Being fashion forward can be frugal if you know how to do it

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My final commentary on posts from the carnivals I’ve participated in this week is one from yesterday’s Festival of Frugality. Rebecca explains how watching fashion trends is frugal and shares some great tips on how to get the biggest bang for buck. Like many posts from that Festival, her advice is worth reading, and here are some more thoughts I have on the subject:

If you want to look truly fashionable, ignore US media. We’re a good 3-4 years behind the rest of the world. In fact, if you’ve ever checked out Vogue on the newsstands, you’ll notice that the British version differs from the Italian version, all of which are much different from the US version. Can’t find these imported magazines? Don’t worry, save the $10 and go online. My favorite fashion site to visit is . (I’m strongly biased toward fashion from Spain and Italy.) You don’t have to read Spanish, but you can browse through the “Moda” section to see all the new styles and trends. “Tendencias” (trends), “Top 10”, and “Mode en la Calle” (snapshots of real people walking down the street that Vogue considers fashionable) are also great to browse through.

Since fashion in Europe is so far ahead of us in the US, you can often find clothing here at a discount or in thrift stores. For example, skorts that looked like stuff from the 70s mixed with tall boots and long stockings were in fashion in Spain this winter, and when’s the last time you saw someone walking around in a wool skort here in the US? As long as you can find a few pieces, mix them up and add a little creativity, no one will be able to tell you didn’t buy retail. Remember, in fashion trends, it’s the combination of pieces that create a “look”!

Check out Zara and H&M: Spain has a few retail businesses that have flourished in women’s fashion by making it so their (time from design to store shelf is a mere 5 weeks) and also create scarcity value. The only one with locations in the US is , and while you won’t be able to be as fashionable as counterparts in Europe (inventory and designs in Zara stores vary by country to suit local tastes), it’s a cheaper way to look stylish than shopping at Balenciaga or buying Manolos, for example.

Unfortunately, Zara is by far the cheapest in Spain and most expensive here in the US. I bought a blouse in Vancouver, BC five months ago that was 30% cheaper than it was in their store in San Francisco two months ago, and that’s before the favorable exchange rate. Still, a few elements here and there from Zara, plus some from H&M (who recently managed to get the likes of Karl Lagerfeld to design a some pieces for them) and a few thrift stores, and you’re good to go. Keep in mind that neither clothing from Zara nor H&M are meant to last forever, and these aren’t places to buy classics or suits. They’re just a compromise between being fashionable and having to pay lots of money for it.

Of course, the most frugal way to be fashionable is if you can make it yourself. But if you’re that good, maybe you should be trying out for Project Runway :)


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3 Feedbacks on "Being fashion forward can be frugal if you know how to do it"


Thanks for the nice mention!

You are so right about European fashion, as I learned from a painful junior high experience. In the middle of my 9th grade year, my family moved from Germany back to the States. My oh-so-hip downtown jeans proved to be social suicide in the middle of a cornfield.

Oh well.


Heh, don’t worry, jeans are tough. A few years ago, dark jeans with very obvious lighter areas in certain areas (front of the thigh, back of the butt) were in in Europe, but all they got were laughs from Canadians and Americans at school….


It’s a pleasure to find such raliinatoty in an answer. Welcome to the debate.


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