How to Change Your Look Without Breaking the Bank

Shifting Lives; Shifting Styles

A member of the Refined Images community recently shared a goal to change her look.  Inspired toward a specific new style, she expressed a legitimate concern for financial output: “Any tips on changing your look completely without going bankrupt?”  You betcha!

Whether you’re aiming for a new style identity, you’re in size transition, or you’ve made a career change, if you’re overhauling your wardrobe, there are ways to do it without breaking the bank (and losing your sanity along with it).

5 Tips for Budget-Friendly Style Transition

1) Start small.  Rome wasn’t built in a day, and nor will your new wardrobe.  That’s a fact it will be helpful to make friends with straight away.  Are you wanting to infuse more femininity into your style choices?  More creativity?  More fun and whimsy?  The most direct way to inject your look with a new mood is with accessories.  May it be your jewelry selection, shoe choices, or scarf collection, your accessory repertoire is a tool for quick and inexpensive change.  (Consider how a bold statement necklace can express “artsy” the way a delicate chain will not.)

2) Ease in with OPS.  That’s Other People’s Stuff,… stuff that they don’t own any longer and have made available to YOU.  A resale shop or thrift store can provide some amazing finds.  When you’re eager to exhibit your new style, and haven’t yet found the perfect pieces in your price point, this can be a solution with an added benefit:  As you experiment with new preferences, you can make mistakes, corrections, and ditch ideas that didn’t work without the guilt of having spent loads of cash.

3) Visit the salon.  While not wardrobe feature, a visit to an expert stylist/colorist can provide an instant and often quite impactful change in the statement you make with your appearance.  Shifting from edgy to conservative, or youthful to sophisticated, can be accomplished in one afternoon.

4)  Color wisely. As you’re introducing new fashions into your closet, make a strategic choice in the base colors you build your new collection around.  You won’t have a one-dimensional color wardrobe unless you choose to, but picking foundational, “staple” garments (the larger, higher-priced items like trousers, jackets, skirts) in similar hues will mean that coordinating outfits becomes a snap.  Add in fresh color and variety with prints in your less-expensive items like blouses, sweaters and other tops.  Once you’ve got a good start, and you’re ready to spend a bit more, you might decide to add more foundational pieces in expanded patterns & textures for variety.  More about this strategy here.

5) Finance with Intention.  Think about alternative ways to expand your clothing budget.

  • An Amazon gift list (today’s version of a gift registry) can be used for any occasion. Your loved ones can purchase clothing according to your suggestions for birthday and other holiday gifts.
  • When you shop online, enter your store’s shopping site from a cash-back portal like Ebates.  You’ll be surprised how the savings add up.  (Transparent disclosure: I receive some pennies if you begin using the service via my posted affiliate link.)
  • Earmark bonus earnings from credit card rewards for your new style acquisitions.
  • Fund new items by selling your own no-longer-suits-me pieces on eBay or at a local resale shop.
  • Then, there’s good ole’ fashion dedicated savings accounts. Mark a separate account for your wardrobe makeover and you’ll be excited to make deposits.

Establishing a new wardrobe can be a fun and liberating experience.  What has been your experience?  Have you found additional or unique ways of funding your own transition?  Share in the comments! (I read them all.)

Want to explore more? Work with me.

Patty Buccellato is an image coach and founder of Refined Images. She brings extensive knowledge and expertise to her work with men and women individually, as well as with corporate employee groups.

Patty established Refined Images in 1994, and while her studio is based in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, you’ll find her serving clients throughout North America in their homes, offices — and, yes, even in shopping malls! To get your FREE copy of Patty’s “How to Shop Like a Stylist,” visit or contact Patty.

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