cardigan and loafers outfit

7 Ways To Dress Well Without Spending Lots of Extra Money This Month

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When it comes to looking stylish for special occasions or casual outings, it’s only natural to want to buy some new clothes from your go-to online retailers. After all, clothes shopping is fun, right? But in times when the country feels unpredictable and your financial status even more so, you might decide you need to reconsider buying that new outfit in your shopping cart.

Navigating through these tough economic times can be a real headache, especially when you want to dress well without spending a lot of money or having huge clothing expenses. Here are 7 ways you can do just that- dress well without spending any extra money this month (or longer)!

1. Use What You Already Have in Your Closest To Look Good

How to look good without spending any money? Well, just use what you have. I know. This one might seem a little too obvious. But hear me out, because your bank account is going to love you for following this first tip!

I know that it’s tempting to splurge at your favorite stores (even on the clearance), but if you want to spend less money on clothes, it’s important not to give in to these impulse purchases. (Or at least not all the time!)

Using what you already have in your wardrobe is the best way to give your bank account a break. Take a closet inventory and I am sure you will find great pieces that you forgot about or haven’t worn since last year.

In a nutshell, you can do a closet inventory by emptying out all your closets and drawers and seeing what you have that still fits.

Polish off these oldies but goodies and search for new ways to wear these pieces to inspire your outfit-making. Just searching “black blazer” on this website or Pinterest will give you a plethora of ideas for new outfits to create.

You’re in luck if you’ve already built a classic wardrobe before deciding to rein in the spending. Because if you have classic items like a simple dress and white shirts, you are in luck! You can create many different looks with these wardrobe staples.

Consider pairing your dress with flats for a polished look. Additionally, you can wear the dress on its own or layer it with the aforementioned white shirt. A white shirt can go over some dresses and turn the dress into a skirt! You can also wear your white t-shirt under some dresses for a cool look.

What else can you do with white shirts? The options are endless, really. You don’t have to put in much work to make them look stylish. Team up your shirts with your trusty jeans and you will look effortlessly put together.

jeans | shirt | cardigan | necklace

2. Plan a No Spend Month

I get it-it’s hard not to make a new purchase each month. You scroll through Instagram and come across a celebrity or influencer modeling a pair of shoes that you just know will complete your shoe collection. But with inflation on the rise, the best thing to do is to keep them on your wishlist for now, if you feel like you can’t afford them comfortably.

To avoid spending too much money or splurging on things that aren’t wise for you to purchase now, consider having a no spend month. It’s not only a good idea to try for short-term money-saving benefits, but it will help you in the long run too.

So how does taking a break from spending help you dress better? It forces you to get creative using what you have. Think about it. If you’re constantly pumping new clothes into your wardrobe, you tend to stop exercising the part of your brain that tries styling different clothes.

Think back to your teenage years when you were getting ready to go out with friends and you wanted to look cool, but didn’t have any extra money to do so. What did you do? Maybe you wore a skirt over your jeans or slung a belt around your waist. You got creative using what you had! The quote, “necessity is the mother of invention”, is a good reminder that you can invent new outfits when you feel like you need to.

The key to having a successful no spend month is not spending too much time virtual window shopping. The more you are unaware of the best deals and marketing campaigns, the fewer impulse buys you will make.

If your closet is bursting with plenty of accessories, shoes, and tops, then there is a high chance that your collection already has some good clothes. Spend time getting creative wearing these items in different ways because these options will keep you looking good during your no spend month!

3. Take Good Care of Your Clothes

A no-fail way to look good without spending a dime is by taking good care of your existing clothes first. Every little thing matters. Using a sweater shaver can give your sweaters a whole new look. Sewing back on a missing button will make your cardigan look complete. Do your old clothes have nail polish stains on them? Try to renew them by using rubbing alcohol and cotton balls.

Preserve your good quality clothes by following the washing instructions. I used to never pay attention to these until I started noticing that my clothes looked worse after washing them- not better!

If the clothing tag instructs you to handwash your delicate clothes with cold water or not to take them to the dry cleaner, it’s best not to ignore the instructions.

I know it may seem like an obvious thing to do, but sometimes we are all guilty of not following the washing instructions. (And if some materials are too finicky for you, then it may be time to donate the item- it’s not worth the headache.)

It’s also important to preserve the quality clothes (particularly tops) by not choosing hangers that overpass the width of the shoulders. If you do, your tank tops or t-shirts will get stretched out and turn into Bardot tops. For sweaters, it’s usually best to fold them.

Related: How to Make Clothes Last Longer

4. Repurpose What You Already Have

A popular belief that most people follow is that once their clothes start looking old, it needs to be replaced with newer styles. And though I don’t recommend wearing clothes that look like they’re falling apart (it downgrades your whole look), some of your old clothes might have the potential to be something new again!

Just as treating stains and taking care of your clothes is important, it’s also important to see if your old clothes can be repurposed into a new look without spending anything extra.

What existing pieces of yours that have seen better days can be repurposed into something new? Your favorite pair of jeans can get renewed by either turning them into cut-off shorts or by using RIT dye to give them a new look.

Did you know that your sweaters can get revamped too? Before you donate them to second-hand shops, try to re-size them.

To give a flattering shape, an old boxy sweater can be transformed. In a nutshell, you can turn it into a fitting silhouette by doing the following: turn your sweater inside out, try it on, pin the extra fabric, take it off, and sew the areas you pinned.

On the flip side, you can take older sweaters and cut them to give them a boxier shape. A cropped, boxy sweater looks trendy and can give it a new look.

Youtube will be your best friend to find sewing videos so you can DIY!

5. Keep Your Purses & Accessories Organized

Another step to dressing well without spending extra money is to make sure that your precious accessories are still of good quality. Sorry to say it, but walking around with a tattered purse is not a good look!

Whether you have a designer piece or a Target purse in your collection (both great options), you will need to keep them in tip-top shape.

A pro tip is to store them away properly. Put your accessories in satin, flannel, or cotton dustbags. Dustbags help keep your high-quality bags from getting scratched and from being faded by the sun.

Secondly, if your purses always fall over on your closet shelf, invest in acrylic purse dividers. Not only will the dividers make your bedroom look aesthetically pleasing, but they keep your bags from getting lost.

A slouchy purse (that’s not meant to be slouchy) can downgrade your whole outfit. To avoid this, you can preserve the shape of your handbag with purse inserts. These inserts are a great way to stop your bags from creasing and keep things more organized!

For my taller boots, I always make sure they’re stored with boot inserts. Not only does it make my closet space look nicer, but it preserves their shape and keeps them from getting unsightly creases.

Related post: How to Store Purses in Practical and Cute Ways

6. Finish Off Your Outfit With Accessories

As you probably know by now, dressing well doesn’t mean that you have to buy new clothes. Sometimes, well, a lot of the time, it’s just styling your existing clothes in ways you haven’t before. One way to do this is by finishing off your outfit with an accessory that you tend to never pair with a specific look.

The same outfit you always wear can look extra stylish by pairing some different accessories with it. If your favorite outfit is a simple jumpsuit, try tying a scarf or bandana around your neck next time you wear it to add some oomph.

If a basic t-shirt is on your body 24/7, try layering a pile of gold or silver necklaces with it next time. These little style choices will complete your outfit and make it feel new.

7. When You Do Shop, Shop Wisely

It is so easy to spend hundreds (and sometimes thousands) of dollars in a few months on clothes and needless to say, this is not a wise decision to make if times are tight.

The best way to become a savvy spender is to skip the trendy items from fast-fashion stores. What you need to do instead is to focus on classic styles that will keep you looking fashionable for years.

Though it may seem like you’re spending more money upfront if you choose quality items, you’ll actually be getting your money’s worth in the long run. One staple piece, such as black pants, will give you dozens of outfits while something like a statement floral dress can really only be worn 1-2 ways.

An effective way of building up your wardrobe with versatile pieces is by building a capsule wardrobe. Having a capsule wardrobe is perfect for anyone that has a limited budget! You only need a few dozen items to keep you looking chic all year round. These clothing items can be mixed and matched to create effortlessly stylish clothes that will last you years.

For a free wardrobe-building checklist to help you get started, click on the image below!

newsletter sign up wardrobe building checklist

Knowing how to dress well without spending extra money during tough times seems like an impossible challenge.

When your inbox is flooded with discounts and new-in clothes, it’s easy to spend more than you should.

But with these 7 ideas, you can still get the desired fashionable look you want without breaking the bank. For more budget-friendly ways to upgrade your look, check out How to Look Expensive On A Budget!

Woman wearing striped t-shirt while carrying a black handbag
how to dress well without spending extra money


Founder and editor of My Chic Obsession, Carolyn is your trusted fashion maven. Carolyn's drive to help others achieve a classic and timeless wardrobe fuels her posts, making a go-to resource for style seekers worldwide. Beyond the wardrobe, she resides in the heartland of the Midwest, dreaming up new ideas and raising her two lively boys - her biggest fashion critics.