & frequent it
I have a favorite store that I love to shop at, Bealls/Burkes and can almost always find something there and for great prices. I try to go by each week and have learned that they do markdowns on Thursdays & Fridays and also have an additional 10% off on Mondays. Lots of bang for your buck. This is a perk to finding a store you like to shop in, you'll get familiar with their routines, new shipments, markdowns, sales, etc. But regardless where I shop, I try to stick to the tips above, start in markdowns first, start in at least a size larger than I wear and go to all the sections pulling everything that stands out to me in some way into the cart before heading to the dressing room.
When thrifting, everything is a fraction of the original cost already so I immediately start at a size larger. It's hard for me to just thumb through clothing in a thrift store so literally peruse the aisle for any color, fabric, or texture that stands out to me. When reinventing clothes, thrift stores are the way to go. I've bought several pieces that have been purposefully destroyed and made into something new!
Speaking of thrifting, for 2023, it is my goal to do more of that and sustainable fashion instead of always shopping fast fashion. I don't consider myself to be someone that has to stay "on trend", I just wear what feels right to me for that particular day. As we evolve, our interests change, our lifestyle may change and thus our style will change with it. For instance, in 2022 I was all about comfort. Cargo pants for the win!
An example of a thrift find purposefully destroyed. A white blazer that I paired with a floral shirt for an upgrade! I think this may have costed $10 total, I even had the buttons on hand to match the floral print!!!
Tip #4 - Staple Items & Accessories
Staple items are typically versatile and never go out of style. But remember, we all have different styles so your staple pieces might look different than mine! For me, literally anything can be a staple piece and I can modernize around it using other items in my closet, like this shirt for example. It's been in my closet for about 4yrs now and I've worn it so many different ways. Shown are just 2 examples of how you can change the style up. I could also accessorize with a hat which I often do! (These white boots are a staple shoe for me too!)
Speaking of accessories...I'm an earring girl and have an eclectic collection, but don't I care too much for other types of jewelry. You do you and find your own personal style in that way! Other accessories can include but are not limited to shoes, belts, purses, glasses, scarves, pins/brooches, hats, etc. I like to find clothing that has accessories that come with it, like the chain belt with the pink cargo pants pictured.
Use your accessories in ways in which they aren't "intended". For example, I have a plain pink beanie that I have adorned with 2 shiny hair clips. It adds a little flair to the plain beanie. I've put earrings on hats like pins, wrapped a scarf around a hat, worn a scarf as a belt, and so much more. The possibilities are endless.
Tip #5 - It doesn't have to "fit"
Notice how I say I start with a size larger than what I wear? There's a reason. All clothing is cut different and how discouraging is in when you go to your size section and find the perfect article of clothing and you put it on and it's too tight? Cue the negative self talk, right? Wrong, don't do that to yourself. Start a little larger, unless you're shopping in a specific brand store and generally know what size you wear in their particular brand. I like to shop at stores that carry multiple brands so the best rule of thumb is start larger. But what if i find the perfect piece in a larger size and it doesn't fit quite the way I want it? I'm the type that will then reassess, can it be belted or accessorized so that the size doesn't matter? If yes, I'll keep it. If no, then I see if they have it in a smaller size. If they do not, then it wasn't meant to be. Because remember, we're shopping when we don't NEED to!
Fashion & Style is literally what YOU make it.
Find what you like. Follow bloggers, influencers, sites, etc that inspire you to creatively express yourself. Pinterest is a great place to start. Create boards of outfit choices that you like. Really understand what it is that you like about each thing you pin. When you understand the elements of the outfits you like it makes it easier when shopping because you will be looking for items that will fit your personal style without trying to just recreate the look exactly.
When you look good you feel good! The right clothing to fit and express your personality will make you feel like a million bucks, walk with confidence, and boost self esteem.
If you're someone who has just started exploring your gender expression dressing rooms, department stores, and stuff can be scary and all the choices can be quite overwhelming. Find a trusted friend or ally and have them come with you for support and help you discover your personal style.
Hopefully this helped you in some way!