Tips And Tricks For The Budget Fashionista

Got champagne taste, but a beer budget? It’s hard to stay fashionable when you’re trying to make ends meet. But just because your budget can only afford San Mig Lights, it doesn’t mean you can’t look like you drink Clos d’Ambonnay. Here are our tips on how you can be a budget fashionista and look chic for cheap:

1. Set a budget before you start buying.

Don’t just take all your money when you go shopping. Before you head out, set yourself a hard budget. When you know how much you’re letting yourself spend, you can buy the clothes you want guilt-free without throwing the rest of your budget into chaos. To prepare for shopping sprees, you can also save a little every month just for fashion, and at the end of a few months, you take what you’ve saved in your “fashion” category and spend it to your heart’s content.

2. See a tailor.


Photo: Shutterstock

An expensive dress can look like a sack of rice if it doesn’t fit right. How much worse would an ill-fitting P500 dress look? Thankfully, for those on a budget, a little tailoring can make inexpensive pieces look a lot better. According to Real Simple, the following alterations will give you the most improvements:

  • Adjusting the hem. The most flattering skirt hemline is at the knee. If your skirt isn’t at this level, ask a tailor to alter the hem to line up with your knee.
  • Stitching up bulging pockets. Take out the lining and have the tailor sew up the openings. This will give a sleeker look to your outfit.
  • Shortening pant hems. Get them to a length that fits you better, so they’re not sagging on the floor.
  • Taking in a saggy waist. A good-fitting waist will go a long way towards making your outfit look less budget. If your waist sags, have it taken in so that it fits comfortably.
  • Tacking up long shirt cuffs. Don’t look like you’re drowning in your own blouse. If the cuffs are too long, have them adjusted so that they fall at your wrists.

3. Get dark colors.

black dress

Photo: Shutterstock

There’s a reason everyone has a little black dress — they never go out of style. Not only does black go with everything, its dark color will hide the flaws of the dress, disguising the fact that it’s a budget outfit. “With dark tones, you focus on the silhouette, and imperfect details tend to disappear,” says Leah Feldon, the author of Dress Like a Million (On Considerably Less). You don’t have to limit yourself to black, either. Purple, burgundy, or navy blue are great options as well. And don’t forget to liven up the look with a brightly colored accessory, like a bright scarf or a necklace.

4. Check up on credit card promos.

If you look hard enough, there’s basically a credit card promo for everything. Until February 28, Security Bank credit cards are giving up to 20% discounts at the shoe store Le Bunny Bleu. And until April 30, you can get 15% off of your Zalora purchases from a featured category every month, along with free shipping, with your RCBC Bankard Credit Card, as long as you use the code RCBCBA15. Some cards, like the HSBC Red MasterCard, are particularly good for fashion shopping since they give you faster rewards for shopping at certain stores, like Crossings or Uniqlo. The credit card in your wallet could be the one to give you the fashion discounts you desire, so make sure you stay on top of the latest credit card promos from your bank. iMoney rounds up the best credit card promos every month, so watch out for those in our credit card articles section!

5. Know your style — don’t just fall for the latest trends.

woman shopping clothes

Photo: Shutterstock

It’s easy to get carried away by the latest trends. But next thing you know, you have a closet full of patterns that went out of fashion the day after you bought them. Instead of spending all your money to keep up with the trends, first, you have to know your style. Know what silhouettes, colors, and patterns look good on you and flatter your figure, and build your wardrobe around that. Also, keep in mind the 70/30 ratio — 70% of your clothes should be classic, timeless pieces that will never go out of style, and 30% should be trendy items you buy for lower prices, and you won’t mind parting with them once the trend is over. This way, you spend money on clothes that will look good for a long time, and you get the most bang for your buck. Spend no more than 30% of your fashion budget on trendy, cheaper pieces.

6. Greenhills and ukay-ukays are your friend.

Keen shoppers can find good-looking pieces for very low prices at Greenhills. If you need to get a lot of new pieces on a very limited budget, or you absolutely must have this season’s trends, Greenhills and ukay-ukays are your best bet. The main problem with shopping at these places is that it can be hard to find good pieces, so you’ll have to dig around and go through a lot of clothes before finding something to your taste. But remember that your whole wardrobe doesn’t have to be from the ukay-ukay. Mix and match your budget buys with your more expensive pieces to get more use out of them, or as a cheap way to add some flash to your usual outfits.

7. Have a clothing swap party with friends.

clothing swap

Photo: Shutterstock

Do you have a lot of outfits that don’t fit you any more? Organize a clothing swap party with your friends! Prepare some drinks and snacks, invite your friends over, and have your friends bring over clothes and accessories they don’t want anymore, and shop each other’s wardrobes for new outfits. With a clothing swap party, you can upgrade your wardrobe for the great price of free, and clear out your unwanted pieces while you’re at it. Win-win. Some tips to make sure your clothing swap party goes well: make sure to bring clothes in good (or repairable) condition, and that the clothes are organized so everyone gets a chance to check out all the options before deciding on what they want to swap. And make sure there’s plenty of drinks snacks for everyone!

8. Shop online.

shop online

Photo: Shutterstock

More and more Filipinos are shopping online. Make this work to your advantage! Online stores  often have sales that can save you more money than if you went to a brick-and-mortar store, all from the comfort of your own home. However, you’ll need a credit card to shop online. If you don’t have one yet, find the right credit card that fits your lifestyle with our comparison tool.

9. Stay on top of fashion with social media and email alerts.

Sign up for your favorite outlet’s email alerts and follow them on social media. You’ll keep in touch with the latest news and sales from them, as well as discounts and great deals so you can refresh your wardrobe with good pieces for less. For example, simply signing up to Zalora’s email list will get you P250 off on your purchase. Worried that you’ll be spammed with shopping emails? Set up a different email address just for promo emails from your favorite stores! This way your regular email won’t get swamped, and you can choose to read the promo emails when you have some money and are ready to take advantage of sales.

10. Accessories are a cheap way to spice up your wardrobe.


Photo: Shutterstock

If you can’t afford to completely revamp your wardrobe, buying a few great accessories is a quick and inexpensive way of leveling up your look. Pick up a new bag, some necklaces, or other things that can add a splash of style to your ensemble without busting your budget. The great thing about these accessories? They can go with any of your outfits. You can even upgrade your look by simply replacing buttons on things you already have. The fashion blog Who What Wear says that replacing cheap plastic buttons on a blazer or jacket is a budget way of classing up a look.


With these tips and tricks, you can look like a million bucks for much, much less. All it takes is some patience and some thinking out of the box. So don’t let your budget suppress your inner fashionista! Dress how you feel without breaking the bank.

Ready to be a budget fashionista? Find the right shopping credit card that will help you spruce up your wardrobe for less.

Leave your comment