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How to Look Stylish Without Breaking the Bank

Back then in uni, I had this friend and coursemate— let’s call her Praise— whom everyone recognized for her sense of style. She knew how to look stylish on a budget and anytime it was her birthday, the first thing friends would post about Praise was her dress sense. This got me curious.

I wanted to know how she pulled off her outfits and left a mark of positive impression on people. When I asked her the boutique she shopped from, I was shocked to learn she only got thrift clothing. 

Yeah! You read right. She wasn’t buying designers or shopping from boutiques as I supposed. The secret to her good dress sense were 2 things:

  • she knew how to dress with style.
  • She knew how to look stylish on a budget.

Like my friend, you don’t have to break the bank before you can be described as stylish. If you were told you have to spend so much to look good, allow me to burst your bubble.

You were told a lie.

It all boils down to how you play the game of fashion. And that includes how you combine the clothes in your wardrobe to give you that overall show-stopping look.

If that sounds like something you’d love to learn, come with me as I show you how to look good on a budget. No debts, no outrageous shopping; just you, your style, your clothes and accessories, and your bank account.

Let’s dive in.

Affordable Ways to Look Good on a Budget

stylish lady wearing affordable clothes

If you read my piece on the reasons why fashion is important, you’d see that I mentioned a sham you must have heard others say— that to do fashion, you need to have loads of money.

Permit me to reiterate that that’s a myth. 

Money isn’t an excuse not to look good. My friend, Praise, is enough proof of this claim.

She had a style that can never be ignored and all my coursemates saw it. While we thought it was because she was super rich, I got shocked to learn her clothes were usually inexpensive.

I mean, Praise buys thrift clothes and rocks them like they are designers. And that’s because she knows that even though life comes with many problems, she would never bare them for the world to see by wearing clothes that look like her problems.

You too should do the same.

Stop thinking fashion is irrelevant. Stop thinking you need loads of money to do fashion.

You only need the little you can spare and a personal style to present yourself as well-to-do.

Let’s face it. There’ll always be problems in this life. So, would you rather appear in rags because of a little issue in your life or you’d rather learn how to look good on a budget and hope for the best in life?

If the latter is your choice, use these tips to achieve it:

1. Declutter Your Wardrobe to Know What You Want

Decluttered wardrobe

We all have a messy wardrobe, especially when we don’t sit down to detox it.

Let’s start with the basics. Go through your wardrobe and separate your favorite clothing from your least favorites. Then separate your new ones from the old ones there; especially the ones you haven’t worn in a long while. Afterward, decide to either discard them or wear them often. 

There’s more about detoxing your wardrobe you should know and we have a comprehensive guide on that. It’ll show you how to detox your wardrobe so you can have a clearer view of what you have in there, and afterward, you can create a capsule wardrobe with it.

Go ahead and read it if you’ll like to do it now. But if you’d rather save it for later, let’s proceed.

2. Only Buy What Suits Your Style

smiling lady wearing ankara gown

We all have our tastes and that makes us who we are. For instance, have you ever wondered why you don’t (or do) like to wear stuff that pops you out?

If you don’t like such, it’s because your style is conservative. If you do, it’s because you like to stand out. 

Hence, before buying any fashion item, figure out your personal style and dress for it.

If you do this, everything you wear won’t only suit you. It’ll also make you feel comfortable and more confident.

3. Go for Thrift Clothing

inside of a thrift shop

It isn’t until you wear designers before you look good. If you have this mentality, you may wind up buying counterfeit especially when you don’t know how to spot fake designers.

Patronize that thrift vendor you know. You’ll most definitely find great hand-me-downs you can use to make a style statement.

While at this, ensure your picks are of good quality. Just because the price is low doesn’t mean the quality has to be way too low too. In other words, only go for classy stuff.

4. Know What to Invest in

lady wearing suit with bag

You’ve settled to shop from a thrift store. Good.

Don’t rest on your laurels yet. You need some high-quality items in your wardrobe to elevate the low-quality ones.

This can be your handbags, shoes, sunglasses, jewelry, and other accessories. It can even be a piece of clothing if you want. And no, I don’t mean you should always break the bank to buy them. I mean, you shouldn’t mind investing in some high-quality pieces to elevate your wardrobe.

These pieces will serve as an investment and give you your ROI in terms of style. Plus you can always rock them with your thrift clothing to give it a thorough elevation.

5. Ensure it Flatters Your Body Type and Skin Tone

woman dressing according to her body type

Your thrift and high-quality clothing must flatter your body type. I used must to show how important it is.

When you wear clothes that don’t fit (or suit) you, you don’t look stylish at all. You give people the impression that you suck at doing fashion and that’s uncool.

In the same vein, always wear colors that flatter your skin tone. We have a guide on how to find the best colors for your skin tone. Reading it will ensure you make the right clothing, hair, and makeup choices every day.

Moreover, you should also read up our style guide on how to dress for your body type to know more about this tip.

6. Always Dress for the Occasion

man a woman dressed for dinner event

Don just wear it because you feel like it. There are many types of outfits for different occasions. So, be sure your outfit suits the event.

You shouldn’t wear a dinner dress to work unless that’s the dress code for a hangout with your colleagues. You shouldn’t wear formal office wear as beachwear just because you feel like it. There are guides to these things and if you want to be regarded as stylish, always dress for the occasion and not your mood.

7. Get Inspired

Ebuka wearing red agbada to inspire you

Go to social media and see what others are wearing. By others, I mean the style icons and influencers you look up to.

Take a cue or two from how they pull off their outfits. Do they pull off an eccentric style or do they give off something chic?

Whatever their style is, don’t just imitate unless it tallies with yours.

That is, only take inspiration from influencers whose style resonates with you. You can as well turn on their Instagram notifications and screenshot their photos.

This way, you learn more about clothing combinations from them and create a mood board for yourself.

8. Explore and Experiment

smiling man experimenting with his outfit

Did you just buy a pair of cargo pants? Great. How about you pair it with a button-down shirt?

Sounds odd? Well, wait until you try it out. If it doesn’t look good, you can take it off and wear something else you’re comfortable in.

It’s called exploring and experimenting. Fashion will be boring if you don’t leave your comfort zone to try out new outfits.

This might be the one thing you need to do to create a stylish reputation. And that’s how to look good on a budget, you know.

9. Create More with Few

Victoria wearing more with a few

This is also part of exploring and experimenting. When you get bored of your outfits, don’t buy new ones yet. Try to create more with the few you have.

For instance, you can turn a palazzo into a dress or a dress into a skirt by wearing a sweater over it.

You can also turn a silk scarf into a crop top by folding it in half and tying it around your torso.

If you don’t want any of that, try turning your button-down shirt into outerwear by using it to layer a tee. Or maybe you should layer a slip dress over a shirt to create an edgy-chic look. 

These are some ways to create more with few. It’s a creative and fun way of dressing up.

10. Wear More Colors 

Ebuka wearing multi color outfit

As you add neutrals to your wardrobe, ensure you also wear more colors.

If you’re a lover of simplicity, it doesn’t mean you should go overboard. You can still wear your black, white, or brown colors.

Adding a multicolored scarf or a bright-colored pair of shoes may be the one pop of color you need. If that sounds like a plan, go ahead and learn how to wear more colors with our style guide.

11. Take Care of Your Skin and Hair

beautiful lady wearing braids

We’ve talked so much about your clothes forgetting that charity begins at home.

What shall it profit a fashionista who invests in the best clothing but pays no attention to their skin?


Nobody would say you look good if your skin looks like you haven’t had a shower in three months. So, never forget to exfoliate, moisturize, tone, cleanse and wear sunscreen when stepping out.

But before you jump on any skincare product, know your body type. This is necessary to avoid using products that’ll harm your skin.

Similarly, groom your hair and nails too. Wear the best hairstyles and haircuts. Lay your edges with edge control and wear good makeup products.

If you’re not a fan of makeup or fake lashes, you don’t have to wear them. Not wearing cosmetics doesn’t make you less stylish at all. In fact, there are ways you can look beautiful without makeup. Learn about them to avoid inconveniencing yourself.

12. Accessorize

Victoria Willie wearing white and black outfit with glasses and hand bag

I’d be damned if I left without this point. It’s as important as the rest. But if you doubt, cast your mind back to when you glanced twice at a random person on the road.

What made you do so? Their beauty, body figure, or their overall look.

If it’s their overall look, it may not only be because they wore a nice dress. It could be because they accessorized.

Yes! Sometimes, it’s their accessories that make you look twice.

Those little add-ons magnify your look. A simple pair of sunglasses or a hat can turn you into an It girl. A simple wristwatch or pocket square can turn you into a classic man.

Never forget them if you really wanna know how to look good on a budget.

And that’s all about that. As you go on using these tips, always remember to put on your self-confidence for the world to see. You can do that by looking confident in all you wear.

Don’t know how to? Not a problem. Jump on our guide on how to dress confidently right away.

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Victoria B. Willie

Writing has always been a part of me. From writing stories as a young child to studying Communication Arts in the university, it has always been more than a medium of expression to me.

And then one day, I found myself toeing the path of an entrepreneur and becoming a fashion enthusiast. This made me develop an interest in content marketing and copywriting which I've been chasing alongside my fashion career.

That aside, when I'm not sharing style articles, selling with stories, or creating fashion-forward pieces for Ria Kosher, you'll find me telling wild stories that always come with a twist.

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