In an uncertain economy, it's necessary to rethink how you spend money ... and that carries over to fashion. There's no reason to completely forgo shopping and style. "Frugal is the new black," said Kathryn Finney, who started the website thebudgetfashionista.com five years ago. Here, three penny-wise experts discuss how to keep up your wardrobe for less.
The Budget Fashionista
Originally from Minneapolis, Kathryn Finney runs a national fashion website and wrote the popular guidebook "How to Be a Budget Fashionista: The Ultimate Guide to Looking Fabulous for Less," now in its sixth printing.
BE VERY PICKY
This is a time to really avoid shopping. If you're going to buy, get the best that you can, not the cheapest. Look at adding only one or two pieces a year.
SCOUT OUT, SPIFF UP
Go through everything that you own and look for items you can sell or alter cheaply. Take your boots to the cobbler instead of buying new ones.
FOCUS ON BASICS
Buy things in dark, neutral fabrics. You can wear a pair of black pants three days a week. A black or brown suit is a great investment. Gray is harder.
Plaid is a huge trend for fall. Get a patterned scarf, flower or cute flats. It can change an outfit and not be too pricey.
LIMIT DRY CLEANING
You're only supposed to dry-clean suits twice a year. Otherwise, use Febreze fabric refresher (or a generic version) for in between.
The Cheap Chick
Erin Schneider recently spent a year buying nothing that cost more than $20. She is currently challenging herself not to buy anything unless she can think of three good reasons to do so. The Shoreview resident documents her frugality on her website.
TRADE WITH FRIENDS
Send out mass e-mails to friends if you're looking for something specific, such as shoes for a date or a shirt to wear with a suit. You can do clothing swaps, too bring all of the stuff you don't want, everyone tries on everything and whoever looks the best keeps it.
SHOP CONSIGNMENT, THRIFT
You'll find name brands, gently worn, at 1/100th of what you would pay for it new. Some people say, "Oh, it's used." If you don't tell anyone, they won't know. My favorites are Nu Look in Minneapolis, the Turn Style stores in Roseville and Eden Prairie and the Savers locations in Bloomington and Minneapolis.
LEARN FINAL-MARKDOWN CODES
At Target, once the last digit hits "4," that's as low as it's going to go, as in $2.24 for a T-shirt. At Old Navy, it's "8."
TRY KIDS' SIZES
I'm lucky because I wear size 6 1/2 shoes. You can also look at bigger kids' sizes. I've bought Saucony running shoes at DSW for $80, but I found kids' Saucony shoes at Marshall's for $24.
USE STORE CARDS FOR DISCOUNTS
I got two pairs of (new) pants at Fashion Bug for just $27.18, in part by signing up for their credit card. However, I paid off the balance on the spot. You should always do that with store cards.
When it comes to going out in the Twin Cities, Matt Dowgwillo knows how do it for less.
Websites such as modcloth.com have great pieces for a quick vintage fix, if you don't have time to peruse through racks. The store Everyday People Clothing Exchange [2912 Hennepin Av. S., Mpls., 612-824-3112, everydaypeopleclothing.com] has previously owned clothes that are affordable. With the '80s and early '90s grunge look making a comeback, it is the ideal place for people who would like to save a buck or just want something unique.
CUT BACK ON OTHER SPENDING
Try to save money in other areas, such as at bars and clubs. If your budget for clothes and going out used to be $300 and is now $200, save 50 percent by going to happy hour! There are lots of great places that have two-for-ones or 50 percent off drinks and appetizers. Try Fuji Ya (two locations, see www.fujiyasushi.com for details), where they have $3 beers and wines, $4 to $6 sakes and awesome rolls for $3 to $6, including some of the $15 rolls from their normal menu. It's a killer deal.
REMAKE OLD CLOTHES
Take clothes to a local designer to be screen-printed. If you own a pair of Levi's that are super comfy, for example, they can feel new again with a brand-new design.Hat ($12.99) and American Eagle flats ($24.99), available at Payless stores and www.payless.com.
What are your recessionista tips? Send an e-mail to email@example.com with your best fashion-focused budget ideas.