I’m being honest with you today, dear readers, when I tell you this post was inspired by a recent article, The Fashionably Broke Bloggers on How to Score a Deal in District, I came across in the Washingtonian. The article sparked my fancy but unfortunately I was left pretty disappointed. While these gals have beautiful and unique style, I can tell you that their idea of a deal was miles away from my minuscule millennial budget. And quite frankly, I was a little put off at the idea of living above my means to be considered “fashionable.”
I think you can develop and stick to a tight budget but still fulfill your retail therapy needs. Here are some tips I live by:
Set a monthly budget and hold yourself to it. Each of us will have a different amount we want to stick around when talking about our clothing allowance each month. I try to spend no more than $40.00 a month – that equals out to $480.00 a year. I sometimes give myself a little bonus of $20 to $50 around holidays and my birthday but for the most part, I stay well within this goal. Now, for a normal (non-Goodwill shopping) person, that seems like a drop in the bucket for what you’d need to have a satisfied wardrobe. Living within this budget, I have a surplus of clothes, actually! I donate clothes back to Goodwill at least once a month while working within these means.
Practice the 70/30 rule. You closet should be mostly meat and potatoes; what I mean here is that you should have more basics than wild pieces. A lot people who shop in second hand stores breeze past the basics in search of unique, abstract or vintage items. Give the basics a chance at Goodwill. The numbers don’t lie here:

  • Women’s Plain Tanks: $1.98
  • Women’s Blouses: $4.98
  • Women’s Jeans: $6.98
  • Women’s Skirts: $5.98

Even at the cheapest retail department stores, you can’t find prices like that. And besides, none of us want to condone the whole fast fashion concept. By using Goodwill to stock your basics, you will save hundreds of dollars. An example? My favorite brand of denim is BDG; it is sold at Urban Outfitters for $50 – $90. I have four pairs, all from Goodwill. A little math tells me that my entire collection of their jeans costs less than one pair sold brand new.
Instead of binge spending, use your resources. If you had a hard day and just want to run by the mall after work to relieve some stress, just don’t! It takes a lot of self-discipline to maintain a budget and one stressful day can ruin your hard work. Instead, channel your urge to buy into an urge to style. I like to go onto Polyvore and start creating inspiration boards incorporating unworn pieces in my closet. From there, I start to dream up new outfits using what I have. It’s free and I’ve found it quells my burning need to buy. But – I can’t be strong every time (I’m only human!). When I get that burn, I pencil out an hour or so to visit Goodwill and if I’ve come close to my budget that month, I try to plan it for a Tuesday. That’s Customer Appreciation Day which means you get 25% off all donated goods! So that $6.98 pair of jeans actually only cost you $5.24. I also turn to other bloggers and sites like Pinterest to try and stretch what I have. It becomes a game for me so it doesn’t feel restrictive, in fact, it feels rather refreshing most days. There are so many great ideas out there!
Take pride in saving. My last piece of advice and arguably most valuable is to take pride in saving money. Don’t let anyone – and I mean anyone – make you feel inferior for not choosing to shop at a certain place or wear a certain brand. Even if you can afford those big name stores in the mall, why not cut your clothing budget in half by shopping at Goodwill and put that money saved away for a nice vacation?

My life motto ;-)

My life motto 😉

Flaunting your material assets is NOT in. Currently trending? Shopping sensibly and looking fly on dime; that means run, don’t walk to your nearest Goodwill!
Champagne taste on a beer budget. That about sums up my life as a twenty-something thus far.

If you had only $20.00 – what could you pull together to make a stylish look from Goodwill? I want to challenge you! Dear readers, if you think you have what it takes to make a budget look fly, email me at fashion@dcgoodwill.org. I’ll share the deets on the $20.00 Goodwill Challenge!