By guest blogger Kris Williams
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Winter is here, and once again you don’t have enough money to buy yourself anything nice. As the sharp-dressed socialites shuffle down Broadway, you’re forced to look on in your shabby pea coat and duck boots that – let’s be real – haven’t been cool since 2009. It feels like a tragedy sad enough to bring a tear to Mr. Scrooge’s eye.
Well buck up, Tiny Tim (or Tina)! Just because your pockets are a little light at the moment is no reason to content yourself with salivating over window displays. There are plenty of ways that even the most cash-strapped fashion junkies can put together an awesome winter wardrobe. You just need to know what to buy and where to buy it. For example, here’s a brief guide on how to put together an awesome seasonal wardrobe when you’re totally broke.
Dress Up a Low-End Coat
You know how many people can tell the difference between this
that only costs $110? Not many. Winter coats, especially pea coats, tend to look the same across price points. So why spend a fortune on one when a budget model will likely look just as good and keep you just as warm?
The best part about budget coats is that they can easily be dressed up to look more expensive. For instance, you might consider replacing the plastic buttons on your pea coat with brass ones from your local craft store or adding some patches and beading to your military jacket. When it comes to looking chic this season, little touches like these can go a long way.
Get Your Kicks at the Thrift Store
While we’re on the subject of thrift stores, let’s discuss shoes. Leather (or vegan!) riding boots are in this season. These boots are excellent to wear in cold weather and are highly versatile when it comes to styling, but they also tend to be a tad expensive.
With that in mind, keep a sharp eye out for gently used riding boots at your local thrift shops. Though thrift shops are notoriously poor places to find shoes, they always seem to have a pair or two of interesting boots lying about. If you get your boots pre-owned, they’ll be cheaper and a tad bit more comfortable because they’ve already been broken in. I recently snagged a pair for $45 at my local junk shop that fit me like a glove.
Another great place to find used boots is online. There are thousands of listings for gently used riding boots on classifieds and auction sites right now, so it should be easy to snag a pair you love at a decent price. A word to the wise, though – If you choose to buy your footwear online, I strongly recommend trying on similar boots at a shoe store to get the size right before you place a bid. Returning something you bought from a private seller online is a pain, so you want to make sure that the boots you’re buying fit perfectly before you pay for them.
Need a Cute Cocktail Dress? Cut Up a Prom Gown!
Metallic, shimmery dresses are all the rage this season. If you don’t have $500 to blow on one for your wardrobe, you might want to consider making your own out of an old prom or homecoming dress.
While a few homecoming dresses are classy and short enough to wear out without alteration, if all the gowns in the back of your closet are fully bedazzled and ruched, you’re probably going to want to start from scratch. Look for a simple floor-length ball gown or mermaid cut dress at your local thrift store or used clothing outlet. If you’re buying one off-season, you should be able to get it for a bargain. Once you bring the dress home, put it on and use a piece of chalk to mark where you want it to cut off. Try to err on the side of length, because you can always hem it shorter later on. After it’s marked, take it off and inspect it inch-by-inch with a tape measure to ensure that your cut will be level. Once you have your final line marked, carefully cut off the material with fabric shears, trim the lining and voila! You now have a cute little number to wear out this weekend.
Practice Good Accessorizing
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Accessories are a great way to make an old outfit feel new again, especially when your wardrobe budget is less than $50. Therefore, it’s a good idea to stock up on a variety of them.
At the top of your shopping list should be scarves. These winter essentials can help style any outfit and they’ll keep you warm to boot. However, that doesn’t mean you should break the bank on them. Rather than splurge on a designer scarf, look for one online and at your local big-box retailers. Try to find one in a neutral shade or a colorful pattern that matches your coat. Oblong scarves typically work best for this, because they can be tied in a variety of ways and worn with all sorts of outfits.
When it comes to hats, knit beanies are always a safe bet. They’re cheap, they’re versatile and they’re warm. Pick one up in a neutral shade and you can wear it with just about anything.
Finally, you need to get a decent pair of gloves. Try to get gloves that are the opposite, style-wise, of your coat. If you have a black or brown pea coat, get patterned gloves or mittens that work with your scarf. If you have a patterned coat, then stick with solid colors. Again, big box stores are your friend here because you want to keep your gloves cheap. Anything more than $25 should be out of the question.
Looking good and being broke don’t have to be mutually exclusive. When winter comes, practice these smart shopping skills and you’ll be able to put together an awesome seasonal wardrobe without breaking the bank or stepping into “Dollar Store Hipster” territory. If you need something new, buy it cheap. If you can’t buy something cheap, then rehash something old. Get creative. Who knows, your attempt to be fashionable might just kick off a new trend altogether.
Bio: Kris Williams is a proud vegetarian, confessed fashion addict and lover of all things technological.When she’s not busy being the overindulgent mother to a fussy eight year-old, you can find her blogging at StyleCynics.com