Prep for Less: Style on a Budget

Happy Monday! I wanted to kick off the week with a post I’ve been thinking about for a long time — “how to prep for less!” I would describe my style as preppy, tailored, and feminine. However, this post applies to shopping on a budget — for any style. I’ll outline some tricks, as well as places to peruse for more affordable pieces. Enjoy!

Buying Basics

Step one to style is buying basics. This really consists of any item that you can wear with a lot of different things. Some closet staples that come to mind include collared shirts (several in chambray, white, long-sleeve, short-sleeve, etc.), easy skirts (cognac or taupe suede skirt, black circle skirt, etc.), variety of pants (classic jeans, black professional, culottes, etc.), and the list could go on and on. A good rule of thumb is that if you can come up with five different ways to style a given piece, it can qualify as a basic. You don’t have to break the bank for quality basics either. Old Navy, Gap, Banana Republic, and Target all offer well-made, affordable items.

Mixing Basics with High-End Items

Once you have a good collection of basics, it’s time to invest in some splurge pieces. Truth be told, higher cost clothing is probably going to be made to last and more detailed than its less expensive counterpart. Be very selective about the brand pieces you buy. I try to purchase items I know aren’t just trendy right now, but will last forever. Depending on the store, some of these purchases can be a really BIG buy so I try to be thoughtful before purchasing. Though I don’t have a favorite place to shop, I love J.Crew, Vineyard Vines, Tuckernuck, Barbour, Madewell, Express, Loft, Zara, Anthropologie, Ann TaylorSezane, and then at a higher tier, Mulberry, Ralph Lauren, Kate Spade, Club Monaco, Joie, Tory Burch, Vince, and Pam and Gela — to name a handful!

Sale! Sale! Sale!

Sales can discount an item as soon as a week after the item comes out. J.Crew and J.Crew Factory do day-only surprise sales on new items all the time, so its worth checking out your favorite stores’ websites, signing up for their email subscriptions, and following them on social media (brands are always posting sales and contests on Instagram) — these are the three BEST ways to stay on top of discounts being offered.

Watch for Dupes

I personally don’t love the term “knockoff,” but sometimes it really is the way to go!! For instance, take this blouse that is priced at $82, then take a look at this one for $28. They’re pretty similar! If you find a piece that you fall in love with, it doesn’t hurt to look for similar less expensive options — you might be surprised at what you find!

Marshalls & TJMaxx

There are so many reasons to love Marshalls, TJMaxx, and like stores! These stores receive shipments of products that brands over-ordered, so you can find items from Kate Spade, Vineyard Vines, Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, Southern Proper, Cole Haan, Lilly Pulitzer, Free People, Franco Sarto, Sam EdelmanVince Camuto, and more — at a fraction of the price. These locations definitely require patience, but the amount of times I’ve scored hugely at Marshalls (their shoes alone!) make the search worth it.


SheIn has been all over social media for its alarmingly inexpensive clothing. Having tried it, I can say: Pros — there are some very cute pieces (example can be found in this post) and the quality can be fine. Cons — sizing is very strange, the quality isn’t perfect, shipping is a real hassle. I recommend trying it, but size up and pay for expedited shipping.

Secondhand Stores (thredUP, Poshmark, etc.)

Purchasing lightly used or new-with-tags items from another person can be a daunting task. I’m very particular about purchasing used clothes, but the truth is you can find some beautiful pieces at a much lower price. I’ve used Poshmark a few times — it takes a lot of constant checking and combing through various items to find the pieces worth purchasing, but I like the ability to “offer” a price to the seller. Bargaining has gotten me some really wonderful items. However, over the last few months, thredUP has become my favorite! They also sell secondhand items, but the items chosen have to pass a standards test. Everything I’ve ordered so far has been practically brand new! To give you an idea, over summer I ordered two Vineyard Vines bottoms (a skirt and beach pants) for $16 total shipped. And I recently ordered a Barbour jacket for $40. I check these brands and others regularly (including J.Crew, Pam and Gela, Club Monaco, Madewell, Ralph Lauren, Joie etc.) to see if new items come in. If it’s your first time ordering, use code “1STTIME40” for 40% off your whole purchase and free shipping!!

To breakdown my outfit in this post, I’m wearing a basic chambray shirt from Old Navy with a J.Crew skirt I purchased for under $20 from Poshmark with a pair of basic oxfords from Target — prep for less at work!

How do you “prep for less”? Comment below!



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4 Comment

  1. This post was so helpful!! Thank you for sharing great information on affordable ways to shop the latest trends.

    1. Thanks so much, Marcel!! I love shopping affordably 🙂

  2. These are good shopping tips. Definitely hitting the sales is a must.

    1. Agreed!! Sale makes all the difference!

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