Whether you’re in work or school you always want to look your best. Some people are on a budget, and I get that. I’m the girl who worked fashion internships in New York City wearing Target day dresses and there are things that I wish I could go back and tell my former self, shaking her, letting her know that there are ways to look put together and expensive without actually breaking your college-laden bank account. Since I still lack the funds (or science, take your pick) I can’t go back and change my past. But I can help you change your future. These simple tips will help you feign riches until they’re yours!
1: Invest in a Steamer
Having freshly steamed clothes makes you look out together, whether you’re wearing Forever21 or Diane Von Furstenburg. A quick steam gets out any wrinkles and creases you don’t want and handheld steamers are easy to use, and affordable! A steamer is also less harsh on finer fabrics than an iron, making it able to safely get out wrinkles in silks and chiffons as much as wools and denim.
2: Dry Clean When Possible
Dry cleaning is a luxurious expense, but for good reason. While clothes may say they are machine washable, washing them over and over can lead to blessing colors, thinning fabrics, and premature pilling. All of these create a look of overly worn clothes even if you’ve only worn them a handful of times. Washing them sparsely and dry cleaning when possible is a great way to keep your clothes in that new-like condition.
4: The Right Shoes
We all know the saying “the shoes make the outfit”; well maybe not but the right shoes can make or break you. If you’re on your feet all day and striving for polished professionalism, consider opting for pointed flats instead of rounded. They give the illusion of heels and an aire of knowing what you’re doing.
Heels tend to be a little more ambiguous. You don’t want them too high (anything higher than 3″ in the workplace can give the wrong suggestions), and you don’t want them too pointed or square toed as that can date you. Ideally, the perfect shoe is about 2″ tall with a slightly pointed toe. They are also perfectly in style at the moment with an ankle strap, so you can find them easily everywhere from Forever21 to Ann Taylor.
Like dry cleaning, this is another luxury expense for good reason. No body is made the same whereas mass produced clothing is. By taking even an H&M dress to the tailor to get altered to fit your frame you’re investing in your professional image. Proper fitting attire somehow makes people pay attention and respect you much more than an ill-fitting blazer.
Some shops offer free and/or in-house tailoring to make sure you look your best. Uniqlo
6: Boxy Structured Bag
When you think of a woman with power, what image comes to mind? What bag is clenched at the hip or slung across the shoulder? Chances are you’re envisioning the iconic Hermes; the boxy Birkin, the quintessential Kelly. Or maybe a crisp Kate Spade springs to mind. The things that all of these have in common? Structure. Nothing says youthful boho more than a malleable bag quite like a structured bad exudes power and confidence. I myself coveted at Kate Spade for a few years, waiting for that moment of “big girl”ness to take the plunge and buy one. While a $400-$40,000 bag may not be in your budget yet there are surely other options. My favorite place for chic work bags on the cheap? H&M and Charming Charlie’s.
7: Quality Faux
Luxury can be epitomized by soft fur jackets, dainty pearls, and diamonds. While most fauxs of these can end up looking tacky and, well, faux, there are ones that can make you look like a million bucks. When going for faux fur jackets check the fabric content. The more polyester, the more shiny and scratchy it will feel. By getting a jacket with less polyester and taking care of it (brush your furs ladies!) you can keep that thing looking lush for longer. As for pearls and diamonds, I try to go for quality as well. J.Crew has some great baubles and I love Francesca’s collection for earrings. They are about $12 a piece and I have some that look like they could rival Kate Spade and maybe even Cartier. Again, the lastability weighs on how well you care for your pieces and how well they are made. Clean your jewels with jewelry cleaner when you can (but not water as that can lead to rust and color change).
8: Stay on Top of Your Beauty Regimen
Budget savvy ladies know they can’t go for weekly manicures and bi-weekly hair treatments. But how do you maintain looking like you do? You master the art of DIY beauty. I personally take Sunday afternoons and paint my nails, use a no-chip top coat, give myself a homemade sugar scrub in the shower and then get some rest. A good nights seep does wonders for the body (and mind!) Another great thing to master is the at-home blowout. Personally, I perfer to save my hair from damaging heat by using curlers at night, but if you can work with a hair dryer, use it! It will keep your hair looking sleek and shiny between trims. BONUS: Next time you splurge at the hair salon really think about the cut your getting. If you want to be trendy, think of something that would last. I recently went for an angled bob and it has grown out perfectly on trend into a LOB (long bob).
9: Shop the Sales
Shopping the sale rack can get tedious; always trying to find the right size and sifting through the items that have already been overlooked. Flash Sale sites like RueLaLa and Gilt offer the season’s latest trends, styles, and brands for up to 70% off of original retail-but only for a short time. Make sure you sign up for their emails and keep your eyes out!
10: Borrow It!
If you find yourself wanting to look like more for less there are options. Rent The Runway offers customers the chance to rent special occasion dresses at a fraction of the cost. When thinking about the work week, Le Tote, a fairly new start up, offers monthly subscriptions of work appropraite clothes that you’ve picked for yourself. You wear them once or twice, and then ship them back (cleaning is included)! It’s a great way to make sure you’re not wearing the same thing twice while still maintaining your budget.
Similarly, just like in Sex And The City, Bag Borrow Steal is a real thing, where you can “rent” designer handbags for a week or a month. While a Louis Vuitton might still be more than your rent or mortgage, they have more casual designers available.
What do you do to make yourself appear more powerful and influential?