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How to Look Fancy on a Budget

How often have you jealously eyed some girl’s expensive looking outfit and pined for the day when you too can afford to hang such pricey pieces in your closet?

Well, let me tell you – today is that day!

I’m not talking about splurging on entirely new duds. I’m talking about choosing key pieces more carefully so that you too can fool anyone into thinking that you paid a lot for your look. I promise – if you follow my shopping guidelines, everyone will be surprised when you tell them how much you actually paid for your snazzy new outfits.


For example, I paid under $100 for all the pieces in this outfit!

So how do you accomplish this feat?

Here’s how:

  • Places to Shop In-Store: Zara, H&M, The Contemporary Collection at Forever 21, Banana RepublicTJ Maxx – All of these stores tend to have unique, excellent quality pieces at affordable prices. I especially love Zara since the tailoring of their clothes is distinctly European, meaning that you can look luxe for less. Banana Republic also has amazing, high quality pieces for a decent price – especially if you’re looking for staples like a cream cardigan, a classic jean, or knit sweaters. Make a b-line for their sale section or factory outlet stores to get the best deals! TJ Maxx is my absolute favorite spot to find quality accessories for less. I can’t tell you how many amazing earrings, necklaces, purses, and shoes I’ve found there! Take a look at a couple of the awesome things I’ve found there in the pics below – the sterling silver ring was $15 and the Perlina leather bag was on clearance for $59! Finally, if you’re going to shop at Forever 21, please only browse their contemporary collection. The pieces in this collection are generally tailored and are made with higher quality materials than just polyester, which, sadly, is what the majority of the rest of the store is made of. 🙁

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  • Places to Shop Online: ASOS, Yoox, Neiman Marcus ASOS is by far the best place to find absolutely anything you’re looking for – plus they have free shipping both ways and runway videoes so you can see how the piece falls on the model. From sunglasses to purses to shoes to dresses, I always search ASOS first if I’m looking for a new staple piece. My only caveat is to always check the material information before purchasing to make sure it’s not polyester or an overly clingy or sheer material. Also be aware that the ASOS brand dresses tend to run a bit, well, see-through. To avoid this, opt for a more substantial brand like Vero Moda or Monki instead! Check out Yoox for an insane collection of top-quality pieces at clearanced prices and don’t forget to stop by Neiman Marcus‘ sale section for gorgeous designer pieces under $100! I actually found this gorgeous leather-sleeved Bagatelle blazer for $50 marked down from its original $188 online at Neiman Marcus! Each of these websites have advanced filters, which means that you can whittle down your search to your size, price range, and preferred material all before hitting the “search” button!


  • Places to Avoid Shopping Altogether: Ross, Charlotte Russe, Just Fab – Rather than naming these specific places, I suppose I could just say to stay away from polyester clothes and faux leather shoes. While every store – especially the regular sections of Forever 21 and H&M – have poorer quality clothes, you can generally avoid the dangers of buying cheaper pieces by ignoring teen-specific sections of stores and by rigorously checking clothing tags and shoe material information. Trust me, if it’s not a real, premium material like knit, leather, suede, or cotton, you’ll get significantly less use out of it. Moreover, cheap materials look cheap on your body by gaping and hanging in ways they shouldn’t – and no one wants to look like a lumpy, dowdy blob!

Finding quality pieces at an affordable price isn’t so tough as long as you know where to look! So no more pinching pennies or wasting money on clothes that won’t last longer than a year without pilling, tearing, or falling apart – check out these stores and luxe out your wardrobe for less this upcoming Fall!

Oh that reminds me that it’s almost sweater season – yays!!

Where do you like to shop?

Want to learn more about how and where I shop?

Drop me a line in the comments section! 🙂


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  • Reply Andrea August 9, 2015 at 7:56 am

    love this shopping guide! I totally agree with you, and need to start changing up my wardrobe a bit!
    I absolutely love Zara and H&M, and been in love with Zara recently ever since I went to Europe and stepped in and saw their amazing clothes… I just wish Zara was as cheap here in the states as it is in Europe! I recently bought a really quality blazer for 50 euro, which is well worth the money! I want to buy more clothes from them! I am finding i need to go thru my clothes soon and get rid of things I wont be wearing – i have a lot of things from when I was in college or a teenage that just doesnt fit me anymore or doesnt go with my style anymore – i want to go for more polished look! I am guilty of shopping at Ross and Charlotte Russe, mainly becuase their clothes are cheap, but I do look for the non-teenager items. Although I do admit their materials arent very quality. I didnt realize the contemporary collection at Forever 21 uses different materials than the rest of the store! Ah amanda this guide is great! I will definitely be using your advice! 😀 take care love! xoxo

    • Amanda
      Reply Amanda August 11, 2015 at 3:00 pm

      Hey, girl! Yeah, it’s taken me years to figure out how to purchase quality pieces on a budget and I’ve recently been weeding out my closet to get rid of some of the cheaper, polyester pieces that I realized weren’t doing me any favors! 😛 I completely agree! I’ve always shopped at Ross because you can find something that works for a night out that doesn’t break the bank. I think when I turned 30 a couple weeks ago it really hit me that I need to start dressing a little smarter – lol! Oooo I love Zara so much! I did my first shopping spree there when I was in Europe too and yes, their pieces were so affordable! There are some exceptions with the quality of Forever 21 Contemporary pieces, but they’re generally made with more premium quality materials, which is awesome when you consider that you’re only paying around $10 more than a cheaper quality piece from a different part of the store. One place you REALLY need to check out is Yoox is you’re looking for quality pieces on a budget! I searched their sale dresses and boots and found two gorgeous pairs of Italian leather boots for $80 and a little black dress for $40! If you ‘share’ their products on social media then you also get a code for free shipping! Yays for bargain shopping! 😀

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