So I'm definitely not what you would call rich, but I would like to think that I have pretty good taste in clothes. I say this because when I was a student people often commented on my outfits, saying, "you always dress so well, where do you get all this money to shop?"
But the truth is I've actually never had a massive budget for shopping sprees - just a good eye to spot one affordable, statement piece per month.
And I do get why people tend to think fashion-forward people have got a lot of cash-dollar in the bank - because fashion is so visible. But the gag is... shopping for clothes doesn't really have to be a more costly than any other hobby.
I think the misconception that fashion enthusiasts are well off can also be blamed on the fact that for a long time the fashion industry has heralded luxury brands as the only marker of good taste.
The minute you open a glossy, you're confronted with Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Pringle and Calvin Klein advertorials.
It's like a subliminal "you can't sit with us" which can easily intimidate you into thinking your Woolies trench coat is a sub-par piece of fashion.
So take it from me, a professional bargain hunter, when I say you don't really need to wait for your financial glow up in order to cultivate the modish image you want for yourself.
Seriously, most of my favourite statement pieces in my wardrobe were either thrift purchases or sale finds.
Don't believe me? Take a look at this outfit below.
The top was bought at a thrift store back home years ago, the skirt was ridiculously marked down at Topshop and I got the boots at a really good price from Zara.
I'm not saying I'm the best dressed person you'll ever meet, but I have been shopping long enough (and very regularly) to be a credible source on this topic.
Here are a few more of my ride or die rules when it comes to shopping:
Full price? What's that?
If you think cheap means tacky, you're wrong. So wrong.
When I walk into a store, my eyes immediately dart towards the red banners marked with those four magical letters on them: SALE.
It's always good to start at this section and slowly work your way through the rest of the shop.
However, retail stores don't always have a sale on, so I've learnt to be patient because "if you love something, let it go and if it was meant to be, it will come back to you."
No really, it's true - if you have your eye on something that just hit the rails and you can't afford it just yet, let it hang there and come back three or four weeks later when it's hopefully been marked down.
Pro tip: Opt for student-friendly malls rather than high-end malls because students don't go shopping that often, so items are more likely to still be available weeks after arriving. This is why I visit Cavendish Square more regularly than other malls in Cape Town.
Best thing I ever bought at a sale: Black high-waisted 3/4 bermudas (from R599 to R50!)
Previously loved clothes
Young thrift shop situation here. I've pretty much been on a strict budget since since. It's also pretty damn hard to get nice clothes for my body type that I feel are me ? You know what I mean? That's probably why I started making things for myself with my mom. I prefer my clothes a certain way and most clothes in stores are either too tight, too bright, too girly or too expensive for me (the coin is on a diet). Anyways, the discovery of second hand shops has been a dream and I basically buy mens wear from them and maybe wear them with a feminine shoe if I feel feminine that day and you know what it's a nice hey, it works. Basically, no one asked for a style tip from me but try second hand stores sometimes. Bye♥
People who don't necessarily like twinning with others or who feel that brand new clothes are not for them, go thrift shopping.
Thrift stores are a treasure trove of good quality, unique finds.
Not only that, but you can sometimes happen upon international brands at less than a fraction of the original price.
Best thing I ever bought at a thrift store: I once bought a United Colors of Benetton sweater for, wait for it... R30! And no, that's not missing a zero.
Grandma's (or mom's) closet
This is even better than thrift shopping as you're literally getting free clothes. You don't even have to leave the house to find a new classic item.
Older generations have a lot of gems to offer us, not only in wisdom, but in fashion!
Best thing I "shopped" from my mom's wardrobe: A luxurious (real) fur cape with silk lining. (Sorry PETA).
Try a factory outlet
No, I don't mean the retail store in the mall. I mean the lesser-known fashion hubs where "reject" items are sold.
And before you ask why anyone would want to spend money on clothes that weren't even good enough to make it to the store, I must mention that by "reject" I just mean there may be a button missing or the zip might be on the right rather than its intended left.
No one notices such minor faults when you're slaying anyway, so visit factory outlets and save your bucks.
Best factory outlet item I ever bought: A pair of Levi's, which I then DIY'ed to my satisfaction.
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