The Frugal Fashionista

Tips for the Frugal Fashionista

I love fashion, especially accessories: shoes, handbags, scarves, jewelry! The reality is that I am on a tight fashion budget. As a teacher, I totally understand the struggles of not being able to afford those gorgeous Tory Burch flats or the Louis Vuitton bag.  Rocking designer brands can be expensive.  Fortunately, I have learned ways to buy the fashion items that I love without busting my budget or getting a divorce! Find out how you can be a frugal fashionista, too.t

Here are 3 tips on how to be a Fabulous Frugal Fashionista without breaking the bank:

  1. Spend money on quality classics

Spend 70% of your clothing fund on quality, well-made classic pieces in neutrals like black, white, navy, browns and gray. (Cheetah is neutral!) These pieces will last and not go out of style.  The other 30% of your clothing fund is spent on fun, trendy pieces to jazz up your outfits.

The key for the 70% is quality!  To determine quality look for:

  • Metal zippers instead of plastic
  • Working buttons on sleeves.
  • Finished seams (example below) or lined jackets
  • Tighter stitches (more stitches per inch requires more thread)
  • Quality thread and buttons
  • Garment shaping and unique design features
  • Patterns that match up on the sides (this takes more fabric and cost more to produce)

Better quality clothing just lasts longer. You pay more for quality at the time of purchase, but the long-term cost-per-wearing actually ends up being less because you own the garment longer.  Mom wanted me to be sure to explain this.  So, here goes:  Let us use a black classic blazer as an example.  You buy one for $50 at H&M and one for $150 (say, from cabi). You wear each jacket once a week (52 weeks in a year). After a year, the H&M jacket is faded and worn out.  It is time to let it go.  You get another 4 years wear from your $150 cabi jacket.  In the end, the $50 jacket cost you $0.96 per wearing.  The $150 cabi jacket costs you $0.58 per wearing.  So, you see, a bargain is not always a bargain, which brings me to my next point:

  1. Be a MAXXanista

As I mentioned, I am an accessories girl.  My go-to stores for designer accessories are T.J.Maxx, Marshall’s and ROSS.  Mom loves Nordstrom Rack and Off 5th.  I do not normally buy my clothes from these stores, as sizing is hit-or-miss for me.  In addition, it takes me too much time to go through the racks and time is precious for me!  However, these stores are great for snagging designer accessories (like my pink Kate Spade sneakers and my multiple pair of Converse).  In fact, I buy most of my shoes, purses, hair care and jewelry at these discount stores. These stores often buy items from big retailers and the items are over-runs or from a previous season.  Shopping these stores allows you to wear better quality, designer labels at a fraction of the cost; designers like Kate Spade, Michael Kors, CHI, Converse, Dr. Scholl’s, Sperry, Under Armour, Ralph Lauren, Nine West, Steve Madden…oh I could go on but I think you get the point!   Adding trendy accessories is an inexpensive way of updating your classic pieces.  I even buy my home décor, son’s clothes, gourmet food items…like, I seriously love these stores!

  1. Be a Thrifty Shopper and Save the planet

Textile waste from the fashion industry is piling up at alarming rates and harming our planet.  According to, the average American disposes of 82 pounds of clothing waste a year.  IN ADDITION, that clothing takes 40 years to decompose.  Having an Ag-Science education, it makes great sense to me from a sustainability standpoint (as well as a fatter wallet) to shop second-hand stores.

Second-hand shopping is not what it used to be.  Online stores like The,,,, (for designer purses) and (and even Facebook shopping groups) all offer high-end designer clothing at a fraction of the price and have made designer apparel affordable for many.  Although great finds can sometimes take time, I have found items like my Louis Vuitton bag and Kendra Scott jewelry second hand online!

Houston has a good variety of high-end resale shops.  Here are a few of our favs:

  • Marry Go Round – Where I bought my wedding gown. In Montrose on W. Gray
  • Baubles and Beads Memorial – Between Gessner and the Beltway
  • More Than You Can Imagine – High-end resale in Upper Kirby

I hope this helps you, fellow frugal fashionista!  Please comment and tell us your favorite bargain-hunting ideas, local and online resale shops!

Next week on the blog- FALL FASHION TRENDS!

  1. Great read and right on fashion target. I will add that I love to buy accessories at resale shops when I travel. From furs to purses to scarfs; resale & estate sales are fun & often full of the classic pieces.

    • Thanks, Monica! I agree that resale and estate sales are fun! Also some charity leagues have resale shops too – like the Blue Bird Circle and The Guild Shop. I had never thought about going to resale shops while traveling. That is a fabulous idea!!!!! – Ellen

  2. Great article on your quality classics. Just this weekend we went through my daughters closet and two of her trendy jackets she loved, seems were splitting. I agree quality is more expensive but a better bargain. Thanks for describing what to look for when purchasing items.

Leave a Reply

A Little About Ellen

Ellen Caldwell, personal stylist in HoustonEllen was chosen as a top personal stylist in Houston, Texas by CBS Houston! I graduated Summa Cum Laude from Houston Baptist University with degrees in Finance and Business Administration.

Contact Us

E. Caldwell Style
Call us at (832) 643-1879
Email us your questions