I love shopping. This is no surprise – I probably wouldn’t be a style blogger if I didn’t. And while I do like certain luxury items (handbags, I’m looking at you), I’m also a pretty SMART shopper, meaning I like to find deals and I have learned how to stretch my money to make the most of it and my wardrobe. Having an enviable closet on a budget takes more than just finding a good sale, it’s about knowing where you can save money on pieces that will last more than one season. Because honestly, if it doesn’t last, it’s not saving you money.
BUT affordability doesn’t always mean you are sacrificing quality. Fast fashion gets a bad rap these days, and in some cases, with very good reason. However, that doesn’t mean that it’s always the enemy. Some of my most loved and well-worn items have come from retailers people consider “fast fashion” and they lasted much better than some more expensive pieces I’ve owned. It’s all about the item itself, not where it came from. I’m not going to get into all the details about what to look for when you are shopping, but I am going to share where I find my stylish and budget-friendly favourites.
Over the years, especially after having a child, I learned how to shop on a budget. Although I do admit that I buy something new (a pair of shoes, a sweater, a statement necklace) on an almost weekly basis, you can bet that with few exceptions, I never spend more than about $50 on most items. Sure, I like shopping, but I’m by no means suggesting that to have a great closet, you have to be shopping ALL THE TIME (in fact, you shouldn’t be – I probably wouldn’t be either, if I wasn’t a blogger!), you just need to shop smart and think creatively.
I have a few favourite places I like to hit up for great pieces that will add versatility to my wardrobe, whether it’s through a fabulous pair of shoes, or wardrobe staples like jeans and tees. Better yet, these are all places where you can stretch your dollar, either by catching a great sale, or simply because the prices are normally affordable. Here is where I find my favourite items on a budget:
The key to a really versatile wardrobe, in my humble opinion, is having a really great shoe collection. Have you ever stopped to think about how much a pair of shoes can change your whole look? Sometimes, all you need to make a tried and true outfit look brand new is swapping out the shoes you normally wear with it for something different and fun. I love having an extensive shoe collection, but having multiple pairs of high heels or wedges sandals can get pricy, unless you know where to find them. For classic pumps and flats, I always look to Zara because they often have perfect shoes at special prices. You can definitely find fancier (and slightly pricier) shoes like this at Zara as well, but my go to pumps and flats (as shown above) were all priced between $25 and $40 each, and with the exception of faux suede, which pretty much NEVER feels like the real thing, the materials definitely do not feel cheap. The best part is that so many of Zara’s shoes are unique and interesting (hello bow flats and bright colours) so they will keep even the most basic outfit from looking boring!
Everyone needs basics. Whether it’s tees or tanks or sweaters, there are a few key items that everyone needs to keep in their closet. I find my favourite basics at H&M, Gap, and Old Navy. H&M consistently has fantastic sweaters that keep me cozy and chic in the winter. Gap tees are soft and offer a perfect fit, whether long or short sleeved, and they offer great summer sundresses, as does Old Navy. Old Navy is also my go-to spot for super cute and affordable pjs, which might just be the best basic of all. Also, all three of these stores consistently have a perfect variety of striped items, whether it’s dresses, boat neck tees or sweaters, and honestly, every good closet needs a few striped items. Stripes are chic and essential – just ask any Parisian.
Here are some of my current top picks from H&M, Gap, and Old Navy:
I do love designer jeans like Current/Elliot, J. Brand, and Hudson, and my budget secret there is to keep your eye out for these items at Winners (Canada), Marshalls and TJ Maxx (US), which usually has a healthy inventory of these brands often at half or more of the regular price! But for day to day jeans, I love American Eagle, Gap, and Hollister (though I am very picky about the pockets, so I often have to say no to Hollister ones that I may love from the front due to the pocket embroidery). If you snag a sale, that’s fantastic, but even if you don’t not one pair at these stores will cost you more than $60 and they last.
Here are my favourite jeans at the moment:
Special Pieces on a Budget
Again, for this one, I turn to Zara. Zara has the most beautiful collection of interesting and unique items, whether it’s a statement coat or a perfect lace dress that will both compliment and stand out in your wardrobe. It’s why Zara continues to be a top favourite of fashion bloggers and social media mavens like Garance Doré and why you hear about Katherine, Duchess of Cambridge picking things up at Zara in the High Street of London. The special pieces they produce are so good, no one cares about the price, even if they can afford much more expensive designer items!
The best advice I can offer about any of these retailers is to check their websites regularly for updated products and to browse the trends. When you’re doing that, think about what you already own, about what you need, and soon, items that will compliment your wardrobe or make it stand out even more will pop off the computer screen for you. And when they actually fit into a budget, as with these retailers, you’re gold.
Enjoy the pretty things in life,