Scroll through the Instagram discovery tab even just once, and you’re likely to find an influencer’s style you admire. However, maybe those Gucci loafers aren’t in your price range (they’re certainly not in ours). While influencers get outrageously priced items “gifted” to them to help create their effortless sense of style, most of us aren’t in the same boat. But don’t let this discourage you. It is more than possible to define your own personal style with these budget-friendly tips.
1. Follow Your Style Icons: Using Pinterest, Instagram, and/or even Google, search for style icons you have admired from past to present. This can include the elegant royal pictures of Grace Kelly or the street-style paparazzi photos of Hailee Beiber (side note: I’m still shook by that celebrity name change). You’ll soon gather a multitude of images that you can look to for inspiration while styling clothes in your closet or while shopping. The best part about doing this is that it’s free!
2. Have One Signature: All style icons have had one or two pieces that are their signature. For example, Jackie O had oversized, dark sunglasses, while Carrie Bradshaw had a plethora of Manolo Blahniks heels. Cher was known for her thick, waist-grazing hair long before Kim Kardashian West. Think of something you wear constantly — maybe a leather moto jacket you thrifted, or your favorite gold coin necklace. Whatever it is, find one or two items in your closet that are part of your style identity, and start building different outfit combinations around them.
3. Don’t Splurge on Trends: Keeping up with the latest trends is becoming increasingly more difficult. With the new age of influencers, a trend can be here and gone within weeks. Having a set personal style means you have a better idea of whether or not you’d actually feel comfortable in a trend. If your style revolves around trends, to keep from spending big dollars on ever-evolving trends of the fashion world, look to find the cheaper version rather than the expensive original. Trends come and go, so why spend a fortune on something you won’t wear in a year?
4. Always Consider Comfort: A lot of times people buy things but aren’t comfortable in them. Think about how often you wear something you own that’s uncomfortable. The answer is probably not a lot. Oftentimes, the items that we turn to the most are the ones that are most comfortable. So make sure to only buy things that you are comfortable in — or else it’s a waste of money (and your comfort).
5. Note What You Already Have: If you have three of the same pointed-toe shoes in different prints, you’re a repeater. What I mean by this is you repeatedly buy something that is almost the same. You know what you like, but you waste money buying something you already have. When shopping, consider if you already have something similar, and don’t purchase the new item if you do.
6. Borrow New Ideas: Ever adore a beautiful blouse your close friend wore that one night at dinner? Ask politely to borrow it. Once you borrow it, wear it once and see how you feel in it. It’s a great and simple way to figure out if something fits your style and worth buying. Just make sure to return it quickly in the condition you borrowed it in.
7. Consider Cost Per Wear: This is a rule I live by. Let’s say you buy a statement skirt for $25 and wear it once on a date. Since that skirt was $25 and you wore it once, that’s $25 per wear. If you wear a jacket 10 times and it cost you $50, then that’s $5 per wear. When you really think about it, you’d much rather wear something multiple times that’s actually your style than waste $25. Before purchasing anything, think about cost per wear to help you rationalize if something is a financially responsible purchase to make.
8. Returns: We all make regrettable choices. Sometimes you buy a cool top, never wear it, and it sits in your closet with the tags on. In this case, there is only one thing to do: return it. It’s probably not your style, and most likely, you won’t ever wear it in the future. Returns are an easy way to get your money back with zero guilt. Just make sure to keep your receipts! (Pro tip: Shop at stores that don’t have a hard and fast return policy, like Nordstrom.)
9. When You’re Bit with the Shopping Bug, Reorganize: Whenever I want to buy an article of clothing or an accessory that is pricey, I look to my closet and reorganize! Your closet is a treasure trove of goodies from the past. You’ll likely find a statement blouse or rock t-shirt you forgot you owned and still love. In the end, you’ll be happy you didn’t spend money, and that you productively helped organize your space.
10. Donate or Sell What No Longer Suits You: While reorganizing, look at clothing you haven’t worn in a while. I’m talking about that cheap Zara top you bought in college to look cute for some frat guy in a backwards baseball hat at the local bar. Rather than throw it out because it’s not your style anymore, consider donating it or selling it. You will help someone in need or make a profit. It’s a win-win.
Laura is a marketing specialist and fashion enthusiast living in the Los Angeles area. When she isn’t chugging coffee and meeting deadlines, you will likely find her at the beach, online shopping for the best deals, and spending time with her dog. You can find her on Instagram @laura_furlongg.
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