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How To Dress Well On A Budget


Draw a quick comparison between the Mercedes-Benz CLA and the normal Mercedes-Benz A-Class sedan models for sale in the USA and you’ll see that it’s possible to dress elegantly on a budget. What might the vehicles built by the premium German car brand have to do with dressing elegantly? Bear with us, because it goes to show that you don’t need to throw a lot of money at style. In fact, if you’re smart about it, people will be none the wiser that your show-stopping style statement cost you far less than they might have imagined.

Mercedes-Benz brought the humble, frumpy sedan back into fashion in grand style when they first launched the CLS sedan way back in 2004. It sported striking four-door coupe styling and frameless doors. It was not about cargo space, engine size, the number of seats, or horsepower figures at all. It was about style. It was gorgeous – far more beautiful than any sedan had a right to be. And now they’ve done it again with the beautiful CLA at less than $38,000 new. It is the stunningly stylish CLS – but at sensible money.

Style Does Not Equal Substance

Yes, designer labels impress us, but style does not have to cost a fortune if you know what to buy and where to find it. Besides, what do those designer labels say about you, and do they convey the image you want to portray? What if you want to make an elegant, lasting impression without being ostentatious or vulgar? Or, indeed, without breaking the bank?

In case you’ve wondered why expensive clothes aren’t always all they’re cracked up to be:

  • The financial sacrifice can stretch you beyond your means
  • The guilt of buying expensive clothing over necessities can grate
  • Some of that money goes to the label, without improving quality in any way
  • Comfort is most certainly not guaranteed
  • That hugely expensive designer outfit might be totally out of fashion next year

Budget Style Hacks

Sometimes, less is more, and there are so many ways in which to achieve a striking result with less:

  • Revive a classic. Nothing stays out of fashion forever. It might take a while, but sooner or later, that classic that is all the rave now has been in your closet for years. Yank everything out and carefully review all of it, even those outfits that you never wear. Once you rediscovered some old gems and mixed and matched them with what you got in the meantime, you’d be surprised how many stylish new outfits you can invent. Especially when you get creative with adding scarves and belts. Old clothes in new configurations and combinations can create brand-new outfits.
  • Do an exchange. Everyone has friends with the same problems. Why not get together with yours and see what you can exchange among each other to freshen up the dire closet situation? Over a glass of wine or a cup of coffee, pore over everyone’s outfits and see who’s up for what. And if there are clothes nobody wants, why not donate them to charity?
  • Thrifty is not cheap. Do not underestimate the thrift store! You might be astonished at what people throw away and donate. Sometimes, you can find really expensive designer clothes at thrift stores for a steal. The fashion-conscious hoard up so much that they have to get rid of the excess in some way – and this often ends up at the thrift store.
  • Shop online or on sale. Shopping on eBay for second-hand clothes can be a great idea. Take note of outfits you like and the right size for you and see what you can find online at a cheaper retailer or second-hand. Or watch our for sales and buy clothes at a discount out of season. You’ll be glad you did next season when it’s expensive again. Sale days like Labor Day can often produce bargains.
  • Do it yourself. If you have the machinery and the talent, make your own clothes. It’s very rewarding, you get to make what you want to wear, and you can save a lot of money this way, despite using premium fabrics. It could even turn into a little business.
  • Consider the alternatives. Some value brands are really great and sometimes nearly indistinguishable from premium brands. Cross-shop at different retailers and compare brands. You’ll soon find that perfect compromise of quality and style.
  • Do the math. Work smartly with your money. Start a shopping fund and save up for expensive items. Only buy out of that fund and don’t overspend. Enquire about club memberships, rewards programs, and other ways you can save. Cut on other indulgences. Be sensible about how much you will be able to wear an outfit. A more expensive outfit might be worth it if you can wear it multiple times and mix and match it with other items to turn it into something else. It’s not always so much about the price, but about the cost per wear.


You don’t need a $70,000 Mercedes-Benz to make a style statement if you know the cheaper style shortcuts – and it’s the same with clothes. Start off with the above advice and be inventive about how you build up a stylish closet. Mull over buying decisions and be sensible about needs taking a back seat to wants. You can look expensively dressed, like one of the models out of a fashion magazine, even if you’re not. And it’ll be twice as satisfying knowing how little it cost you.

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