I am going to step a little out of the box this week and discuss cultivating your own signature style. I think nowadays everyone knows – or at least feels the pressure – to look the part. No matter what part you play throughout the day – maybe it’s a big job interview, a big date or an epic party – there is a pressure or at very least a desire to wear something that makes you feel special. And, especially with women and never ending fads and seasons how does one begin to cultivate a personal style that is both exciting and functional?
I do know that not everyone shops as much as I do. There are times when I walk down the street and I can tell you head to toe where a girl got her outfit, what brands and sometimes even what season. And with the mass production and affordable prices of stores such as H&M or Forever 21, I sometimes feel doomed to look like everyone else. I don’t always have the funds to start racking up the Saks card. So what does one do when ballin’ on a budget?
I am going to tell you a little secret about me: My wardrobe is 90% fake it ‘til you make it. I rarely, if ever, pay full price for ANYTHING.
When beginning to shop for a new outfit, the first place I go is into my own closet. There is a lot to be said for using what you have. Open your closet and look and find one item you love but maybe haven’t worn but once or twice. Even if it is something as slight as a belt or a pair of shoes, just make sure it is something you are excited about wearing. If it is a clothing item make sure it is the right fit. Maybe it’s a dress and you love the pattern but it needs to be hemmed. Or maybe it is a shirt that might look better without sleeves. Even if it doesn’t need any alterations make this piece your jump off point for creating an outfit you love.
Thrift shops are the second place you want to go to find something truly unique. Try googling your area to see what is available around you. Shops like Buffalo Exchange and Becon’s Closet are all over the place but even Goodwill can be a goldmine. Thrift shops are my favorite place to stock up on accessories like belts. You can find a beautiful real leather skinny belt at a thrift shop you may otherwise pay $50 for at JCrew. Be careful to pay attention to quality when shopping at a thrift store. Even if it’s cheap there is no sense in spending money on something that doesn’t have life left in it.
I still appreciate a good pair of designer jeans. So my next stop is maybe a discount store such as Nordstrom Rack, Lohman’s or Neman’s Last Call. Depending on the season I usually find some great basics at these places without having to pay full price. I recently purchased a great pair of Paige skinny jeans from the Nordstrom Rack in Union Square for $80 plus the hemming was free. Stay away from stocking up on too many trendy pieces here since they are usually last season.
I like to finish off my budget shopping with the internet for my really special pieces. Ebay and Etsy are obvious favorites. It is best to be extremely specific when you are looking for a piece online, otherwise you may be stuck looking through tons and tons of product. Search specifically for designers you see and like but maybe find a little out of your price range. I recently bought a beautiful grey leather bomber jacket from BCBG originally $550 purchased on Ebay for $100. I get compliments on it all the time.
It is important for me to be a little picky when it comes to shopping, especially in NYC where my closet is the size of a coffin. For the longest time I found myself having a closet full of items I enjoyed but did not have complete looks to go with. Most statement items in your closet should be multifunctional. Meaning you should be able to wear them with 2-3 different outfits. I think when you start with what you have and love, it takes the pressure out of shopping and having to specifically “create” a look from nothing.