Blissful and Domestic - Creating a Beautiful Life on Less: Dressing on a Shoestring Budget

Monday, August 20, 2012

Dressing on a Shoestring Budget


Good morning lovelies! I hope this wonderful Monday you are all doing well. Anyone try out  my new menu plan this week? I am glad you are all downloading them and using them for your families. Great job! I am excited for today's post. It is inspired by all you lovelies. I often get asked what I do when it comes to clothes. Do I budget and if I do how do I budget for those wonderful clothes all of us ladies love to wear? Well today I am answering your question and giving you a post chock full of great ideas on how to dress on a shoestring budget. I have to give you a bit of a back story first. I grew up never knowing a thrift store. Thrift stores were only where umm.....poor people went....insert shocking gasp.....I know right! I was horrible, but that is exactly what I thought. I couldn't believe that people actually shopped at thrift stores. You donated to them, but you never shopped there. Insert me telling my younger self I was such a snob. I was...seriously folks! My nose looked up at all of the thrifting mumbo jumbo. If only my 16 year old self could see me now. We would totally be duking it out. Well about 6 years ago I entered my first thrift store. We were living in Washington and my motherinlaw had come for a visit. She was an avid thrift store supporter. She convinced me to go to one. I put on my big girl pants, brought along my anti-bacterial soap, and I was ready for an experience of a life time. I honestly thought I would hate it. What I had pictured was not what was before me. I saw row after row of clothes, with so much potential. Toys that had once been loved, but now waited for new little owners. I fell in love. I couldn't believe at what my 16 year old self had been missing out on. Man thrift stores were pretty darn awesome! I purchased a few new toys and clothes for my family. That is where the thrift store obsession began. I eventually moved back to Nevada and my motherinlaw showed me all of her favorite thrift stores. After that, my local thrift store and I became besties. I didn't shop there for everything, but I definitely liked to browse and see all the possibilities that were there.

Now flash forward 2 more years. I was living with my mom in law. Hubby was in that Desert I hate Iraq. He told me to read America's Cheapest Family. Remember I told you about that here? Well in that book, the Economides talk about how they only shop at thrift stores. They buy all of their clothes, household items, etc there. I was amazed. Why had I not thought of that before? Man I needed to get it together. Well after that, I started committing myself to thrift stores more fully. We were going steady and it was a great relationship. I still shopped Target Clearance, when I couldn't find what I was looking for at a thrift store. I shopped ahead for my kids clothes (meaning I bought a size/season ahead, when I could. It helped a ton!) Things were great. Hubby got home from Iraq and our income changed dramatically. The job we thought he would get, fell through. No one was hiring. The economy went to pooh here in Vegas. We needed to save....well actually we needed to just get things had to be cut. I decided to go homemade even more. I started learning to refashion and sew. It was a challenge, but a welcomed one. I stopped shopping Target Clearance, in fact this year I have given up department stores all together. I either make my clothes or thrift them. 

So this is how my love for thrifting was born. I never thought I would be where I am today. I never thought I would be typing a post for thousands to read. Never thought anyone would actually want to read or use anything I wrote. My life may not be the way the Hubbs and I planned 10 years ago, but man I wouldn't change it for the world! I love that I had to learn how to go homemade. I would do anything for that sweet family of mine. For those sweet read heads, I will give up anything for them to have more. Thrifting allows me to do that. I still get to have cute clothes for my family, but pay the bills, feed the nuggets, and sometimes have a little extra left over at the end of the month. I love it when that happens.

Today I am going to share with you a few tips and tricks I use. All of these tips will help you build and grow your closet on a shoestring budget. I am going to focus mostly on how us Moms/Women can build our closets, but the same tips apply to our littles and our husbands. So are you ready to find out what my tips and tricks are?

Let's get to it.....

Yep the B word ladies and gents. Oh how that word use to sound like a curse word to me. No longer. I love it. It means freedom and knowing exactly where my family is at financially. In your monthly budget, include a little bit of cash for clothes. When you have littles, you need a clothes budget. Shopping at thrift stores allows you to get a lot more bang for your buck. Man those nuggets never stop growing! Having a little bit of dinero set aside for shopping helps to keep them constantly clothed in items that actually fit. This also allows Mom and Dad to get a few new things now and then also. Each month we budget about $40 for our family. 
We don't always use this, but we know it is there if we need to.

Oh my..... you didn't know thrift stores have sales? They do! Pretty sweet right? Check out where your local thrift stores are. Some more popular ones are Deseret Industries, Salvation Army, and Savers. There are loads of local thrift stores though. Check the yellow pages. You never know what little gems will be located near you. A local thrift store I love sends me weekly e-mails. They let me know what their tag sales are that week. This particular store has different colored tags, which go on sale each week. Sometimes they are half off or only $1. Last week they had a purple tag, 50 cent sale. I was beyond excited! I snagged my pictured black pencil skirt for 50 cents and my top for $2.00. A complete outfit for $2.50! Oh no I didn't! Oh that's right, I did! It was so sweet...insert my happy face... This thrift store also has a frequent buyer punch card. They punch your card for every $10 you spend. Once you receive 8 punches, you get $20 store credit. How freakin awesome is that? I took advantage of this perk during the 50 cent sale. I got $40 worth of clothes for my family, but I only spent $20. Can we all say SWEET! Check out your local thrift stores. Some give military discounts and some have certain sale days. Ask around and try to go one of those days. Why not save when you can? This is my motto. Oh and if you have a Savers near you, check out their exchange program. You donate clothes and get credit towards a new purchase. They use to do this a year ago. Call to see if they still do this.


Have some standards ladies... Don't just buy something because it catches your eye. Be smart. Every item you purchase, needs to have a place in your wardrobe. This means it should be versatile. Although having a statement piece is fantastic and Stacey and Clinton (What Not to Wear) would be proud, it is not always practical. Having one statement piece is all good, but 10 is crazy. Especially if these item do not pair well with anything else in your closet. Be conscious of what you buy and what you spend. So many people buy clothing because they see it in an ad,on the mannequin, or because it is just plain popular. They don't think about how much they will actually wear it. Make sure the fit is right. Just because something is on sale, does not mean you need it. Also, all thrift stores sell accessorizes. Sometimes they even sell them by the bag full. Literally. It is pretty cool. You buy a bag of jewelry for just a few dollars. I have gotten a lot of great statement jewlery this way. Remember a great pair of earrings or a necklace and really take an outfit to the next level. This is a great thing to invest in, when thrifting.

Remember the old saying, "don't judge a book by its cover?" Well it still applies. Don't take clothing items at face value. Remember one mans trash is another's treasure. At first you may see an old frumpy, denim jumper, but a little bit of tweaking and you may end up with a new addition to your wardrobe. Think outside the box. I know for some this is more difficult. It is literally rewiring your brain. When I look at clothes I ask myself a few questions. First, Can I wear it as is? Second, Do I have something in my closet right now that will work with it? Third, If it is not ok as is, what can I make it into? Remember too short dresses can become skirts and vice versa. Shirts can become cardi's and pants can become capri's. This goes for kid clothes as well. The options are endless! I also find fabric and sheets at thrift stores. I use both to create clothes for my daughter and I. A sheet can become a maxi skirt real quick. I also love to look for inspirtaion, so when I am at a thrift store I can remember projects I have seen on Pinterest or from some of my favorite Refashion blogs. My go to Refashion blogs are Sewing Room Screaming, A Skirt a Day, and A New Dress a Day. When you have refashion ideas in your back pocket, it is much easier to think outside of that dreadful box we put ourselves in. Be creative and one of a kind!

Just like when you were little and you circled the toys in the Christmas Catalog, have a list of things you are looking to incorporate into your wardrobe. Weather it is a mental list or a paper and pen list, keep one. I learned this technique from Kendi. I thought it was just brilliant. It gave my thrifting more of a purpose. Now I keep an eye out for those items on my wish list. I know some of you right now are thinking, "well isn't it just easier to run to Target and get it right now?" Well sure it would be easier, but do we always have to have immediate gratification? I have had a simple button down white shirt on my wish list for a long time. I finally found one last week. I found it at the 50 cent sale I told you about. I saw that beauty and cheered to the heavens. Sweet victory was finally mine. The fit was perfect and so was the price. I would never have been able to get my shirt for that price at a Department store. I was glad I waited. You can't buy that feeling when you finally snag the item you've been searching for. Sometimes the best things take a wee bit of time. Be patient. If it saves you money, it is worth it.


For reals! Make it a hobby. I know all of you ladies out there are busy. Whether you are a busy mom, wife, worker, insert the noun, you deserve a little "me time". Have thrifting be your "me time". When I go to a thrift store by myself, it is like going to Disneyland. I get a little bit of time with me and oh man is that sacred. I love to find the best deal and see how much I can get for my monthly $40. I am even on a first name bases at some of my favorite thrift stores. Once you do that, it is amazing the doors that open. I went in the other day, looking for glass mason jars. I have a project in mind. I explained what I was looking for. The ladies at this store know I am a sewer, refashionista, and blogger. They always want to know what my current project is. It makes it a fun environment to shop in. Anywho... they wrote down what I was looking for and are going to call if someone donates what I am looking for. Super Sweet right?

So there are my six basic tips to becoming a Thrifting diva. It is in all of us. I know it! I also wanted to include my basic closet staple list. I not only have a pantry staple list, but one for my closet too. Having these items in your closet will give you a well rounded wardrobe.


 1 Pair of Black Heels

1 Pair of Fun Heels.
A fun color or pattern. For me it is my Snakeskin heels
I snagged these at a thirft store for around $6.

1 Pair of Sandals in a Neutral.
Like these ones I found on

Basic Button Down Shirt

1 Pair of Tennis Shoes

I just got a pair similar to these Floral Sneakers
 for $4. SCORE! 

1 Pair of Workout sneakers

A Few Statement Necklaces and Earrings

A Fun Maxi Skirt 

A Simple Pencil Skirt.
I have a tutorial here and here.

2 Pairs of Great Jeans

Make the most of all you got. I love to ask for clothing items, gift cards, etc for Christmas and Birthdays. It is a great way to grab some lovely items for my wardrobe. Be a smart shopper..... no matter what. Also don't turn down donations. Once people know you refashion, you will get donations. I swear. My mom is always donating sheets, bed skirts, clothes, etc to me. She just puts stuff in a trash bag and tells me to do what I wish. I love the challenge. She just recently gave me a bed skirt. Guess what I made with it? A ruffled skirt for myself. I plan to share the tutorial, once the weather gets cooler. It is a super fun ruffle pencil skirt for fall. Can't wait to see her face when I wear it. They get a kick out of seeing how I can work the fabric and make it into something fantastic. 

I know we all have a refashion diva in all of us, just begging to get out. Let's all think outside the box and inspire one another. I hope now you feel better equipped with how to save, when it comes to clothing. You can still be fabulous, fashionable, and all on a budget. There's that B word again. You can do it lovelies! I know you can.

I love fashion and refashion blogs so much, I decided to add a linky page to Blissful and Domestic. If you have a blog and you post at least 2 fashion posts or 2 refashions a month, then link up. Grab a button and join the fun. 

You can find the Refashion Blogger Page here.
I even created a new button for our Refashion Page!

Blissful and Domestic

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