Just because you’re on a budget, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t look as good as you can. Here are a few tips to keep you looking nice without spending hundreds or thousands of dollars. Feel free to follow as many as you like!
Keep your shoes clean and in decent shape.
I once heard somewhere that, subconsciously, the first physical thing people judge another person on when meeting is their shoes. Invest in good-quality shoes in classic styles, and if you do elect to follow a trend or two, those can and probably should be the cheaper purchases you make. Think of it this way: if you’re only going to wear it for one or two seasons, why shell out a lot of your hard-earned money for it? A trendy pair of shoes won’t be worth much of your money, based on the amount of wear you’ll get out of them. And, if you’re balking at spending more for classic, versatile pairs of shoes, calculate how much it will cost if you wear them every other day for a year, or six months, or however often you wear them for whatever length of time. My favorite shoes for the majority of the year are riding boots. I wear them from the first day in the fall that it’s fifty degrees, until the first day in spring it’s over sixty-five. They class up any and all outfits, and the leather goes with almost everything. Plus, they’re warm and comfortable!
Invest in quality accessories.
Plastic, chunky accessories can look nice – for a time. They can be fun and trendy, too. But it’s the delicate work of actual metals and semi-precious stones and gems that classes up an outfit. Don’t feel like you have to shell out hundreds of dollars for a tiny tennis bracelet (unless you want to!), but be willing to spend a little more to get better quality jewelry. The same goes for things like wallets and bags. A good piece of jewelry, purse, or wallet will last for years and years, and if it’s versatile enough, can be worn often. My favorite jewelry pieces came from Etsy, and to save my own money, I asked for them for Christmas or my birthday. I’ve learned that a little bit of patience can go a long way when it comes to your wallet.
Also, try to focus on a few places to highlight at a time when it comes to jewelry. If your hair is up, try earrings, but if they’re big and/or dangling, forgo a necklace. If you have a beautiful necklace you want to wear, try to wear smaller earrings, or a bracelet or ring, to balance the sparkle and shine. The key is balance.
Highlight one feature at a time.
As stated in the last tip, balance is key. This allows for the attribute you want to highlight to be the center of attention, but also can keep people from being visually confused by your outfit. If you’re wearing pants that show off your bottom, consider a flowier top. Or, if you’re highlighting your cleavage, consider pairing that top with a more conservative bottom piece of clothing, like a longer skirt, or flowy pants.
Pay attention to care instructions.
Perhaps you’re like my mother, who washes some things in cold water and some in hot, or perhaps you’re like me, chucking everything in on cold and gentle. If you have the time and the funds, the first option is a good one. But, if you’re a babe on a budget of both time and money like me, the second will do just fine. Soap is soap; no matter what the temperature, it’ll clean your clothes. However, do pay attention to what needs to be dry cleaned! Also, make sure that you’re not laundering things too often. Depending on the material, where the item is worn, and during what activity it is worn, some things need to be cleaned much more often than others, and some can go a few wears without a wash. For example, underwear and socks should be washed after every wear, but bras and pants can usually go a few wears before needing to be washed.
The care instructions on the tags in your clothes should be paid attention when it comes to drying and ironing, though. Some items need to be line-dried; some need a gentle tumble; and, some just need to be dried anyway you can. Iron what must be ironed (or steam, if you’re more into that), and dry things as they tell you to dry them. Those instructions are there for a reason.
Washing clothing items in cold water in a gentle cycle is the nicest way to clean them. Following drying instructions keeps them in the best shape, as well as looking their best, for as long as possible.