shopping on a budget clothes

Are You Shopping on a Budget? Here’s What To Look For in Your Clothes

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Even though everyone loves the feeling of a fresh wardrobe, constantly buying a new outfit can get expensive, which is why learning how to shop well on a clothing budget is the best way to stop you from burning through a ton of money. To help you out, I have created some looks ranging from $50 to $100 to show you the stylish pieces you get within each clothing budget, as well as shopping tips that are a win-win for your wallet and closet. But before we get to each budget, here are keys things to look for in clothes when shopping on a budget:

  • Shop for Versatile Pieces

I can’t emphasize how important it is to buy versatile clothing! If you want to shop well on a budget, this is key. Buying versatile pieces stretches your budget and allows you to mix and match them with different accessories and clothes.

These pieces will also make it easy for you to wear them for many activities. Pick a black blazer you can wear to dinner with friends and then transition it to your Monday morning meetings.

  • Shop for Neutrals

Black, grey, navy blue, beige, brown, and white serve as fantastic bases for your wardrobe. You don’t want to waste your money on too many colors that are hard to style. Plus, with neutrals, you can get away with wearing them on repeat.

Of course, strategic color can be a great addition to your wardrobe. The key is in thoughtful accent pieces, instead of a rainbow-colored wardrobe.

  • Factor in Your Lifestyle

When choosing what to spend your hard-earned money on, consider your job or lifestyle. If you walk to work, you will need super comfortable and quality flats to make your commute easier.

If you are a stay-at-home mom, you may prioritize comfort. And if you are a retiree, you may want versatile yet practical clothing that can transition from a morning in the garden to afternoon book club with friends.

  • Consider Your Shape

Though it can be hard to gauge when shopping online, consider how the clothes might look on you. Do you think that blouse would look too loose? Are the jeans short enough for your petite body? You will want to buy clothes that make you feel comfortable and confident.

  • Focus on Quality Over Trendy Items

No matter where you shop, you’ll save a lot of money by buying clothes that will never go out of style. When you shop for quality and classic pieces, you won’t have to constantly replace them due to the fluctuations of the fashion world.

And even if you’re shopping at places like H&M or Target, there are things to look for to ensure you are buying quality.

Reading reviews can help to see how well a clothing item holds up after repeated wear. But you’ll find a lot of information in the product description (assuming you’re shopping online).

Is that summer dress you’re eyeing lined or unlined? If it’s unlined, then it’s possible that your undergarments will show through. Is that “wool” cozy sweater you’re eyeing actually 99% acrylic with just 1% wool? Then it will probably be itchy and look cheap.

And if you’re shopping in person, then eye the stitching (is it even or unraveling?), the buttons (do they feel like they will snap in two?), and the elasticity (when you pull on the garment, does it snap back into place?).

There are some budget-friendly pieces that are good quality and some expensive pieces that are not. Price can be a good indicator of a quality item, but it’s best not to let it be the only thing you judge a clothing item by.

  • Look at the Big Picture

Before you click “add to cart,” ask yourself, “Do I already have that in my closet?” Or something like it? It’s an important question to ask when shopping for clothes on a budget. You don’t want to waste money on clothes you already have. Think about what’s missing in your closet first before you start buying items.

Need a shopping list to get you started? You can find one in my eBook that tells you everything you need to know to build a wardrobe from scratch!

Now, it’s time to find out what you can buy on each budget.

Shopping on a $50 Clothing Budget: Casual

shopping on a budget clothes

Jeans | Top | Earrings

So you’ve only got $50 or less to put together a stylish casual look? No problem. You don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on designer brands to create the best casual look. Thankfully, there are a wide variety of online retailers that have fashionable clothes at affordable prices!

For example, H&M is the perfect place to find great deals on classic and stylish clothing. Though the clothing is affordable, they look like high-end or expensive pieces. Plus, you can find a good deal on everyday items.

A jean plus t-shirt combo is the epitome of a casual look. And when shopping on a budget, the success is in finding pieces that look more expensive than they are. Case in point: these jeans. The slim style is current, the dark wash is timeless, and the fact that they are distress-free makes them look classy and expensive. Yet, they’re under $35!

Though these jeans could easily be dressed up, pairing them with a plain white tee adds that casual element. The fact of the matter is, $50 can’t buy you an entire outfit with shoes anymore these days, but it can buy you a top, bottoms, and some accessories to round out your look.

When shopping on a budget, avoid getting accessories that look too cheap, such as orangy-looking gold and plastic-looking jewels. But if your budget leaves you with very few options, then choose something on a small scale, like earrings instead of a statement necklace. Because even if it does look a little fake, small earrings are less obvious than a large necklace.

Add your favorite shoe choice whether that be sneakers, ankle boots, or loafers. Wear this outfit for school drop-off or to run errands. This outfit is versatile enough that you can add layers to it to make it shine, but it’s still a budget-friendly cute and casual look on its own!

Shopping on a $50 Clothing Budget: Dressy

shopping on a budget clothes

Turtleneck | Cardigan | Bottoms

Whether you’re in need of new work outfits or you like to look polished for your day-to-day, this $50 look can fit all your dressy occasions.

This sleeveless turtleneck not only works for warm climates as well as colder ones, but it’s a timeless piece that doesn’t give away its brand.

For example, there are some items that when you see them, remind you of the brand they came from right away. Such as Forever 21 and its teen-centered clothes, Target and its muted colors with hipster-leaning clothes, or Old Navy and its floral dresses.

The key to shopping well on a budget is to find pieces that look like they could come from higher-end stores, even if they didn’t. This cardigan and turtleneck look like they could be from Express or Banana Republic, making your whole outfit look more expensive.

Related: 16 Tiny Tweaks That Will Make Your Outfit Look More Expensive in No Time

Shopping on a $100 Clothing Budget: Casual

shopping on a budget clothes

Tank | Skirt | Necklace

If you’ve got double the clothing budget, you’ll find that you have some more options. Speaking of options, you can always depend on Nordstrom. It’s a great place to find deals on high-quality classic pieces that can help you put together a casual outfit.

A sweater skirt is the best of both worlds when you want a casual yet stylish outfit. The sweater material is comfortable while the skirt silhouette takes it up a notch. A herringbone chain necklace adds a polished touch.

To match the causal aesthetic, this outfit can be paired with sneakers and a tote bag. If you want to dress up this look, swap out the sneakers for ankle boots and add a polished jacket.

Shopping on a $100 Clothing Budget: Dressy

shopping on a budget clothes

Dress | Boots | Earrings

Satin (or satin-inspired) material, when done right, instantly looks dressy and upscale. When shopping on a budget, it’s helpful to look not only for quality, but for the right materials that can get you the look you are trying to achieve.

This tie-belt dress looks a lot more expensive than it is and it would be great for work, church, a formal event, or even a Christmas party!

I love ankle boots as much as the next girl, but there’s something classy about taller boots. The same goes for longer coats- it’s all in the length!

Lastly, this classy dress pairs well with an equally classy pair of pearl earrings.

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With so many chic clothing pieces online, it can be tempting to spend all your money-even money you don’t have. But with these smart shopping tips, you’ll be able to maximize your clothing budget guilt-free!

If you need more fashion budget tips, learn how to mix high and low fashion in this next post: How To Mix High and Low Fashion (& Know When To Splurge and When To Save)

shopping on a budget clothes
shopping on a budget clothes


Carolyn Arentson
Carolyn is the founder and creator behind My Chic Obsession. When she's not dreaming up new content, you can find her watching a funny tv show with her husband, raising her two boys, or planning her next trip to Paris.